Dive into the future of social media, community building & Brand Advocacy, as we unpack the power moves shaping the new year.

In 2024, the magic of Advocacy lies in new ways of nurturing brand loyalty.

Learn about long-form video’s rising star, and the narrative shift every brand should make; steering from product-centric to story-centric marketing. Storytelling is not a fad, nor a trend. It’s the linchpin every successful brand strategy will rest on for years to come.

From combatting dark social with the power of community to harnessing the power of AI, the panelists guide you through the often uncharted territories that fuel growth.

You’ll learn why 10% of your content should be experimental, the unspoken impact of going viral outside of your niche, and how the next step for influencer marketing is bringing creators in-house. If your brand is not thinking like a creator itself, you’re a step behind.

Tune in as Verity and our special guests demystify the trends, tactics, and topics that will define social media & Brand Advocacy marketing in 2024.

(Exclusive plans for Diary Of A CEO and Mint Velvet for you to learn from, included.)

Rate & review Building Brand Advocacy:

Connect with Grace, Sian & Verity:

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How To Win on Social in 2024: ft Grace Andrews (Diary of a CEO), Sian Pilkington (Mint Velvet) and Verity Hurd (Duel)

VERITY: Amazing. Hello, everyone. Thank you so much. I think this is, is this the first time we've done something in office, Paul, like this? With a group of people? 

PAUL: With a group of people, yeah. 

VERITY: Yeah, amazing. So I wanted to bring people together today because obviously there's a lot of noise at the moment around social media trends, what's happening going into 2024. So I just thought I, yeah, we just wanted to kind of bring all you guys together and go through and create an environment where you could ask your questions and just have like... this is really informal, like please feel free to put your hands up and ask anything throughout. But for anyone that's not met me, I'm Verity, I head up brand and content at Duel. I'm also the co-host and producer of our in-house podcast, Building Brand Advocacy, which feels like I can't really talk about when I'm sat next to Grace. 

But I'll let you guys introduce yourselves. 

SIAN: You first? 

GRACE: Yeah. Hi, everyone. I'm Grace. I am marketing director for Stephen Bartlett and the Diary Of A CEO brand. I also do some bits on the side like this and work with all sorts of brands across their social media strats, how they can reach their community, how they can really engage their audience and convert these wonderful audiences into engaged communities, I guess. I live and breathe social media, so if you've got any questions at all, like I'm more than happy to delve... I literally could talk all day about this. So, good place to be. 

SIAN: I'm Sian, I am a Senior Marketing Manager at Mint Velvet. I've been there for six years. Used to head up the social department for the past five years. And then taking a more holistic role to really grow the brand and take it in a really brand-driven, eccentric way, rather than solely focused on acquisition. So yeah, it's really exciting to be here.

VERITY: Thank you so much. I know it's been a really busy year. I don't know if you guys feel the same, but 2023 felt like it's moved a lot faster than it has done in sort of like the last three years. New platforms, updates, features. So I just wanted to say congratulations, you've got through it. It's a grind in the social media influencer space. So yeah, congratulations. But we'll just we'll go dive in because there's tons of stuff that we probably can cover. 

But Grace, What are the top trends coming out of 2023 that really excite you going into 2024? 

GRACE: I mean, I might be biased because we do a long form podcast and film it, but I'm loving the lean into longer form content, even on short form fast platforms. So we've seen TikTok go from one minute to three minutes to 10 minutes to 15 minutes as of two months ago as the maximum length duration of an upload. "Wait, how does that make sense? You're a short form, everyone's told me I've gotta get the attention in the first 1.5 seconds, otherwise no one's watching. So who's watching these long form pieces?" 

And as it turns out, people are loving the long form because it's leaning into all of the other trends we're seeing, the really highly engaging content that tells a story, something where you feel really connected to the creator or the brand because you're being let into their world to some degree. And it's not that kind of get your clickbait two second content, it feels like you gain something, you learn something, there's a piece of value here. 

And I mean, I read a stat this morning that actually said that the average adult TikTok user is watching 55 minutes of TikTok content a day, which for the first year has surpassed YouTube. So it's 50 minutes on YouTube, 55 minutes for the average user each day.

And yes, you might say they're watching, they could be watching 55 minutes of 10 second content, but the likelihood is we've seen this lean. TikTok have produced their kind of reports and people are watching videos of a minute or longer, more than ever before. So I think that's really, really interesting because we've all been told always like, focus on that hook, like get them in, no one's watching after 10 seconds, like get them in. And it's actually like, oh, now we've got this lovely place alongside YouTube, which is actually quite daunting for a lot of brand stars and because it's like, how do I create long form as a brand? Like short form feels much more accessible.

But now there's this place where you can start to kind of, OK, let's experiment with like not casting that down to an inch of its life. Let's see if like people resonate with the longer story. We personally found like people do. It's no surprise that when a platform introduces a new feature, they tend to pump it like we all know that because they want people to spend more time on the platform. So I'm really interested by that. 

