Habbo claims 11.5 million unique users on a worldwide basis and more than 121 million characters have been created. VentureBeat reports "about 90 percent of its users are 13 to 18. They spend an average of 45 minutes on the site per visit."American Idol and its show sponsors will post their signs and merchandise throughout the Habbo environment. They will hold events on stages and use spaces that resemble those in the show.
Those are some staggering numbers, especially when you consider a network Tv show of one hour is about the same length. In theory that means American Idol can double its brand imprint with each visit to the site.
For the record, I don't watch American Idol or have a character on Habbo, but I do find the brands and the massive communities to be fantastic examples of how to build across multiple media channels and create continuous momentum for products that haven't really changed over their lifetime.
There are some lessons to be learned here for software companies as well. If you can extend your brand through the right partners and channels, you too can effectively double your audience. Instead of spending a ton of money on your own branding, find a way to leverage a partner community that's mutually beneficial.
Of course, that's easier said then done, but if we look at companies that have built successful channel programs (Oracle, MySQL, Salesforce.com) you start to see a pattern where customers and partners become the primary branding mechanism.
The new section of Habbo will open on Jan. 30. I will be in Hawaii (real not virtual) if you want to hang out with my avatar.