Social Proof and Type

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Recently I did a bit of research and also some brainstorming along the lines of social media and typefaces. What can social media do to encourage people to buy fonts? I'm not talking about marketing efforts by individual foundries or distributors, I'm talking more about the industry as a whole. I had this idea, but I'm not in the position to do anything directly about it. It would take either a network of foundries or a large distributor or a network of distributors. I wanted to go ahead and just simply post the idea as I think it would be great for the industry as a whole if somebody were able to take it and run with it.

"Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof

Social proof is very important in our industry. There is a lot of piracy and sharing of fonts. Because there is so much social proof that this is acceptable, it is accepted. My idea is something along the lines of shareable badges on Facebook.

We need to provide social proof that others are purchasing fonts and not ripping them off, and also that there are some very good reasons to do so.

These badges or the campaign should also highlight the amount of time and effort it takes to design a typeface and the fact that it helps to support an industry dedicated to develop new typefaces.

So what are the consequences if something is not done on the along these lines? More and more we are moving towards the possibility of the App Store type devaluation. There's a lot of reasons for this, but one is because there is not any social proof that people are actually purchasing fonts and that they value them, our ability to request prices that we feel are acceptable for our work or are acceptable to remain in business will no longer remain. The marketplace is eating itself, just as any marketplace does over the long term.

Anyway, if you like it, great, and if you want to run with it, you can.

If I'm not being clear, or there's some major holes in the idea, feel free to post your thoughts and we can maybe work it out.

Comments

  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
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    It sounds like all those campaigns that try to tell you that smoking is bad for your health, you should not text while driving and of course all those existing “using pirated copies is stealing” campaigns.

    In my experience is is much more helpful to simply provide useful, honest and correct information — about licensing, about the time it takes to create fonts and so on. That’s much more convincing than any campaign.

    It’s also a question of who you want to target. In a professional context, there are much less pirated copies in use. And if they are, it's often based on the fact, that the users simply don't know, that they cannot use the desktop font on more than 5 machines, on their website or give them to sub-contractors. Then, information is again the key.
    And larger companies would probably not use those Facebook badges.

    The private users and individual designers who get content through P2P networks and warez sites don’t bother about campaigns. They know very well what they are doing is not legal. The only thing that can convince them, is a big fine for every pirated copy they used.

  • Deleted Account
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    "...is because there is not any social proof that people are actually purchasing fonts..."

    If you start with this as true, it's hard. If you build off the falseness of this statement, it is easier,I think.
  • Jeremy Dooley
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    @Ralf Agree about individuals on P2P networks. The campaign would be targeted towards freelancers or even folks in agencies that care about their craft and the work that goes into the type they create. Shareable badges are less "in your face" than a RIAA advertisement and if people see their peers are purchasing fonts, that's far more effective than a organization on high.

    @David What are some examples of social proof that highlight that people are actually purchasing fonts and value the product?
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
    edited October 2013
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    Shareable badges are less "in your face" than a RIAA advertisement
    That we would have to see. Maybe you can create some mock-ups we can then discuss here?
    After all, it would be about our financial interests (→ profits), and people might see those badges exactly like RIAA campaigns. It might even backfire and cast a poor light on type foundries.
  • Deleted Account
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    Well, first I should say that your 100% negative, is slap in the comma fanny to any one whose efforts you are negating with the deaf strokes on your keyboard. Second, I should say that a wiki "definition" can be aaaaannnnnnything you say it is, so, who knows exactly what you are talking about, but; A few years ago, we sued a big one. A few years before that, we set up fonts in use. And every year, for the last 30 I remember, some number of articles are written.

    Now you might not know what I'm talking about, but I assure you, people with Facebook badges saying "I buy fonts", sounds pretty tame, compared to a public legal beating, public at-a-boys for legit use, and 1,000s of published articles about successful cooperation in design between clients and type designers.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,169
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    Font marketing has become more sophisticated (and about time too).
    And given the expansion of producers James notes, good marketing is necessary for success, now more than ever.
    Certainly, good advertising creates desire for both purchasing and piracy.
    One way to create social proof is by offering rewards for purchasing, in one’s marketing.
    These may not be as direct as tangible premiums.
    In the era of social media, a relationship such as friending or following may be considered social proof—assuming that ripping off one’s virtual friends or leaders is less likely than patronizing anonymous third party providers for one’s fonts.
  • James Puckett
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    One way to create social proof is by offering rewards for purchasing, in one’s marketing.
    That’s a good point I overlooked. House Industries sends out t-shirts and printed specimens. Jessica Hische once told me she sends prints to people who buy fonts from her web store. And Veer gave credit for merchandise to people who bought stock photo and fonts. This is probably a much better way of promoting social proof than pushing badges. It also helps one build a hard-goods sales channel, which seems to be working very well for House.
  • Max Phillips
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    In the era of social media, a relationship such as friending or following may be considered social proof […]
    Can you really have a viable business selling licenses to your FB friends and Twitter followers? (Well, if you're H&FJ and have a quarter million of them, maybe. But for mere mortals?)
    It also helps one build a hard-goods sales channel, which seems to be working very well for House.
    I admire and covet House's tchotchkes. But does anyone here know if they're actually profitable? From here they look like tiny runs and huge unit costs.
  • Deleted Account
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    "...prices are dropping [...] the number of people designing type is growing faster than the demand for type."

    How is the former counted? How is the latter figured? And what is the per user saturation point? :)
  • James Puckett
    James Puckett Posts: 1,979
    edited October 2013
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    I admire and covet House's tchotchkes. But does anyone here know if they're actually profitable? From here they look like tiny runs and huge unit costs.
    Only the partners at House know for sure. But I think if they were taking a loss on the perennials like blocks and t-shirts they would have stopped producing them years ago. And other businesses see a profit in House—this year House has done a clothing line with Uniq Lo and a line of dishes with Hasami.
    How is the former counted? How is the latter figured? And what is the per user saturation point? :)
    If I had access to the hard data for all that I’d have window office in Woburn. But I’ve heard enough complaints from people who’ve been selling fonts for a long time to know that there is a lot of downward pressure on prices for type and related services.
  • Stuart Sandler
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    Looking at this discussion as a futurist, it's easy to understand the advantage hosted web fonts have with regard to piracy via URL whitelisting, consistent improvements to the face released in realtime and precise data to demonstrate specific use of each font.

    By the time a desktop equivalent gains favor, we'll be well beyond the desktop age . . .
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,401
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    "If a lot of people are stealing your fonts, that probably means a lot of them are paying for them, too."

    I think so too. The people doing the pirating aren't necessarily the ones even using the fonts. And the people using the fonts aren't necessarily the ones purchasing. Fonts get passed around. They end up in installed in system folders, included with project files etc. The actual person downloading the torrent could be far removed from the person who does the buying. The more ingrained in the project the pirated font is, the more difficult it is to swap it out for open source, freeware or a cheaper substitute.

    I guess you have some designers downloading font torrents, installing them and immediately using them for commercial projects. If the design is for an agency, they might request the font to commission additional works from another designer. Somewhere down the line, someone might question why there's no license agreement attached and maybe you've got a sale.

    I think movement of data facilitates sales and awareness. There are people who never buy fonts. If they play by the rules, they can get by with the fonts that come with Creative Suite, the OS, OpenSource and Dafont. But I don't benefit from that. At least if they're sharing fonts, they might be increasing my chances of making a sale somewhere down the line.
  • Ralf
    Ralf Posts: 170
    edited October 2013
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    Looking at this discussion as a futurist, it's easy to understand the advantage hosted web fonts have with regard to piracy via URL whitelisting …
    Which helps to track the legal uses, but also makes piracy way more easy then ever. You can just get ANY font you want from the foundry’s or reseller’s webfont preview in your browser. And this is happening right now. No need to wait several years for once legal copies to appear online or to extract subsetted fonts from PDFs. They can just download the webfonts and convert them within minutes.

    Same is true for the desktop font services. It's no secret that the Typekit desktop fonts are just in a hidden folder. If you make it visible you get the whole library and can extract it and share it.
  • Dave Crossland
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    > Monotype’s lame comic books

    URL?
  • IRL
  • [Deleted User]
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    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Jan Schmoeger
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    ?
  • [Deleted User]
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    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Dave Crossland
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    PITA