And I think, as we've seen time and time again, Instagram will probably follow suit. Um, so that's definitely something to be thinking about. We've, we've been obsessed with short form for like the last three years. It's all everyone's spoken about. It's the top number one trend for new Google social media trends. Um, so I'm like, this is really interesting. We're starting to see this sort of move back into that storytelling platform. 

VERITY: I suppose like, I was going to ask about this, but while we're on it, I suppose what would be the top tips? Cause we are so accustomed to creating short form video and obviously, most of the guys here are fashion and beauty brands. What would be the top tips in moving away from short form to long form? And how will that impact, I suppose, the bottom line, really? 

GRACE: Of course, I think...

There's kind of a couple of things here. Platforms love when you can get your, the viewers to spend more time on the platform. So if you can get someone to watch your video for, you know, increase your average view duration by 5%, 10%, they're going to reward you by showing your content to more people. So it works in that way where if you lean into the long form, you're actually going to end up, if it's engaging the viewer for long enough, getting an average view duration increase. 

But the other side of it is it allows your brands an opportunity to really tell the story. And I know working with Duel and a lot of you will work with ambassadors and creators and influencers on these platforms. And there's definitely still a need for to engage and pull people in that first three seconds, but it allows them kind of not to slice it up and cut it up so that you have to get to, you know, get to the end really quickly. It's going to allow the consumers to connect with your ambassadors and therefore your brand so much more deeply because they're going to be able to tell the story.

And storytelling is still, it's not a trend, it's one of the most powerful marketing tools in your toolkit. So if we've got more time to do that, to use the Diary Of A CEO as an example, we were so surprised that our episodes that were closer to two hours when we tested it had a much higher average view duration ratio than the ones that were closer to an hour.

And everyone's like, oh my gosh, your podcast are two hours, no one's listening for two hours. And we're like, we've got the data, like they are. And that's kind of, it's shown us that people want to feel connection, they want to feel connected, they want to lean in and really get to know you and learn your story and be part of the brand. We've seen that trend, like we know people aren't just buying stuff, they're buying into your brand. And this is just an opportunity to really get deep and tell those stories in a long form way. 

So when you're thinking about your shoots or your influencer briefing or whatever it is that's going to create that content. How can you do an experiment where you try and get 10 minutes worth of content out of these people or out of you or out of your production team and just like give it a go and see what resonates? That's all you can ever do in social media anyway.

Like I could sit here and tell you like all the rules for social media. The only real rule is to experiment because it changes at the speed of light as we've seen. But yeah, I think it's going to be the most powerful storytelling platform next year. TikTok.

VERITY: Amazing. And Sian, just thinking about your year from a brand perspective, what has kind of been, what has sort of really worked for you guys in Mint Velvet? 

SIAN: I'd definitely say feeding the funnel. You're probably really familiar with this anyway, Grace, but it's been massive for Mint Velvet to really move away from being pure acquisition driven and thinking about how we can reach as many new people as possible, tell that story, incite them, engage them, entice them so that we really drag them down the funnel. And I wouldn't say it's really until H2 that we really started testing with budgets in that way. And I'm sure you'll all agree trying to bring finance on that journey where you're like, it feels right, we've got to do it. I need the money. I can't show you the results for six months, but please invest. It's very much like that. 

And we finally got the backing now from like kind of key stakeholders. And it's going to be massive for next year for us. We're actually doubling our percentage of spend that we did this year into marketing next year to kind of just focus on top of funnel. 

VERITY: Nice. Okay, so obviously I want to talk about community. I think there's been a big shift this year in sort of the private communities. And I think on Instagram alone, I mean, Adam Mosseri, he said in a recent podcasted need that the biggest growth that they've had in Instagram has been in the DMs and the usage is all in the private sharing. I suppose that's obviously been amplified with some of the new features and the updates. 

From a brand perspective, like how... in terms of the dark social and things happening in DMs and through WhatsApps and things like that, do you see that as a big challenge or how will you cater to that? 

SIAN: Not necessarily as a challenge. I think Mint Velvet's really good at growing a community and we've got a really loyal, strong fan base, whether that's our customers or our ambassadors or influencers that we work with. And I think the only way you can really combat dark social is through community.

You wanna make sure that you're showing up in those conversations where... it might be Maddie down the road has posted an outfit of the day on her close friends and you want to know where she's got the outfit from or you're at an event like this and you're like, oh my God, I love her silver trousers. Those are the conversations you want to be authentic in and you want to be showing up. 

GRACE: And that's why I think you're going to combat dark social rather than kind of creating all these broadcasting lists, which I'm sure you've all seen and thought, should I be doing that? Yeah. It's kind of, yeah, staying true to yourself and just honing in on the community you already have. 

VERITY: Yeah. And Grace, you said community is a big trend for 2024. Community on steroids.

It's not necessarily about building a community, but strategizing around your community. Any kind of tips around sort of engaging, energizing the communities that these guys have all been building over the last few years? 

GRACE: Yeah, I think we finally got away from this idea of brands thinking they have a community, but actually thinking they've got an audience. Well, actually having an audience. And there's a huge difference between audience and community in my eyes is an audience is there, they exist, they might check in, they might check out. Your community are talking about you to your friend down the pub and they're your ambassadors. So like we all know the difference and I think we finally are all on that same page. 

