In this month’s edition of The C-Suite, we caught up with Sheila Marmon, Founder and CEO of Mirror Digital, a interactive media and advertising company focusing on the multi-cultural market. With a monthly consumer base of 25 million, they’ve succeeded in connecting Fortune 500 brands like Sony, Macy’s, and BMW to various digital publishers and platforms, creating a diverse and integrated content network. Here, Sheila shares her opinion on current content strategies, a brand’s responsibility for social justice and global development, and her predictions for the next big shift in media and branding.
Sidney Evans: Many professionals have begun to distribute content through a variety of different mediums in an attempt to expand their personal brand. Do you agree?
Sheila Marmon: I think it is fantastic that professionals are exploiting different types of media to build their personal brands. Using a portfolio of tools builds momentum behind a message in different ways. Broadcast gives you the reach and scale to touch many people quickly while narrow-cast media, like social or local, provides a platform to develop more targeted and personal messages.
Individuals nascent to brand building can easily get started with social media because it is readily accessible and there are some compelling benefits to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Social media allows an individual to connect directly with his or her target audience, to facilitate one-on-one interaction, and to create feedback loops helping you better understand what your readers are seeking from you by providing metrics on engagement. Social media has become popular due to these factors along with the low barriers to entry to participate and the access to active networks already on these platforms.
SE: What are your thoughts on this strategy? Also, what is an effective utilization framework for implementing this strategy and some potential pitfalls.
SM: The real power of social media is that you can be as innovative, raw and unfiltered as you like. In other words, social media tools can be particularly liberating for a brand builder because there are no gatekeepers who decide what types of messages should be shared and there are no editors who judge which content is most relevant or “the best” and therefore published. But, with this power, comes great responsibility.
To quote development guru Steve Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.” Professionals have to remember to define their ultimate brand message and what they want to accomplish upfront. Once these central questions are answered, we can dig deeper: Is the content being published consistent with the brand message? Are all media platforms relevant for your audience? If you choose to utilize several platforms, how do you determine which content resides where.
The answers to these questions will be different for each brand so this is where the work comes in — you have to be strategic and create a harmonious and unified message across platforms that builds on the core brand attributes you are seeking to build.
SE: How is brand strategy reshaping the conversation around social justice and global economic development? What has shifted and what lessons can we learn?
SM: The big shift here is that messaging around social justice and global economic development can begin with anyone. This goes back to my previous point about the power of social media and how it provides a platform to build a mass message and brand without gate keepers. Topics that may not have gotten mass exposure in the past (e.g. “Black Lives Matter,” “Bring Back Our Girls”) have built widespread attention and momentum on social media platforms. Mass media has learned what drives consumer interest around these topics and honed these messages and then transported them to broader media platforms including television and national press.
SE: In your opinion, what is the next big shift on the horizon as it pertains to media and branding?
SM: The fluidity of content across media platforms will grow in importance. Consumers will no longer be aware if a brand was launched in “traditional media” or whether it is digital native brand given that now content ports so readily back and forth across both. I think Vice Media and HBO Go are some good examples of brands creating the next wave of these true cross-platform models.
SE: How will branding at your organization change as a result of the lessons learned and what are some of the general takeaways for us all?
SM: At Mirror Digital, our tagline is “Reflect What’s Next.” For us, this means that talent, and therefore opportunity, is everywhere across the media landscape. Emerging platforms are bubbling up everyday whether it is in the form of a new app, game, video clip, or traditional website. And since the gatekeepers are being dethroned, we watch the consumer. We see that they are voting with their feet and so we have to keep running at top speed to stay ahead.
SE: What is the goal of your branding strategy for 2016?
SM: The goal of our branding strategy is to showcase the diversity of our content partners throughout the digital media ecosystem while drawing lines that illustrate the commonalities that connect us all as people.