Philip Ellis
News & Views
How to run a Gen Z media brand without a website

Obsessee is a publication covering the subjects that Gen Z are passionate about, from fashion to social justice issues. But unlike other mags pushing out content in this area (Teen Vogue being the most celebrated), Obsessee operates solely on social media, with no website at all.

Described as “editorially led but data driven” by parent company Clique Media’s CEO Katherine Power, Obsessee is something of a gateway drug. By publishing native content across ten social platforms, Obsessee hopes to capture the interest (and loyalty) of girls aged 14 and up, who will then go on to buy  into other Clique properties.

“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,” said Power a year ago when Obsessee launched.

And if you’re trying to reach a consumer group which values honesty and authenticity over all else, this isn’t the worst approach. “Our stories feel like updates from a friend rather than traditional journalism because our content is created by and for our Gen Z community,” says Obessee editorial director Naomi Nevitt.

Crafting content specifically for platforms creates contextual relevance lacking in more traditional media brands, which publish links to articles on Facebook and Twitter solely to draw traffic to their website. However, according to digital marketing analyst Rebecca Lieb, Obsessee is an interesting experiment but it still faces risk that other publishers don’t: “They may have many subscribers, but the ‘who sees the post’ algorithm can change… The publisher doesn’t own or control those platforms, which of course are subject to change at any moment.”

This alternative model also poses challenges for potential advertising revenue partnerships, with Lieb predicting that the sales and execution process would be “more complex and arguably less scalable.” That said, Obsessee has developed a series of successful brand integrations so far, with big brands like Samsung and Hollister eager to directly engage with this growing demographic.

Next steps for Obsessee include an increase in investment in video content, presumably in response to recent research which indicated that 50% of Gen Z “can’t live without YouTube,” as well as continued exploration of other, more “dynamic” ways to tell stories.

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