It's been a few years of getting there and I think now it's about okay we've got this community, we've nurtured them, we've given them a place to belong, how can we turn them into our Advocates or reward them or add value and get them to kind of stay as nourished and as nurtured. 

I think the piece around like dark socials and getting in the DMs is really interesting. We've just invested in a tool called, I'm sure people use it, or they use a similar type of tool, called ManyChat, where you are automating the DM process. Because if that's where the conversations are happening, you need to be investing time in that. You can invest in a community manager who can get through X number of DMs an hour, or you can invest in tech that personalises the responses. Obviously it's AI powered, and it's using some sort of tech to make sure that funnel of people aren't being missed. And sometimes they're just... asking a question or sometimes it's, hey, where did you get those silver trousers? 

And these tools can read that message and send them in the right direction instantly because the worst thing you can do is kind of leave people hanging. That's when they're going to disappear and go somewhere else. So there's really interesting tools emerging that can automate that world. And this platform in particular we've been working with really closely, but the ROI brands have seen working with them is phenomenal. And I think... that's where AI and community going forward is going to be really, really interesting because not only have we got this opportunity to hyper-personalise, we've got this opportunity to connect with as many people as we possibly can. 

We're talking 99% response rather than where we can, which I'm sure people in here have like community managers, social media managers, still loads of brands don't. So the volumes of DMs I go through when I'm working with a Dragon's Den brand who I work directly with. Yeah. And I'm like, these haven't been touched for years. And it's just a whole waste of opportunity. So that's where the magic happens, and you've got to be there. 

VERITY: Yeah. Are you guys using any AI tools? 

SIAN: Not at the moment, no. We're probably quite behind in that sense. It's probably a bit scary. I'd say the only AI tools we're possibly looking at is in terms of what it can be doing for video and how we can elevate our video quicker, chop it up, change it up.

GRACE: But I bet you are because I bet you're scheduling your content. AI powered. We all think AI is this thing that, and I mean so do I a lot of the time, but it's this thing that's so far away, we're not there yet, we've got to catch up. You'll be using it in ways you don't even realise that are already integrated into content and there's so much to lean into which actually has a really low barrier to entry which doesn't involve... I don't know, chatting to ChatGPT for hours or I don't know, all of these things that you see kind of online, like there's little dustings of it already and stuff we're doing. 

I mean, even like social media platforms have AI algorithms, do you know what I mean? So we're already in it. It's just a case of kind of understanding how we can optimize. 

VERITY: Yeah. Okay, going back to community, Grace, what do you think communities are gonna expect from brands in 2024? 

GRACE: It's a really good question.

I don't think... it's funny when we do these things where it's like 2023, 2024, I don't think they're going to wake up in January and be like, I now expect XYZ. But in terms of trends and where we're going, they want transparency. So more and more every kind of gen Z trend, like what to expect next year, gen Z want transparency, they want authenticity, they want all these buzzwords. And then it's like, okay, you're sitting there as a brand having a brainstorm, it's like, okay, but how? Like, how do we be more transparent about what we're doing? Do we... who's my example for gonna be, do we do a, I don't know, Duolingo and create a character and tell our story through this person or do we find another way of telling our story? 

I think, I don't think it matters as long as you are finding your platform and your voice and whoever it is to get that story across because at the end of the day, it's not a trend. It's the most cliche saying ever, people buy from people and that's because people connect with people's experiences and people's stories and people's journeys and struggles and all of that sort of wonderful stuff. 

So it really is just finding a way to get that story across in a way that is authentic to you. Like being transparent doesn't mean, I don't know, if you're a brand that doesn't make sense to show the factory because it's another country and everyone's like you've got to tell behind the scenes, behind the scenes, behind the scenes, you're like that doesn't make sense for us, we've never done that, it doesn't sit well for us.

You've got to be transparent in a way that makes sense to you. And that brand is going to do it differently, and that brand is going to do it differently. So I'd suggest not copying what others are doing as much as you possibly can. You might be inspired, you might see something cool, but you don't have to jump on every trend by any means. And I would just look at ways of going, okay, here's our community, here's our product, here's our offering, how can we enhance this relationship, and how can we speak our truth and our brand values to them as much as we possibly can?

And it's not, there's not like crazy science to it. I think it's just, if they were coming, if you had an old school shop front and you were in a village, how would you communicate what your brand's going through right now in a way that entices the customer? And it's just having those like stripped back conversations. I think we've seen a lot of, in terms of content, we've seen a lot of polished content in the last few years. We've seen, you know, everyone using the same subtitles and captions and cutaways and these polished, polished visuals.

And what we're seeing across email, influencer, social, all these different platforms is stripped back raw honesty transparency is breaking through the noise. So I think it's that sort of stuff and just finding ways to experiment with it and incorporate it into your content and go, actually, maybe we don't need a graphic designer to make this super glossy. Maybe we can get someone just to pull something together and just tell the story in their own way. And maybe that person should tell the story. Maybe that person should tell the story and see; see what works and just test and control new things. 

