In the introduction of Spreadable Media, authors Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green discuss why media spreads and compare and contrast the concepts of media “spreadability” and “stickiness”. In case you didn’t know, the term spreadability refers to the way in which media is circulated today through much more participatory ways. Stickiness refers to the methods that companies use to try to get users to remain at their site or to view a particular piece of media.
Many organizations prefer the stickiness method because it allows them to measure more easily how many people are visiting their site, which is how prices that advertisers pay are determined. Spreadability can be a hindrance to companies’ websites in that it dilutes the number of people visiting that particular website because people can get their media fix from a third party.
Spreadable Media uses fandom as a reason that media has become so “spreadable”. In particular, it talks about the hit TV show, Mad Men. This show and twitter debuted the same year (2007). During the show’s second season, some of the main characters popped up on Twitter and started posting and interacting in a very accurate-to-the-show manner. Most who followed the characters on Twitter believed it was a great marketing campaign created by AMC to get viewers of the show more involved and to gain new fans. This was not true, in fact; the characters on Twitter were just fans of Mad Men who wanted to extend the show but still stayed within the story lines. When AMC realized how popular these tweets were becoming, they contacted Twitter to get the users’ real names but Twitter thought AMC wanted to stop the users so their accounts were suspended. The following tweet isn’t by the original Dan Draper Twitter user but it is a good example of how they would tweet and try to stay true to the character:
A quote from Spreadable Media reads: “Cease-and-desist orders have become an all-too-familiar means of correspondence between brands and their audiences in an era when prohibitionist corporate attitudes have collided with the collaborative nature of online social networks”. I can see why some corporations still cling to the stickiness method of media; it is better for them statistically and financially. But they really need to embrace the idea of spreadability, because that is how the internet works now and why social media has become so important in today’s culture.