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To explain why and how tape.tv is using social media, I need to start off with branding. Brands are designed to contain rational as well as emotional benefits. For example, a chocolate bar’s rational benefit might be its price or its size or the amount of nuts it contains. Its emotional benefit, on the other hand, might be that if you eat the bar, you know you belong to a certain social group or a country.

When it comes to services, it gets a bit more complex. Services are non-physical products. As a result, benefits are harder to grasp. Therefore, service providers have started creating brand environments. Let’s take Google as an example. There is the colourful logo, the white page with the search function, but that’s it. We don’t associate any buildings, gadgets, or anything physical with this brand. This is no big deal for Google, since they are too important for the user to ignore. Yet, smaller online companies struggle to communicate the benefits of their digital brands.

We at tape.tv deal with this issue by engaging with our users on different levels. On one hand we use gadgets like cassette tapes or ghettoblasters – objects that represent the roots of our industry, the music business, and which are full of emotional value. We also host a night at Flamingo, a club in Berlin. People working for tape.tv DJ at those nights. It is amazing to see guests of those nights realising that we are a real company, with real people working for us.

Be that as it may, what’s more important for tape.tv is to initiate and maintain a dialogue with our users. Within this dialogue we differentiate two main topics.

The first one is about the content we publish on our platform itself. The question here is: what kind of formats does the user want to see, what content is of interest to him? These questions are crucial, because in the end we want to provide a personalised product to our community. So far, we have learned that the user wants to get his favourite music as quick and as easy as possible.

The second topic we try to explore in the dialogue with our community is about how they want to consumer the content – do they only want to watch a video clip, do they want to comment on it, do they want to share it with their friends, do they want to interact with the programme, do they want to discuss topics that pop up around the content itself, do they want to influence the plot of the programme?

With social media, we finally have the means to ask those questions and understand our users – and that is what it is all about, not about how many likes we got on our Facebook profile, not how many times a message on Twitter gets retweeted. By thinking this way we put our product into the hands of the user. As a result every single user becomes a designer. The mistake a lot of companies do at this point is to let the user do too much of work or to ask the wrong questions. For example, we don’t need to ask the community what tape.tv should look like, or which colours we should use. They do have to decide on more important issues like what the product should be like.

However, our users are not only consumers and designers, but also publishers. We know that within our community there are people compiling playlists that are of interest to, let’s say, 2000 people. Social media is a great platform to find out who those producers are and who is interested in their output. To have the latter information is also of great importance to us, since we don’t want to leave the promotion of this content up to the user, as for example MySpace did. Once we manage to make the links between producers and consumers we are able to create value for our community on different levels.

This brings me back to my original thought: What is the benefit of a digital brand? Due to user involvement, we are able to provide the perfect music to our listeners within only five clicks – a rational benefit. Furthermore, we are able to present user generated content even to small audiences of, say, 2000 users. The emotional benefit on the other hand is: Music is a great thing that connects a lot of people that otherwise are very different.

That is why we don’t want to be ‘against’ anything. We rather support something that is important to us. Thus our slogan: “We fight for music”. We fight for music in this world were nothing seems to work and everything is uncertain…

Conrad Fritzsch is the founder and CEO of tape.tv, an online music television channel based in Berlin and Germany’s leading music video platform. Follow tape.tv on twitter here.



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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.