VERITY: Yeah. Does that resonate? 

SIAN: Yeah, definitely. I think transparency is really important. And for Mint Velvet, it's very much about being a part of something. Our customer isn't Gen Z. She's a little bit older and she just wants to feel that she's buying from a brand that recognizes her, values her and appreciates her. So a big focus for us. I'm sure we'll talk about loyalty is going to be loyalty for next year and how not only is she going to be part of this tribe as a VIP club, but how does she have impact on the brand? 

So... is that we host events and we show her five different prints and she picks that print and then when she sees it on the shop floor, she's like, oh my God, I picked that. And that starts the whole story in itself. So yeah, I think it's definitely transparency, but an element of being a part of something is what kind of connects brands to the consumers. 

VERITY: And then in terms of like the Mint Velvet community, again, like what ways are you gonna kind of be working with them next year to again, engage and energize them? 

SIAN: Probably to follow on from that. We're looking at our first loyalty program next year.

That's not just for customers, but for people who are fans of the brand. Obviously we work really closely with Duel anyway on our ambassador program, but really, yeah, making them feel like they're part of something and rewarding them for being a fan of Mint Velvet. I think that's the ultimate goal for next year. We've really done well over the past 13 years to acquire as many customers as possible, but I think 2024 is gonna be all about how do you make those customers feel a part of your brand? 

VERITY: Absolutely. Okay, creator economy. So over the next five years, it's sort of predicted that it's going to be worth like half a trillion dollars, I think. Obviously huge and creator content is outperforming sort of branded content, traditional content, both organically and paid. I mean, Grace, you shared, I'm going to say this, unpopular opinion about don't post, was it product photos on Instagram? I suppose I just wanted to kind of like delve into that, because obviously, D2C brands in the room, like... not trying to throw you under the bus here. 

GRACE: Yes, I shared an idea that was obviously cut for social, which kind of missed some of the context. As it always is, that is the nature of the beast. I'm in this game, I know how it works. And I said product photos don't belong on Instagram. And I think the TLDR is product photos don't belong on Instagram, if that's all you're posting.

If that's the only way you're trying to convert your customers, if that is your entire content strategy, right? Like if I go on your feed and it's just product photo, product photo, product photo, product photo, and you're wondering why you're not converting, or you have a problem with it, I'm going to pinpoint that. Not to say that if you are Mint Velvet and you come out with these silver trousers, you're not going to get them out, you're not going to show them. 

Do you share an e-com photo that you post on your website? Or do you share... might be one of your ambassadors wearing them in a video walking down the street? That it's more about mindset than... it's more about mindset than the actual what I'm saying. Does that make sense? So it's more about, okay, you could post the product photo but could you post this version with a video with a swipe to watch and with your engagement 10 times? 

So it's more about is this the best option to tell our audience about this thing. I would say nine out of 10 times, probably not. Like, is there a space for it?

In some instances, of course, like there's nuance to everything, but I would say nine out of 10 times, there is a better way to display your service, your offering, your value, your product, than a traditional, say, product photo, which I don't think any brands here are kind of even within that realm. But there are obviously still brands who are stripping their photo shoot content as their social content instead of leading with a social-first strategy. 

I also don't believe that Instagram for most brands, and again this is so like looping everyone into one barrel here, but from my experience and the brands we work with, they're all sorts, D2C B2B, like all sorts. Instagram isn't the platform that's going to drive the most conversion. There's different purpose to different platforms within your Instagram and your TikTok, let alone your different marketing channels, like your email, Twitter, or Influence, or whatever it is, there's a time and a place to sell. 

People don't come on the app to be sold to, they come on to feel something, they come on to share something, they come on to have fun, relax, whatever it is. So if you are sticking an ad, which is a product photo, you are advertising your content, advertising your product, they are highly likely to disengage.

So that it's more about, yes, you've got to show your product. Of course, you've got to show your product if you're a product-based business. But is there a better way to show it than sticking your products on feed? Is there a way actually you can create a feeling that creates this loyal community that means when you do bring something out, they're more likely to buy it than going for the cold hard sell? 

SIAN: Yeah. And it's definitely a balance from a brand perspective. We never share econ imagery, don't we Grace? But there's definitely a balance between having creators, influencers, even your community posting photos with them and posting brand campaigns. 

You really have to find that line between establishing what the brand looks like and feels like, but then also doing that for your community as well. And we've done loads of tests and learned from it because you've got to kind of also take the powers that be on that journey with you. Like you're in there every day, you know exactly what works on your channels, but then to feed that back and be like, you might have spent £50,000 on a shoot and it looks amazing, but you're not gonna get the sales from that. You're gonna get it from somebody who took a photo on the street in their favorite outfit. And it's about finding that kind of balance.

VERITY: Yeah, absolutely. And I think what's been really prominent, especially throughout this year, is that obviously we've seen a growth in creator-led brands as well. And obviously, like I said, the creator content is outperforming anything else. I mean, how do you predict kind of like the whole creator economy changing, I suppose, in the next five years? Like, what is that going to look like in 2020? We could talk an hour on that.

