Guest Post: Don’t Fight Remixing, Encourage It

Whenever possible, I like to encourage guest posting on this site so that readers can receive a wide variety of view points from related fields. Today’s column comes from Dan Zarrella, a social media consultant.

Online social media, like socialized forms of media before it, has at its core the concept of communal recreation. Lessig called it The Remix Culture. What ever you label it, its a focus on derivative works.

In urban legends, gossip and oral tradition, each time the story is retold it is remixed with frameworks and concepts already possessed by the teller. Verbatim repetition is very rare.

Online the media and the tools have changed but the idea remains the same, each remixer is applying their own frameworks and concepts to a new bit of media.

Copyright laws do not understand modern derivative culture because they differ from traditional forms in the size of their potential reach and distribution.

The music industry is one easy example after another. The Grey Album for instance. And there’s probably a new example of this every day on youtube.

It is impossible to fight the current of derivative culture, but it is possible to take advantage of it.

Marketers can and should take advantage of this phenomenon by encouraging users to remix pieces of brand content (and perhaps even giving them the tools to do it and share). Danger lies here, as Chevy learned with their Make Your Own Tahoe Commercial, but there is also a lot of reward to be had like everytime Stephen Colbert asks his users to remix some video of him.

A content producer will benefit himself greatly (And probably avoid unwanted content reuse) if he or she allows some of his content to be remixed (and again, encourages or facilitates the process and sharing) under a Creative Commons license. This trade of a little bit of media for increased exposure will ultimately increase the value of that producer’s work, not diminish it.

Dan Zarrella is a social media marketing consultant and if you liked this post you can read his blog, follow him on twitter, or vote for him for Best Social Media Marketing Blog in the Search Engine Journal Search Blog Awards.

If you are interested in writing a guest column for this blog, please contact me via email.