Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barry used social media before it was called social media

Barry--a social media pioneer. I bet that's one title that would make heads turn (especially his). But you have to admit, this fan world grew and prospered because of their effective use of social media. If you think about it, it's more than just a little amazing.

First there was the telephone Hotline
Years ago, you called a number to find out the latest Manilow news and hear personal messages from Barry. That was before email, but it served the purpose of keeping the fans in touch with Barry's upcoming events, conventions and concerts.

...then the Barrynet
The Barrynet was my first venture into the Manilow fan world. Someone I met at my very first show at the Hilton told me about it. Until then, I had no idea it even existed. I jumped onto the message board and began interacting with other fans. From that communication I made friends all over the world and even met them in Las Vegas for some shows. Since then those friendships have grown beyond just the Manilow world. All because of a simple message board on the Barrynet. It was on the board that many of us got together and started a fan club "I Am Your Child BMFC"and a fan club website. I met so many great friends through this fan club.

...then the Hotline messages
When email became popular, fans were connected using email hotline messages. If you signed up for the emails or joined the fan club, these arrived in your inbox frequently to keep you posted on the goings on of Barry and his fan club.

...then there were blogs
Once blogs became popular, I met even more friends. I will never forget discovering Scooter's blog one day and all the information she provided about the early Manilow years. Then I started my own blog along with many others and my circle of friends (and enemies) began to widen. I kept my blog for years reporting about the shows, sharing memories and expressing my opinion (even though it wasn't popular with many of the fans).

...then there was MySpace
MySpace put me in touch with even more friends and allowed us to post messages to Barry on his page, even send private messages as well. The interaction became even more social, being able to post pictures and comments on other fan pages.

...then the Manilow Network
The Manilow Network was created and fans were given the opportunity to create their own pages, add friends, and communicate back and forth by leaving messages, posts and adding photographs to their profiles. This also became a great place to read show reviews and see photographs taken by fans during the show.

...and then there was Facebook and Twitter
Barry and his team finally dove in deep when creating a Twitter account and Facebook Fan page. This enabled them to connect with so many more fans by taking full advantage of social media. The notes from Barry on his page went a long way in connecting him back with his fan base as he used to be in the beginning. It was a safe way for him to communicate his thoughts and announce explanations for cancellations. As the page grows, more fans are connected and adding new friendships.

I'm grateful to Barry and his team's attempt to connect his fans with him and with one another. I have made lifelong friendships, met people I might never have met, and found strength from them during the most difficult times in my life.

Hat's off to a great social media pioneer,
Texas Fan

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