GRACE: The creator economy is fascinating really because really everyone now has the power to become a creator and whether you've got a hundred followers or ten million followers. It's a really interesting one. I think the brands that are currently emerging that are creator led aren't all flying as they might have hoped or aren't all as successful as they might have hoped because actually when these creators have built up an audience who follow X and then you bring out Y, even though they're both your passions and you believe in both of them, you've got an audience who are looking over here and they're not engaged in this. So I think what works really, really well is when an existing brand or an existing business company product offering brings on a very highly aligned creator into a very senior integrated ambassador role and actually maybe they take on part of the business or they take on an actual role.

And it's not necessarily them starting from scratch trying to like sell to this audience who've never been sold to in this way, but they are integrating with an existing brand in a really authentic transparent way bringing their audience with and then you kind of get this lovely combination of power influence audience existing brands that know what they're doing business-wise and I think I can see that becoming a really big thing. 

I mean, obviously we saw it with, like a couple of years ago, Molly May going into PLT, obviously she's left then, going somewhere else next year. And who was, and then you've got like footballers coming in and like leading brands and, who was it really recently, really cool person has gone into another brand. That doesn't sum it up very nicely. A brain fog. It will come to me at the end of the talk. And I'm like, these are really cool partnerships because you're like, that makes sense. 

And then people are in, like you've then suddenly got their whole audience in because you're like, that's trust, that's real, that's amazing. I have, like there has been a few instances of creators starting brands where you're like, oh, who's told you to do that? Do you know what I mean? That doesn't feel right. 

SIAN: But I do also love the ones where you're like, that shouldn't work, but it really does. I can't put my finger on why, but I'm gonna buy it. 

GRACE: I mean, you look at like KSI and Logan Paul, them with Prime. And you think... sometimes it does just work, doesn't it? 

SIAN: Yeah. 

GRACE: Like sometimes you can just build a multi-million dollar brand overnight and it can't stay on the shelves and it doesn't really make any sense, but I guess it does. So there are those instances as well because, I mean, you talk about those type of creators, like their audience is hyper, hyper engaged. We roll back probably because they've been creating long-form content for a really long time and long-form audiences are completely different audience to a short-form audience. 

VERITY: It's almost like, I mean...

I was saying the other day, I feel like brands need to start thinking like content creators when it comes to their content strategy going forward. Is there anything new in terms of the way you'll be working with creators that will involve it going forward? 

SIAN: Probably not anything new. Definitely leaning on that brand thinking like creators. We are hiring creators to work for us in house to create the content, which I think is really important. And we work with creators on longevity projects. We don't like to be flash in the pan kind of campaign, and that will continue for foreseeable with Mint Velvet. So yeah, I wouldn't say there's anything new, just keep doing what we're doing and doing more of it and making sure that it really feels right for the brand. 

GRACE: I think just to carry on from that, it's so important, the difference between a successful and not successful brand partnership is probably longevity. And you get that when you truly, truly invest in the creator and you're not handing them a brief and going, get back to me on that campaign, we'll see how it performs and then we'll see what happens. You're going, we want to talk to your audience, how do you think is best to do that? You lead on the creative because you know your audience better than anyone else and we'll build into that and we'll work with you on that. 

It like blows my mind that we still get sent brand briefs that are so rigid when we both want the shared goal of converting our audience and reaching our audience. 

SIAN: As a brand, we've definitely learnt from that. Like if you're getting in a product, for example, we had a big buy of a leather trench. It's a very niche piece.

So we're working with our ambassadors to kind of push that out. So you want to push that product, but then you're kind of flipping on its head, like, are they ever going to wear that in real life? Like, should they be pushing that? And so we've definitely felt that and we've definitely kind of felt the losses and then the wins from kind of moving in that way. 

VERITY: OK, I want to touch on platforms, conscious of time. A recent study that I read the other day showed that Instagram is still kind of like the number one platform in terms of one driving like the return on investment, but also the kind of the most integral platform. I think obviously it's tried and tested. I mean, we talk about experimentation and just testing new things. I suppose we've got TikTok and YouTube. You've just obviously, you're doing stuff with YouTube shorts, right Grace? With the trends and they obviously follow closely behind Instagram. 

I suppose there's a couple of things. 

Are you gonna be experimenting with new platforms next year? But then also, how do brands kind of keep up with all of these platforms? And the style, obviously, you were talking about long form video, but then YouTube Shorts is obviously, there's been such a rapid adoption of this platform. So yeah, I just asked a bunch of questions there. But Sian, yeah, are you going to be experimenting with new platforms? 

SIAN: Yeah, definitely. And I wouldn't say they're necessarily new, but we're putting more effort, time and money wise into the likes of TikTok, for example. 

