Say what you will, critics, but fan fiction and recaps are a real business. And a lucrative one at that. Just ask Tobi Bauckhage, co-founder and CEO of Moviepilot. The publishing platform gives fans a space to write about movies, directors, TV shows. They host most of the content on Facebook channels; they have 28 million Facebook fans across multiple channels and 60 million monthly visits. The TV channel, which you can see here, posts about everything “Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” and “Doctor Who” recently — shows you can really geek out on.
Bauckhage is a bit of a nerd himself and gets a kick out of empowering fans. He says:
We’re really trying to balance out what kind of content comes from our fans and what we write ourselves…We want to enable even the guy that can’t write that well, so there are a lot of articles that might never make it on the Facebook page. We also started to put some of the contributors that were regular and performing well on social and we have a few of them on payroll.
Recently his team reached out to a contributor, “a real expert,” according to Bauckhage, that had been posting regularly every day and had gone silent. It turned out that the teen had exams that week and his parents took away his Playstation — which he had been using to file his articles. “That’s really cool,” Bauckhage says. To incentivize contributors, Moviepilot has started to give them the perks that real journalists would get, like press passes to red carpet events. It makes for good content: the superfans know how to interview JLaw about “Hunger Games” and what sort of story the superfans really want to read and share. Bauckhage says their goal is to “enable young fans who are passionate and knowledgeable, so they have a different kind of access to the kind of content that they want.”
For Bauckhage, the long game is working with studios — they already have relationships with Sony and Fox — to help them gauge what fans want and how content will do. “We can tell them who their first 5,000 fans are for a movie, what their affiliations are,” that and basic demographics can help marketing teams early on as they plan a social push.
Not only is it worth knowing who your fans are, the platform works because it’s authentic: fans talking to fans without any pretense. Where else can one be really, really, sad about “The Walking Dead” winter finale or gush over “Doctor Who” donuts?