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Your Fans Have Your Back

There's a fantastic happening making the rounds among nerd-ish websites today. A writer for Gawker went on a date with world champion Magic: The Gathering player Jon Finkel, and she called him a loser.

Fans of Magic: The Gathering, a delightfully addictive collectible card game, rained down hellfire and righteous fury upon the unsuspecting writer.

But this wasn't a PR disaster at all.

We can learn a couple things from this ordeal:

1) Fan/Nerd-Baiting builds buzz and strengthens fan's devotion.

As this article in Forbes points out, it's a possibility that she knew this would happen.
Gizmodo’s readership is hugely male, and hugely tech savvy and therefore mostly “nerdy” in the traditional sense. To post something trashing a “geeky” activity like Magic the Gathering would be the equivalent of their video game blog Kotaku writing a post trashing professional eSports. Oh wait, they did that too.
... as of the time I’m writing this, that article has 529,280 views.
She probably benefited quite nice from the number of hits generated by the article, but the real story is about fans of Magic and Jon.

This is the same as rapper feuds. Being a fan of music, Magic, or nachos is a part of our identity. When someone talks smack about your band, it's an affront to your taste. You gotta back up your people. (In group bias)

And as fan's come to the defense of their favorite artist, both devoted and casual fans begin to see the vast numbers of people who are dedicated to the artist. Current fans connect and bond, prospective fans look into the artist to see what all the hullabaloo is about. Remember how everyone came to Michael Jackson's defense when he went to trial for some seriously nasty allegations?

Nearly one BILLION people watched his funeral service.

Social Proof. Learn about its power.

A beef could be good by drawing out your committed fans.

2) How you respond to a crisis determines the outcome.

When word of this broke, Jon Finkel took it like champ and created an IAMA on Reddit to control the message. (IAMA stands for I Am A _____, Ask Me Anything! It's popular format on Reddit where the famous and not-so-famous can talk directly with fans.)

In the thread he responded, coming across like a normal, chill dude. No lashing out at fans, just an average guy with some cool stories to tell.

In a heated argument, the person who remains calm and collected is in control.

Considering he had an article written about how crappy a date he was, I'd say Jon came out on top:

The topic of "controlling the message" is a big 'un. Expect more on this later.

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