Like you said, Instagram is our kind of holy grail, we know it works, we know we can get the return there. Whereas TikTok this year alone, I think I looked at a stat this morning that said, we've grown 19,000% year on year on TikTok. And we're literally just touching the surface, like how incredible is that? So next year, that's kind of where I'm taking the finance directors, like this is where we need to be putting all of our money into TikTok. So yeah, experiment more with TikTok and YouTube is definitely a big one for us as well. We've kind of dipped our toes, not really figured it out yet, but that is definitely going to be a big one. 

VERITY: And YouTube as in a longer form or the YouTube Shorts? 

SIAN: Both, both yeah. I think shorts is probably an easier one for us because we've got the content, we can adapt it, but long is the thing, definitely where we want to establish ourselves and working with content creators to do that for us that are in that space and are successful rather than kind of flogging a dead horse. 

VERITY: Um, and then from a, uh, like a new platform perspective, how do you keep up?

SIAN: You've just got to think, is it right for your brand? Like with the likes of Lemon8, was it called? Or what's the one that's died a slow death? Then if they're not right for your brand, don't just hop on them because everyone else is. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. I'd say that's the ultimate thing, is stay true to who you are as a brand. Because you'll see the brands that are still posting on threads now and they're posting utter crap just to kind of remain relevant. Just turn it off, get out, quit while you're ahead. 

GRACE: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it's what you've said. It's, there's not...

I can't give you a cheat sheet and go, you should jump on these trends, you should jump on these trends. You have to take it all, one, with a pinch of salt, and two, look at your, what are your goals for this year, this quarter, this half? Does that align with them? Like yes, there's a good, like 10%, be experimental, like try new things, figure it out, something might, you know, do really well. But also at the same time, this trend pops up, it doesn't really align with your goals. What's the goal, to go viral?

And virality in a trend that sits over here when your mission is over here is actually really detrimental to the brand. People don't talk about that very often. Actually that Reel getting or that TikTok getting 10 million views can actually be more harmful than good because you've been sent in a, your content's been sent by the algorithm in a certain direction and you're reaching this sort of people and then next time because you're not on that trend in that circle with that community, suddenly your content dies to death and you're like, why is our engagement plummeted when we just got this viral Reel, it doesn't make any sense? And that's because that's how the algorithm works. 

So you do have to kind of have a radius of where you're willing to go and have like a sense checker in your head of going, that trend, not for us. Like that trend doesn't mean, like doesn't work for us, doesn't align with our ground values. Or actually that one is like in that kind of grayer area, but like, let's give it a go every so often, just to keep kind of, keep your foot in the in the mix, but the thing you said about YouTube shorts blowing up, and then it's the other way around on TikTok, like people are talking about long form, YouTube are just late to the short form, or they never thought they were going to go into short form and then decided when they saw TikTok blowing up and they saw Instagram Reels, they were like, we're going to jump in this game as well. 

And YouTube; so, although TikTok has a higher average day duration viewership, YouTube still has double the users of TikTok. So whatever kind of offering they have, like if they bring out a short form content piece, of course it's gonna do well because we know short form has its place. And I also don't want anyone to leave here and like completely rid of their short form strategy next year, like please, I did not say that, it's on camera. Like do not come at me for that. Short form is here to stay, we know it is, it's very engaging, it really engages for certain purposes, certain audience groups. 

I'm just saying like definitely give long form a go next year or think about how you can perhaps experiment with it a bit more than you have this year. Please do not get rid of your short form strategy. Thank you. 

VERITY: Okay so Advocacy. It couldn't be a Duel event if we didn't talk about Advocacy and I suppose for me it kind of feels like we're finally stepping into an era where brands are finally waking up to the power of Advocacy. So there's a couple of things I'd love to kind of just... kind of tap into what steps you've taken with Diary of a CEO to kind of get your listeners into fans and then the fans into Advocates and sort of like the tactics around that piece?

GRACE: I think we're still working on it. I think we're growing at such a kind of rapid rate that we're asking ourselves all the time how do we kind of nurture this growing community, because I think we've got this established fan-based turned ambassadors through the spaces we've allowed them to kind of... be a community. So we have lots of private spaces that are on Telegram or in broadcast channel or on Discord at one point that allow them to exist and allow them to be. We do lots of in-person events and that sort of thing as well, so we've really kind of invested into that core group and now we're thinking, okay, we've got this audience that's growing, they are definitely fans because they're a returning audience, how do we reward them and how do we create some... tiered loyalty scheme for consuming our content. 

So obviously most tiered loyalty schemes, you buy X amount, you get rewarded with X amount, and you work your way up to gold tier or whatever it is. We're thinking how do we do that with the likes of... so we kind of tested the water with Spotify Wrapped. So we worked with Spotify to find our 10 most engaged audience listeners, and we've rewarded them with membership, lifetime for DOAC events and all these other kind of things. But we want to know how we can do that with YouTube and how can we be the first kind of tiered loyalty scheme for content consumption. 

So how can we reward our most loyal, engaged people that come back week on week, who come and DM us or tell us about events and how do we curate all of that into a membership. And so we're thinking a lot about that. I mean, memberships are super popular right now, whether it's a loyalty scheme type thing or, you know, there's, if it's a Patagonia, you just pay a certain membership fee annually. 

