Online communication with customers and other interested parties becomes ever more important for all kinds of companies and organisations. Our German sister blog Jürgen welcomes and encourages critical feedback from his readers when posting industry-specific entries, news items, and exclusive offers available for the entire graphic design community, using the blog as an interactive and meaningful platform. Testimony of this are the sometimes staggering amount of comments to specific posts, and the fact that FontBlog entered the German Top 20 on Technorati in August last year. This commitment is inclusive; it benefits the active as well as the passive visitors of the blog.
A recent example of the significant impact social media can have is the remarkable viral campaign of US president Barack Obama. Millions of voters were able to track his journey all the way to the White House over Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and many more online networks. The feeling of dialogue with the candidate and his team was not merely suggested, there was a genuine interaction taking place. People felt they were taken seriously as interest groups. The internet users were even able to help shape the electoral campaign through concrete feedback, and they strengthened and disseminated Obama's message. All involved profited from the creative community.
Personally I am a big fan of this modern form of interpersonal dialogue, the "many-to-many" principle. I give musicians feedback on social networks, participate actively on politicians' blogs, evaluate products in web services. The transmitter becomes the receiver, and vice-versa. This situation has become completely normal in a very short period of time, so much that it has become hard to conceive there were times one couldn't communicate his opinion to the rest of the world in such a simple and efficient manner…
Just like many other type foundries and distributors FSI – FontShop International acknowledges the potential of the viral web, and started to make good use of web services which prove meaningful and interesting for both its customers and its FontFont library. In the last weeks of 2008 several online platforms were taken into consideration, and FSI examined which ones could prove valuable in streamlining and augmenting the communication between interested parties and its foundry. I have integrated the results of this research in the list below.
FontFont goes viral
Facebook– the mother of all social networks – "gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected". Better-looking and classier than MySpace, it enables companies, organisations, musicians etc. to create personal web pages of which other users can become "fans". The FontFont fan page sports among other things a photo and a video page, a forum, a news ticker and a bulletin board. A number of well-known type designers who designed FontFonts (e.g. Jean François Porchez, Erik Spiekermann and Joachim Müller-Lancé) are also FFans. A great opportunity for those who'd like to ask them a question in the discussion forum…
FF Meta video by the way.
Twitter"has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens – from breaking world news to updates from friends." When used privately the micro blog service can often be rather exerting. However as a short, concise information channel for organisations and businesses the network proves its strength. 140 characters per message can only accommodate what really matters.
Issuu"turns documents into beautiful online publications. Publish to an audience of millions and get your message across to anyone, anywhere. It only takes a minute and it's free." Different types of PDF documents such as magazines, catalogues and presentations can be viewed with an innovative viewing module. Familiar features like the evaluation and embedding of documents on third-party websites are very useful. For example one can preview the FontFont catalogue online before ordering the printed version (or even make do without it for the sake of the environment), or browse through a type specimen.
BehanceThis still relatively young portfolio website is "a free platform for the world's leading creative professionals". It allows users to showcase their work and gain exposure by building a dynamic, multimedia portfolio of one's latest projects, open to all or shared selectively. The remarkable thing about this network is most of all the high quality of the work shown. It is exciting for us to discover what others have designed using FontFonts.
Vimeo"is a thriving community of people who love to make and share video. From simple moments to masterpieces, Vimeo is the perfect home for you to upload, store and share all the video you create." To many Vimeo is the better YouTube, at least the more beautiful. One can find a multitude of typographic films from other users as well. Seeing the work shown in the various networks is a motivation for one's own work.