With the advent of journalistic quality concepts like Obsessee’s social-media exclusive destination, we can’t help but wonder if a URL is still needed IRL.
In other words, what’s in an online domain these days? In truth: a lot.
When Obsessee launched in March 2016, it was the communal “say what?” heard ‘round the world. What exactly was this online property with no real online “real estate”?
When most people used to think about social content they thought snackable, ephemeral, fleeting, superficial, and something an intern can crank out. But we’re now entering the age of “high-end” / quality storytelling on social media.
Obsessee is a digital property that exists solely on social media channels. Nine channels, to be exact: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Periscope, Google+, YouTube, and Tumblr, as well as Spotify via a branded playlist. Obsessee does have a homepage, which links to all of its social media platforms, but it’s more of a “cover page” and is really Obsessee’s only dot-com presence.
Here is Obsessee’s Instagram bio, to give you even more perspective: “We’re a social media-only publication here to bring you inspiring stories on the reg. Share cool stuff with us: #obsessee❗️ 👻 obsessee #happyscrollingobsessee.com/instagram“
It targets women between the ages of 14 and 22 (also known as the elusive Generation Z, or Generation Edge / “Edgers”).
(Side note: we love how “on the reg” is the new “on the daily.” Actually.)
Obsessee’s Tumblr and Twitter refer to it as a place, “Where independent girls discover, share and connect.”
Obsessee is one of Clique Media Group’s properties (its sister properties are WhoWhatWear, MyDomaine and Byrdie). Founded by Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, CMG is a beacon of content, media and commerce, and certainly disrupted the space — and raised eyebrows (not of the Snapchat filter variety) — when Obsessee launched. Not everyone “got” the gist of it.
Well, Fashionista.com said it best: if you don’t get Obsessee, then you’re likely not part of its target audience.
But the question is: are we ready for social media-only content? And should we ever be “obsessed” with this, really?
After all, it’s easy to get caught up in shiny, new platforms and concepts.
We have a yes and no answer, as there are factors from Obsessee’s strategy that can work for your brand.
Serious editorial cred
According to Ad Age, Obsessee boasts four “Gen Z” editors, who post multimedia content such as photos and videos on topics ranging from fashion and culture, to music, beauty and food. There are also short celebrity Q&As, beauty DIYs and fashion hacks.
It also boasts contributing editors with impressive resumes like Kristie Dash (she worked at Lucky under Eva Chen’s helm and is currently the Digital Beauty Editor at Allure), who takes over its Snapchat channel every Sunday.
Play in new spaces
Launching something like Obsessee certainly makes waves and gets people talking, but is the content “sticky” and highly shareable?
In truth, this kind of fun and targeted social content is a great way for a brand to partner with a publication on it social channels and get people talking — after all, engagement rates on Snapchat are extremely high, for example. According to MobileMarketer.com, its users spend about 25 to 30 minutes on the platform each day. And we’re talking about 100 million daily users and 8 billion video views per day!
So if your brand is looking for a fun and engaging opportunity, then sponsoring a Snapchat story or partnering with a brand on its Discover channel can be an interesting route.
There is something to be said for having fun and trying something new on the social channels du jour!
Obsessee sheds light on the power of native content. In the Fashionista.com feature about Obsessee, co-founder Katherine Power was quoted as saying:
“We just got really excited about the opportunity to publish native content for these platforms, content that’s created specifically for each platform and then also to get excited about the ideas around monetization… We wanted to create a brand that would live on social media in order to test this concept and at the same time we really wanted to usher in the next set of consumers.”
Clique Media Group is said to be “editorially led but data driven” — a key point in its decision to launch Obsessee. After all, their findings confirmed that Gen Z girls avoid websites and interact with content primarily through social media platforms.
And while millennials like receiving information from brands, their Generation Z counterparts prefer getting information from individuals. According to Power, “What’s more important to them is that they have a true one-to-one connection with whoever is speaking to them.”
The other players
Obsessee is not the only brand doing away with a homepage.
NowThis, which launched in 2012 as “ a purveyor of millennial-targeted, short-form video content,” ditched its website and decided to go “social only,” by creating content specifically for its social channels (including shortening its news videos to be conducive to Vine and Instagram). Like Obsessee, its website is simply a launching pad for all its social media platforms and newsletter. NowThis goes a step further by including this message on its homepage:
“Homepage. Even the word sounds old.”
Hearst launched Sweet, a fashion-focused digital entity produced especially for Snapchat’s Discover platform and reminiscent of Refinery29’s style.
And on the other side of the spectrum, two former magazine editors — Casey Lewis, a former senior online editor at Teen Vogue, and Liza Darwin, who held senior editor jobs at Nylon and incidentally, Sweet, launched a newsletter this past February 2016 aimed at teenage girls, called Clover.
The e-newsletter is delivered five days a week and does have a supporting social presence on Twitter and Instagram. And why no website? According to co-founder Lewis, they are looking to “sidestep the traffic race and clickbait headlines” (of websites).
The importance of SEO
The truth is, as a brand, you should care about traffic.
When it comes to your brand, strategic social content is key — and long-form rich content that’s searchable online is very important.
In the case of short-form vs. long-form content, long-form wins for organic SEO. Your site is more likely to be highly searchable when it features evergreen content. If you also want to have fun with social media, then we recommend tinkering around with channels like Instagram and Snapchat if you aren’t already playing in those spaces.
But if you’re looking to enjoy the fruits of SEO juice and be searchable to your target audience, then you need a legitimate website that features and aggregates your rich content.
Even though things are moving towards social, it’s still crucial (more crucial than ever, in fact) to have an established, authoritative website domain with strong Google search value.
Having said that, joining in the fun of the social space can be a strategic way to garner more buzz and create an emotional connection with your target audience. So a strong mix of both rich web content plus social media content will create the perfect storm.
As for doing away with a homepage altogether? We’re not convinced that door should be shut. Perhaps this makes us believers in rich content that sticks.
Karin Eldor is 818 Agency’s Chief Content Writer. A former senior editor/writer for AskMen.com and contributing content strategist for global footwear brand ALDO, Karin marries storytelling with analytical marketing to inspire results and long-term growth for inspiring brands.