There's loads of different ways to do it, but it's definitely kind of the way to go. I think the magic with fan to Advocacy or fan to ambassadorship is allowing them a place to be, allowing them a place to belong. I think, I mean, the absolute brand that smashes Sephora, like their Sephora beauty community is the most phenomenal example of community marketing that I've ever seen. They've created a community content generating machine. And it's because they invested in community marketing as the biggest chunk of their marketing budget about four or five years ago. So they were ahead of the game. 

And now they've got this hub of, I think it's nearly six million users, who review, engage, they're in forums, they're discussing, they allow total transparency, so people are rating stuff amazing, they're rating stuff not well and they're not removing anything. So it's very real and it's very honest. And you go on and it shows how many people are live right now in that space, and it gives that sense of belonging. It's like, it's never less than like a hundred thousand. It's nuts. 

And they also reward people for uploading UGC. They then use that in their marketing content. That is a social first strategy. So if you do get it right, and you do invest in your community, and you turn them into the ambassadors, and you create this Advocacy scheme, you are going to have content coming out of your ears. You will... that is your investment in your marketing for next year. 

So yeah, so it's like, if you can get it right and you really put that investment in early, and I know it's like, it takes time, like speaking to the people at the top about why that creator should be your marketing channel for the year is confusing, but there's so many great examples of people doing it so well that can be case studies for buy-in. Like, I think that's what you wanna do when you're trying to get buy-in from stakeholders who just didn't get it, speak their language, show them who's doing it, the ROI, the money side of things. And be like, just give us a taster. So let us try it. 

VERITY: And Sian, just to kind of like round everything up, you've obviously covered a lot, but in terms of utilizing a community for fashion and beauty brands, like what would just in terms of like summarizing top tips for utilizing them to really get that traction of word of mouth. 

SIAN: Show up where they are, be on the platforms that they are on that feel right for you. Join the conversation, don't just watch it happen. Very much what you were saying, even if it's in DMs or on comments, make sure that you're there and being present. Reward them for being loyal or even just being a fan so that we can help turn them into part of the Advocacy platform or program or whatever you've got going on. And I'd say the ultimate kind of tip is to make them feel part of something. Like we like feeling part of something. How good does it feel when you get a freebie or some brand notices you, then that's fab. Allow them to feel that because I think that's kind of the top tip there; be a part of something. 

VERITY: Amazing. Love those. Perfect timing, because now we've got 10 minutes for Q&A. Anyone got any questions? Please don't be shy. I knew it. 

PAUL: But it's a question that's been asked me quite a few times is it makes a lot of sense, all these techniques for selling makeup, selling dressings, to a female demographic. How does it differ selling products to males and the ones that aren't really friendly, like extreme sports, relates to things with cool videos around a handful of stuff – relatively normal fashion items and things? 

GRACE: You need different strategies, different settings.

I mean, yeah. I mean, so our audience, we have a very 50-50 split. So maybe I'm talking about this from a slightly external point of view. We aren't marketing to a female-heavy audience. And our marketing, as you've probably seen, isn't very generically female. 

If you are thinking, I mean, there's so many different channels to reach the average guy, you just got to go to them. So if you are doing your user research and your average guy who's not into all these kind of extreme niches spends most of his day scrolling Instagram reels, like how can you invade his space? Or is it that he's on Reddit all the time, can you get in a Reddit community? Or does he go and hang out with the guys at the pub, maybe you need to do some physical stuff that's in person? I don't know what it is, but you need to... As you said, it's all about going to where they are. That was something else I was going to add to that.

There's a creator for everyone. So there are the pros and cons of the creator market is it is busy, it is full. There is a lot of them out there. There are fantastic average guys who are doing like fashioning content now, showing up that I'm not gonna remember his name. You probably know the guy in his like uni bedroom who isn't ripped, we'll put it that way, like has a very normal body and just put some outfits together. He has no like fashion background or he's not studying fashion, he's not into fashion, someone was just like, you have some cool stuff, like put it online. And he's super down to earth. And I think it's about studying your creators and finding the perfect, perfect fit to tell your story through because they do exist. 

And the other side of that is your average male, he might not be into like extreme stuff, but he'll have a, I was going to say persona mix, but that is... Yeah, like he might have things that he likes. It's a very marketing term.

And it's about finding those shared interests and reaching them that way. So rather than like selling directly, it's like, oh, you like to go on a run on a Saturday. Maybe we'll put our product in a run club and they'll talk about it afterwards. I know there's really cool like beer brands, for example, that have linked up with some of the biggest running communities in London, which kind of is like, that's an oxymoron, that doesn't make sense. It's a bit hypocritical, like it's health and beer. But actually, the guys who go for a run on Saturday love to have a beer at lunch.

So there's different interests, it's like how can you find those overlaps in the interests and surf through them, but it is really about finding it and actively looking and researching rather than being like, I don't know, it's very easy to sell to females, it's harder to sell to males. I see it as like a really fun challenge to get into their lives. If these guys are insular and they're not looking out and they're not involved in the trends, how do I get into your life? Find a way.


