We all learned new, intriguing details from the expert panel at the Harnessing the Power of Digital Media Panel. The diverse perspectives and deep, unparalleled digital media experience of the panelists allowed moderator and Founder + CEO of Koi-Fly Creative, Stacey Grant, the opportunity to dig into the most thought-provoking questions surrounding the topic.

The panel audience, who very enthusiastically participated in the event, consisted of marketers, makers, creatives, agencies, and media publishers – the perfect audience to explore the different avenues and strategies behind the most admired brands and influencers in the Philadelphia area.


Selling vs. Entertaining

Christian Crosby, In-Arena Host for the Philadelphia 76ers, started off the conversation talking about selling vs. entertaining in your digital media strategy. He says it’s important to recognize where people are and to be there all the time. They may not be in your store every day but they’re on their phone every day, probably all day long. Social media allows brands to do that. He admitted that what his brand, Live Life Nice, did wrong in the beginning was sell, sell, and sell some more on social media: promoting products, highlighting services… but what his team realized is that’s not what people want to see every day. Just like television, people don’t want to be watching commercials all day.

He continued explaining that it’s a numbers game. Even if you aren’t selling anything, as long as you’re creating something that stays true to your brand, people continue wanting to know what you have to say, and you’re generating a lot of views and a lot of numbers, eventually people are going to click on your link and make a purchase. He opened up, saying that 86% of Live Life Nice’s sales are from Instagram and he rarely even posts about the product.


Embrace Your Oddness

Nick Bayer, Founder + CEO of Saxbys, spoke highly of his Gen Z audience and their high expectations of the brands they follow. He emphasized one of Saxbys’s values: Embracing being ODD (Outgoing, Detail Oriented, and Disciplined). But he continued saying that it’s not all about the adjectives behind the acronym. It’s about embracing your uniqueness and owning your oddness. Just like how it’s important to Nick for his student CEOs and employees to own their oddness, it’s essential for brands to do the same. He pushed the audience to own who they are and their messaging because “people want real.” He continued to explain that there is so much video out there so you need to be real and authentic or people will see right through you.

Be Fully Genuine

Lindsey Schuster, fashion influencer and owner of The Motherchic, agreed, saying owning your oddness makes you more approachable. Retailers such as Amazon, J Crew, and Nordstrom are doing this by utilizing influencers to put a person behind the brand. The brands give influencers like Lindsey the creative freedom to develop their own sponsored content, so all of Lindsey’s posts contain clothing that she picked out herself and would authentically wear day to day. She urges brands to not try to drive the content, but let influencers tell their own story (wearing the appropriate line, of course).

Lindsey continued, saying that she actually declines brands’ requests to collaborate more than she says yes because she will 100% only post about a brand that she already uses and loves or already heard of and is interested in trying. Once, a hotel wanted her to post about their brand but use photos from a past vacation – she enthusiastically asked, “How am I going to make that authentic?” She stated that being fully genuine to her audience is why the audience trusts her.


Everyone Is a Brand Ambassador

Scott Crossin, CMO of Boyds, has a similar outlook when it comes to all Boyds employees. Boyds is a traditional Philadelphia retailer – so much so that they created a website only a year and a half ago. Scott explains how excited he is about this new CMO position (which is a brand new position) because there is so much opportunity. At the same time, he understands that baby steps have to be made.

He explained that he has discussed with his team forgetting about their job description, whether they’re in shipping or accounts payable; first and foremost, everyone is a brand ambassador. Everyone is a Boyds Brand Champion. He continued explaining that the reactions were varied between the staff. Some were excited, some were confused, and some were skeptical. However, he concluded that people are understanding more and more that you can create the best marketing campaign in the universe. How? By using all the right tools, potential buyers will walk through the front doors, go on your website or to your Instagram profile – and if it’s not the right experience, none of it matters.

Kaitlyn David, Director of Integrated Content Strategy at Philly Magazine, interjected saying she loved partnering with Nick Bayer for the Infiniti Start Your Own Legacy campaign, which highlighted local influencers, because he already owned an Infiniti! It came across even better because he knew the product and was able to talk about it authentically.


Go Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Lindsey gave an interesting stat that daily, the average person will scroll on their phone the length of the Statue of Liberty. It’s all about making content that’s eye-catching and makes people stop because during the scroll, it’s stagnant, stagnant, stagnant, MOVEMENT! That’s why video is so important to her, because you can catch someone’s attention faster than anything else. It takes her brand and gives it another dimension. It humanizes and legitimizes her, and she believes that’s one of the most important things to take away from the panel.

Christian agreed, saying that there’s always a safe place. People are so afraid to try something different, and when they see bad results they just go back to their safe place. He continued, saying that’s not how it works in the world of digital media. You have to give yourself a chance to learn – because when you try those different things outside of your safe space, you’ll see results that are greater than you’d ever see in your safe space. But you have to be able to try different things to get to that space.

Lindsey interjected, agreeing strongly because she admitted she doesn’t know what she’s doing most days, even though she’s the CMO of her company, she jokingly said. People ask Lindsey all the time, “How did you start what you do?” She simply explained, “I just did it.” She tried different tactics and strategies, and if they didn’t work she something else. She also mentioned that there isn’t one way of doing something because something that works for her brand might not work for another.


Find Your Voice and Own Your Mistakes

Christian stated that because digital media and video is so over-saturated, it’s more important now than ever to find your voice and find a specific way to present your voice differently than everyone else. He admitted, as well, that there’s going to be A/B testing with it but once you find your voice, you’re in! Christian also mentioned that when he’s stuck and unsure of what to do next, he asks his audience and they respond – with good ideas! He emphasized not being afraid of trying new things.

Kaitlyn added a final note, saying that brands need to be less stressed about brand perception. She said that a lot of times brands worry about making a mistake and the consequences of that mistake. She urged the brands in the room to own your mistakes, because you might actually get more engagement that way. Sometimes it’s how you react to those mistakes and how you connect with people afterward. Be kind and own it.

Have any questions or comments about the panel? Leave a comment below! 


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