Ever wished for a platform where you could talk about all things Luke Skywalker? What about the Netflix original show “The Witcher,” or pretty much any video game on the market? Well, you’re in luck: check out fandom.com right after you read this blog.
In Episode 107 of Earned, Conor sits down with Stephanie Fried, Chief Marketing Officer of the world’s largest fan wiki platform, Fandom.
To start, we dive into Stephanie’s personal favorite fandoms and hear about the content that’s shaped who she is. We learn about Fandom’s mission and vision, and discover what makes Fandom the world’s best resource for fans. Next, Stephanie shares what went into Fandom’s branding process, and explains Fandom’s goal of being the fan’s first choice for community and experience. Switching gears, we unpack how Fandom uses a multitude of social media platforms to maximize the value consumers are receiving. Stephanie emphasizes the importance her team places on creating new features and functionality that can “bring life” to new fans. Additionally, we explore how Fandom celebrates the idea of fan identity via in-person events that create meaningful connections for individual fandoms. Stephanie also reveals how Fandom works with entertainment companies on both data and content to meet users where they’re at. To close the show, Stephanie leaves us with some insightful advice on how to engage and retain audiences in cost-effective ways.
The following interview has been lightly edited for concision.
“We really thought about where we wanted to go: our vision, our mission, our brand promise and story”: How Fandom Branded Itself as the Fan’s First Choice
Conor Begley: Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to go through hearing people say, “we need to build up this new brand that not everybody knows about?” Were there any specific learnings or challenges from the time prior to you getting there, as well as during the early stages of your time as CMO?
Stephanie Fried: Yeah, of course. So the Fandom brand name predated me. When I started, the name Fandom was already there, but what it meant or what it represented, not just externally, but internally, as something to kind of frame our growth strategies and initiatives against and our culture, didn't exist. So I undertook the work with the team to determine what fandom meant, what fandom represented for all of our stakeholders, external partners, our creator community, our admins and editors, our fans, the studios that we work with on official wikis, as well as those who partner with us to help get their message out. Figuring out what Fandom meant to all of those different groups and holistically together.
We undertook what I called not a rebrand, but a branding, because it really didn't exist before. We really thought about where we wanted to go: our vision, our mission, our brand promise and story. We were moving towards being the fan’s first choice for community and experience. So we built that out, shared it, but also determined what our visual identity was. Bringing that to life and really refreshing the way that we identified ourselves in the world with a new visual identity across all of our platforms and internally. We've worked on our value prompts and how to bring that across to our different audiences. As well as what we're building, why we're building it, where we're going as a business, what acquisitions we make and how they fit within that story, within that promise.
“Brands who have social teams and strategies do the best when they think about the audience, and the use case of each one of those platforms”: Fandom’s Stephanie Fried on How To Best Utilize Social Platforms
Conor Begley: What do you think about your relationship with social platforms? You create content and people spend time on your channels as an alternative to social media, but obviously a lot of the content that probably shows up at fandom sites, or that gets taken from a fandom site and gets shared on social media, is very much collaborative. There's cross-platform sharing and collaboration. How do you think about your relationship with social networks? How do you guys work with them, and work with creators that are maybe on those social networks as well?
Stephanie Fried: I've worked in roles for a long time where we've thought about social as an important marketing channel. It depends on where you sit in an organization, but to me, social is actually a lot of different things. Instagram and why you're on Instagram and what you're using Instagram for and what resonates on Instagram is very different from TikTok and why people are going to TikTok and why they open that app and what they get from it. They're all also competing with each other and trying to create all the exact same features, which I find very interesting and strange. And I think it's a symptom of the need to grow, as opposed to being really good at what you're good at and being differentiated.
There's a lot of difference between connecting with your community versus connecting with what's trending and the larger community, which is how TikTok started versus Instagram. Instagram was more intentional around what you're interested in, who you're connected with, and your community. TikTok was much more about discovery of people outside of your community, along the lines of things that are trending, but people use both platforms for different reasons and purposes. They're all trying to create this super-space where you can do anything on any one of them. Brands that have social teams and strategies do the best when they think about the audience and the use case of each one of those platforms and what's going to resonate, because it's wildly different for each.
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