So I talking to everyone here, I think I'm from one of the smaller brands, that's who I'm speaking to. We are very much growing, we are growing really quite fast, which is really exciting. I've come on as their brand on marketing, I know as of September, and it's I think just really a question if you are a slightly smaller brand, but that is growing, you're seeing really an engagement already, where do you think we should be focusing in 2024?

As it's a handbag company, where you change straps to make them match with your outfit. And so do you have any tips for a smaller, but growing brand for next year, on the social platform? 

SIAN: I mean, speaking from Mint Velvet experience, and Paul has not paid me to say this. Duel was an absolute godsend. When I first started Mint Velvet, it was just me on the team, and having to kind of harness a Instagram feed, Pinterest feed, all these kind of social channels. How was I going to do that being a one man band? 

So then we invested in Duel and we invested in our community. And it was such an easy way for one person to be able to manage all of these platforms and create really great content. So I think look at the software you're using, look at your community. And I think you'll probably find the answer there. 

GRACE: We haven't even spoken about it that much, but AI, like I, I don't even say it lightly, the, the things you can now do as a one-man band that you couldn't do six months ago, let alone like two years ago, is phenomenal. Whether it's everything from like your, literally your content creation in seconds through to text to video platforms, through to cutting your long form. You don't need to go to a production company. Leaning into the areas where you feel kind of less equipped, to get stuff over the line or to demonstrate value. 

I mean, for example, we use it a lot to visualize products before they come out so we can pitch them in. That would have taken graphic designers slash product creators and designers weeks of iteration and now we're doing it in kind of seconds, minutes to get the ball rolling and I think there's one part of this which is like you don't need to go as your the growth is fantastic and make sure you're really truly deeply like smashing your platforms before you be like, hey, we need to win every single platform. You absolutely do not. You just need to be where your audience are. And if they're predominantly on a couple of platforms, start there and just really kind of invest in that. But also just lean into the tools that are there to help. 

I still think people will win. People in jobs, they're not going anywhere, but these tools are just getting us to the answers quicker. So lean into them. And there are literally every day emerging, whether it's you need to speed up your kind of caption writing or use your scheduling tool to understand sentiment around competitor brands that then informs kind of your content strategy or whatever it is. Allow it to kind of speed up your process because it's hard when you're like a small team and you're trying to figure it out but like lean into the tools that are there to help and it will allow your growth to kind of three-fold, ten-fold whatever it is. It is like phenomenal.

L.R.: Have you got an example of where you used your community to uncover future product trends or future marketing strategies to make them feel part of the both? We've done it in a way that maybe hasn't uncovered future plans but has kind of changed plans?

SIAN: So we were previously really well known for our pair of leggings, which was crazy of all the kind of product we sell. Leggings were the things that she loved and we slightly changed the fit of the leg in. I think it was either the fit or like a thread. It was something so minimal.

And one of the leggings major buyers wrote into our CEO and was like, your leggings just don't fit me like they used to. I've been a fan of your leggings for years. What's changed? And we actually then changed back to the old kind of fit because we were like, if she's feeling this, then there must be loads of other customers that are feeling the exact way. So that's probably kind of the golden story there in terms of listening to your customers, not necessarily to inform future decisions, but change the ones that you've possibly made wrong. 

GRACE: Yeah, I probably agree that we haven't, for example, like the first Diary Of A CEO book that came out in August, we ran a competition for users to create the front cover and that meant that when we got loads of inspiration, two, it was organic marketing because everyone was sharing these covers, and three, we were able to bring our community on the journey of the design. So when one of them got the cover on at the end of it, they literally were part of this book. 

So we've now got this person who, and this community who helped us create a Penguin published book that was in the Sunday Times, they're selling this and they feel like they came on that journey with us, that's what we were talking about earlier. The other thing, it's slightly different, but we have just started working with a group of people who pre-watch our podcast episodes before they come out to understand the bits that are most interesting. So they are now curating episodes before it before it goes public. 

So what would have happened before is you have editors who put it up, obviously with their own bias or maybe misunderstanding of the most interesting points, which always happens. It goes live, you wait a week for YouTube to give you some feedback. By that point, it's too late to do any changes. So we've kind of reversed the process. So we're getting that data from different kind of communities before investing in that feedback so that when it goes out, it is optimized piece of content. 

So I think although that's not gonna be a model where everyone can like copy and paste, there's definitely like a mindset in there where it's like, why put it out, cross our fingers and hope for the best – why not reverse it and bring people in? 

I mean, obviously, like things like focus groups and all of that sort of thing as old as it goes, shouldn't mean testing, product testing, user testing, all of that stuff. But is there a way you can bring your ambassadors in to final stages or something where even if the decision has already been made, they feel like they made the decision; because then they feel like they built it with you. So yeah, that's something we think about at the moment. Always. 

VERITY: It was perfect timing. I mean, I've never like unprepared something and it worked so well. 

GRACE: It's always the best way. 

VERITY: Amazing. Thank you so much. I know I got a lot from that. Hope you guys did as well. 

SIAN: Yeah, thank you so much. 

GRACE: Thank you.