We’re Obsessed with Obsessee!
In honor of the upcoming fourth of July weekend, we’re celebrating early and going BIG with this episode. Every month I set a top 10 list for upcoming guests and Clique Media Group has been on that list for almost a year! This week I sat down with Alex Taylor and Maddie Sensibile of CMG to see how they turned an innovative distribution idea into a thriving content property for GenZ girls. I’ve been a long time fan of WhoWhatWear, Byrdie and My Domain and when they launched Obsessee, naturally, I was curious to learn more about their approach to content and social to share with all of you.
What is Obsessee
Obsessee is where independent girls discover, share and connect, but most notably, it’s a social media only content publication without a website. Say what? Yes, the brand only lives on social media with all its content distributed exclusively through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope and the like.
Meet Alex & Maddie
First off, both women are forces to reckon with. Alex Taylor oversees top level strategy and runs the company alongside Clique Media Group’s CEO, Katherine Power. In addition to setting the overall strategy, she’s obsessed with storytelling, social media and runs the editorial team. Prior to this role she led partnerships at Google where she launched shoppable hangouts and most recently, has been recognized by Forbes’ 30 under 30.
Madeline Sensibile, Maddie for short, is the muse for the Obsessee brand. She went from an intern to a social media editor for WhoWhatWear and now to a founding editor for Obsessee. She used to run a Tumblr and Instagram called Obsessee, and CMG later purchased the trademark after realizing Maddie had been the muse for the brand since the very beginning. More about this in the podcast.
Refashioners, when Alex shares insider tips, we must listen. I was glued to my seat. I’ve combined both Alex and Maddie’s insights into The Obsessee’s 7 Step Guide to Distribution, but you’ll want to listen to the entire episode for other fun goodies about life, ‘snipe snaps’ and Leonardo DiCaprio.
1. Turn Content Distribution on its Head [when it’s broken]
It was last fall when Alex and team began to rethink their current content distribution model. It was clear that the majority of their traffic for their properties WhoWhatWear, Byrdie and MyDomain came from social. The tradition distribution process had you creating a great value proposition on social to get someone to click a link to a website, to then consume x amount of pages to get the page views / impressions you needed for your advertisers. Armed with this knowledge, they could conclude that the current distribution process was broken and it was time to reimagine their strategy. From that discovery, Alex cleverly came up with the idea to use their social media properties as their content management system and distribution point instead of having readers click through. They now had a brilliant idea, but who would they target?
2. Get to Know Your Reader
Audience development is one of the most important facets in business, especially in the publishing space. Alex’s team teamed up with their Consumer Insights lead to learn as much as they could about their target audience. In this case, it was the Gen Z reader. Gen Z as a group goes from age 2 to 24, however, they decided to zero in on the 14 to 22 years olds. They wanted to know everything from what’s important to her, to how she consumes media and how her perceptions are different from those of a millennial, the cohort before them. But now, how did they get her on board?
We ran focus groups, survey and studies to really educate ourselves on what Her values are and we discovered her values were in the spirit of ingenuity, individualism, really lifting each other.
3. Embrace Your Followers as Members of Your Team
Obsessee is a platform that’s inclusive of everybody. “Every follower is worth it to us,” says Maddie. Their followers aren’t just followers though, they’ve embraced them as part of Obsessee and the main driver for content discovery. You see, Obsessee is taking that two way conversation a step further and actually making anyone who’s following them a member of the team. They involve their followers in the content creation process. On Instagram for example, they encourage fans to use the hashtag, #obsessee (and the red exclamation mark emoji) as a way to flag the Obsessee team of cool content. And, more often then not, the Obsessee editors will feature and maybe even run a story around those ideas. How would you know if this approach is good for you?
4. Regularly Test & Experiment
As your readers interests and behaviors transform, your content and distribution channels must evolve too. Alex shares that it all starts with being clued into who’s your target audience and immersing yourself in their world. You also want to take as much data that you can glean, whether it’s through social analytics, or even taking the pulse on your own community or network, you really want to understand what your shooting for before you dive feet first. Set up goals, test and iterate. They didn’t shoot in the dark with Obsessee, they really did their due diligence and immersed themselves in the Gen Z girl’s world.
It’s about being nimble, hyper creative and just ready to jump off the cliff to try anything.
5. Know Your Power Platforms on Social
If you’re going to use your social properties as your content management system, you’ll first want to educate yourself on how to best use each platform. Then, as we said above, you’ll want to set up your goals for each, and lastly test and iterate. Keep in mind that social media and your audience are both ever changing, so these goals will evolve day by day. Alex suggests this. Understand which platforms helps yield the most impact and know where your followers most engaged. Then, you can create a hierarchy, because as Alex so honestly described, there just are so many hours in the day.
We know that we have to get a Snapchat and Instagram out every day. Snapchat and Instagram are our power platforms, followed by Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr. Then, Twitter, Periscope and the like.
6. Have a Unique Point of View
It’s all about finding a new perspective. Like most publishers, the Obsessee team pitches ideas in advance, but since the platform is so socially driven, they need to know what’s trending on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Once a trend is identified, they thoughtfully seek out the Obsessee point of view in terms of each conversation. Why? You always want to provide something unique and special. Alex suggests tapping into an expert or an insider, or even trying to identifying a buzzy piece that no one has called out. This can be tricky sometimes, so you’ll want to see how the editorial team at Clique Media Group stays creative.
We’re never going to cover something just to cover something. We have to find our unique angle. What’s the unique utility to our readers?
7. Expose Yourself to Newness
Alex encourages her team to embrace different experiences to propel their creativity. Engage with your team, engage with members of different teams. There are ideas everywhere.
Yes, all is great in a brainstorm, but people come back from vacation or a walk around the block and they have a ton of ideas.
Obsessee is an example of a brand that evolves and grows with its audience and with the pace of innovation. The platform isn’t tethered down to any social channel, but is rather a fluid interpretation of what the readers wants. How are you going to look at content distribution now?
Party, Brunch, Sleepover – How’d They Pick?
♥ Clique Media Group is currently hiring two Obsessee editors
♥ Maddie is joining us on my Snapchat to answer any and all of your questions this Wednesday, June 28th for a live 10-minute Q&A! Time TBD