Together, we’ve done it! SKM + BlogHer = #1 women’s lifestyle company in digital media. I’m so proud of this team.
Today I’m also announcing that I’ll change my status to BlogHer Emeritus, amicably leaving the company this December. In the past year I've had the honor of moderating a town hall meeting between President Barack Obama and our community and helping our first jointly-produced conference set records for programming quality, buzz and reach.
Congratulations, Elisa, on your promotion!
I don’t have any news today about my next gig. After a decade as co-founder | CEO, I do have parting thank you note, with some insights for this incredible community and for other entrepreneurs who are increasingly working to make a difference –– in health, equal pay, education, and inclusivity, be it entrepreneurship, hiring, networking, or investing, here and globally.
If I turned these insights into an animated GIF, I’d dress up as Banksy for Halloween and spray paint the word “MOVEMENT” over the word “marketing.” Everywhere.
Powerful movements in social media are created with the user, not broadcast at her. I’m not talking about semantics. I’m talking about the difference between arms-length messaging versus working in the trenches with the user.
There’s no faking a mission or your intention. A movement can be about anything, from software to human kindness. There – that’s the short version of my advice.
Here’s the long version of what has worked for BlogHer in scaling a movement right and tight, every day after day, in a way that builds user trust:
Arm your movement with data.
In 2005, many were skeptical women would blog. But our data were solid: Women already were addicted to writing and reading women’s blogs of staggering scale and quality. First we used data to beat external stereotypes, second to burst our own assumptions, and ultimately to inspire our community. That’s how we paid more than $36 million to nearly 6,000 bloggers and social media creatives FY 2009-2013. Keep the data coming.
Refuse to profit from hate and harassment #FTW.
BlogHer’s policy helped us train our community to lead robust, civil disagreements across blogs and social media. IMO we didn’t sacrifice any of our community’s First Amendment rights to throw down on any issue – but we did decline to profit from hate and harassment. Retention and recruiting of reach and revenue accelerated. Everyone wins.
Radical inclusivity is an enterprise superpower.
We wanted to protect our mission from our own unconscious biases. So we adopted diversity as a core value to help us build more robust communities, content, events, products, revenue streams, teams, advisors, technologies and uses of social media.
Because we didn't succumbed to investor pressure to sacrifice that value, BlogHer developed the movement and tech platform we used to attract top voices and Fortune 100 sponsors from finance to fashion.
Storytelling has a kernel code.
Whether it’s tucked into a text ad or bedazzled on a t-shirt, storytelling is how users fall in love with a movement. There’s no one way or place to tell stories humans retell (although I believe we need long-form stories, it’s in our DNA).
What every shareable story needs to be is inclusive – invite your community into the telling – and accessible, so she can play with you across media types. But don’t bother without quality characters. What’s quality? Depends - see “data” above.
“Kill your darlings” and ask experts for help.
As CEO, I learned to wield my weapons and pour the tea, navigating the pressure and the worlds of team, investors and customers with no apologies.
How? Our family. My gifted co-founders—now dear friends. And my colleagues, every member of this team, including a kitchen cabinet of bloggers and other entrepreneur BFFs, who worked with me to constantly analyze, criticize and evolve everything about our mission-driven business model. Including me. Thank you.
That’s it for now. Thanks for everything you continue to teach me. Know that, as my long-time colleagues and community, you can always call on me for help and support, individually and via the exciting company that is SheKnows Media.
P.S. My apologies for the bouts of karaoke. They will continue.
Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder
Expert Parallel-Parker, Brainstormer and Karaoke Groupie
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