Case Study: Building an Online Brand, GameJew-style

Defining success is important, but it shouldn’t always be about high traffic, viral growth, and mainstream pick-up. The case study below reveals how building a small, but passionate, online community of supporters can have a far greater impact than going for instant mass appeal.

Jonathan Mann is the GameJew. (Watch the first episode of GameJew, released May 2006.) In the past two years, Mann has built an online community around two of his greatest loves–music and gaming.

How did he do it? Well, as far as I can tell, there are two key reasons:

1. Working really, really hard, producing lots of original songwriting, videos.

2. Being 100% authentic. (There is only one GameJew. Think about that.)


I contacted Mann to learn about his stats, and how he measures success. He writes:

My community is pretty tiny, in all honesty. I had about 400 or so subscribers at GameJew, and so far about 65 have signed up to the more “web 2.0-y” mannmade.tv ..

But down at the far reaches of Chris Anderson’s long tail is the fanbase. The early adopters. The core supporters. Folks who should be considered social media GOLD. Mann continues:

…what’s interesting for me is that despite not really having the numberss (most of my videos do well under 5,000 views! that sucks!), it would seem that the “right” people have been watching my stuff.

In fact, Mann’s audience landed him some amazing new opportunities. Two examples:

  • A GameJew fan named Robert, arranged for Jonathan to participate in an artist residency in his hometown of Vienna (“The Vienna trip happened because a guy, Robert, who’s now a friend, became a huge fan and basically hooked me up with this artist residency.”)
  • The folks at 1up.com hired Jonathan to produce singing video game reviews, after becoming big fans of Jonathan’s homebrewed video series.

What’s the future for GameJew?

My plan as of now is to get an online store up and running, where I can sell my music, then try to leverage some of the progress and connections I’ve made through gamejew into 1. more paying gigs and 2. something involving my non-video game music. Beyond that, it’s hard to say.

I’ve written here before about brand evangelism, about how we build a community of passionate supporters online. Businesses and organizations should looks to artists like GameJew for inspiration.

Judging by the comment threads on his videos (“You are amazing!”), I’m pretty sure Jonathan will find success.

You can find Jonathan at MannMade.tv, GameJew.com, and www.jonathanmann.tumblr.com

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