Thursday, July 31, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Fandango

Earlier this week I was looking for showtimes for The Dark Knight (which was excellent, BTW) at my local theater. I was quickly redirected to, and did some snooping and was surprised to discover that the movie ticket-selling company has a blog, appropriately titled Freshly Popped - The Movie Blog. Let's see what it looks like.

From a content standpoint, Fandango is positioning the blog as a source for movie info. Everything from how existing movies are doing at the box office, or trailers for new and upcoming releases. A few days ago the blog had a very nice series of daily updates from San Diego's Comic Con, which is the comic book industry's largest fan event, and a hot spot for movie studios looking to drum up interest for upcoming movies.

I like this approach but if I can find one 'problem' area, it's that the site has too LITTLE promotion. I see no posts about how to use Fandango, features that the site, or blog has. I see that the blog allows you to create a profile and become a 'fan' of the bloggers, and they can 'fan' readers as well. Very interesting and when the biggest 'complaint' you can find about a blog's content is not enough self-promotion, that's a good sign.

Now let's move to the comments. Despite the solid content, very few posts receive comments, and those that do usually only get 1 or 2. But a rare exception was this one covering The Dark Knight's opening. It received 27 comments, but it appears that none of them came from the blog's writers. That is a BAD sign. Also, you have to create a Fandango account to post comments, which is another hoop to make your readers jump through in order to leave feedback.

Now let's move to the blog's posting schedule. The blog does a pretty solid job with its posts, having published 20 for the month of July. That's an average of 5 a week, and is pretty good. I did notice an occasional gap of 3-4 days with no posts, but nothing major. One quirk I did notice is that every post is authored as being by Chuck Walton, one of the blog's three writers. But many of them will have From Stacie Hougland: or From Lizerne Guiting: at the first of the post. My guess is that only Chuck is a registered author for the blog, and they haven't changed it to add the other two writers. It's not a major thing, but would be nice if it was corrected. The bigger issue is that the blog does have new posts up on a regular basis.

So if the blog has solid content and regular posts, why the lack of comments? I think some of it is definitely due to the writers not responding to existing comments. But I also think that the blog being buried on Fandango's main site is hurting traffic. I literally found the blog by accident when I clicked on 'Movies' on the navigation menu across the top of the blog. This opened up a sub-menu of 9 options, the 6th of which was 'The Movie Blog'. If there was an extra tab added to the nav menu for the blog, it would increase its visibility dramatically.

In addition, I would guess that the blog's writers aren't spending much, if any, time on other social sites and blogs. If the blog's writers would spend a bit more time on their reader's blogs, and Twitter, I think it would raise the blog's visibility dramatically. I would even be ok with one less post a week, if it meant the writers could spend more time interacting with their readers on other social sites.

Finally, let's move to the sidebars. First thing I notice is, ta-da!, a nice pic for each blogger. Perfect! I'd like to see a better bio for each writer, but that's minor, the main thing is having the picture for each writer at the very top of the blog, good stuff!

Unfortunately, the sidebars are pretty weak otherwise. There's a sparse blogroll with 2 sites from E! Online, and four from Fancast. Given the dozens upon dozens of great blogs that could be here, it seems a shame to only have 6, and those coming from 2 umbrellas (hint: Add Movie Marketing Madness). There is an archives section, but no categories, no recent comments, no subscriber buttons. There is a small 'Help' section on the right sidebar, but even that seems cumbersome.

Overall, I think The Movie Blog is a decent blog that has the potential to be a lot more. If Fandango were to spruce up its sidebars and make a commitment to interacting with commenters, the blog could become a stellar example of a company blog.

And now let's move to the scoring:

Content: 33 (Out of a possible 35) - Very solid. In fact this is one of the rare cases where I think the blog doesn't have ENOUGH self-promotion, instead of too much. An occasional how-to post about using Fandango, and the blog, would be recommended.

Comments: 12 (Out of a possible 35) - Few posts have comments, and the ones that do apparently aren't getting responses from the bloggers. If the bloggers started responding to commenters, this score would easily double.

Posting Schedule: 13 (Out of a possible 15) - Another high point for the blog. There were a few gaps of 3-4 days, and if these were closed, it would get the score up to 14 or 15.

Sidebars: 7 (Out of a possible 15) - Love the pictures of the bloggers, but the sidebars are pretty weak otherwise, and lack many of the basic features you'd expect to see.

Total Score: 65 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Fandango wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your company would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.

Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blog that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.

No comments: