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S/mileage Gets Serious

Posted on: February 26, 2010

S/mileage’s official web site is open, and WOW, is it impressive!

Click here to check it out and follow along on the grand tour!

The first thing you’ll notice is the remarkably clean design. You see all the information you could want without having to scroll – the navigation bars are small but readable, there are links to all of the appropriate external sites (Twitter, Youtube, H!P) at the top, and there’s a great big picture of the girls as well as a video clip from Suki Chan. The nav bar options are as follows: News, Profile, Biography, Media, and Concert/Event Schedule.

Okay, now let’s scroll down. On the left you have aggregated updates from the girls’ and staff’s Twitters. (Saki and Dawa are currently saying it’s late and we should go to bed.) The Information section on the right features the latest news items – the book brings you to the News page.

Further to the right is an RSS feed. You can subscribe to this from your browser and it will give you the latest news in more detail than the Information section. The caption under it helpfully tells you that the site is open. I never would have guessed!

At the bottom you will see links to the girls’ blogs, company websites, and the standard Site Map/About/Privacy Policy.

I was super impressed with the Tokyo Girls’ Style website, but this brings the game to a whole new level. This is clean, easy to navigate, and incredibly visually attractive. The amount of information available at first glance won’t overwhelm newcomers but the site has everything the group’s most ardent followers could possibly want. In my opinion, this is social media being used to its full potential — the only thing missing is a Mixi but it would be awkward for them to start a new one now because the wota are already on top of things!

Oh, and just as I finished writing this, the girls’ latest PV came out on what appears to be their very own YouTube channel. Check it out:

Looking at this website, looking at the blogs and the Twitters and the new radio show and S/mileage’s overwhelming presence on the YouTube channel and their opening for Buono! and all of the things going on, I’ve got two very conflicting feelings.

If I take everything at face value, I’m very impressed and pleased with UFA. This is an incredibly difficult climate for a new group to debut in, with an overabundance of groups as it is. However, so far S/mileage has been building a very distinctive look that sets them apart from the other new kids on the block (and other girl groups in general, really). The management grasps the importance of social media for the new generation and is implementing it to its fullest in addition to giving the girls ample outlets in traditional media – two already have regular TV spots lined up, and now there’s radio as well, and they’re in magazines all the time.

Unfortunately, as I look at this, I’m also beginning to feel downright PISSED. Where is this kind of attention and promotion for your CURRENT groups, UFA? How about Musume? Or Berryz? Or C-ute? Even Buono! doesn’t get this kind of love from you. Why aren’t those girls getting regular TV spots? Why don’t more of them have regular blogs or Twitters? Why don’t any of them have videos for the YouTube channel? Yes, S/mileage has a radio show and that’s great, but then again it’s NOT because you TOOK IT AWAY FROM A MEMBER OF MORNING MUSUME. WTF.

Out of the 20 members of Morning Musume, Berryz, and C-ute, Michishige Sayumi is the only one with semi-regular TV appearances and a permanent official blog accessible to the public. Come ON, UFA, the OGs do more than this, and you wonder why nobody knows who your groups are right now. The girls aren’t going to magically grow fans. You need to send them out on jobs so they can do stuff other than sell travel packages to Hawaii or random locations in Japan if you want people other than the standard fan base to notice them.

UFA is proving they can do it right with S/mileage, but in some ways they’re doing wrong by the groups that have been their bread and butter for years. Hopefully the improvements they’re piloting with S/mileage will be employed across the board in the near future. Otherwise I’m not sure H!P’s established groups will be able to survive in the modern idol era.

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