Jason Stein, the CEO of Cycle and founder of agency Laundry Service, joined members of Digiday+ on Thursday for a Slack town hall. We discussed the challenges of building a media company out of an agency, why influencer marketing has its issues and more.

Digiday holds Slack town halls every two weeks, and in between, we’ll have editorial chats and group discussions on industry topics. Become a member of Digiday+ and join us.

Here’s what you missed from our chat with Stein.

Building a media company out of an agency
“Media companies are building agencies because that’s the best way for them to monetize digital now that so much of their reach is across social platforms. We’re building media brands because agencies (branded content and distribution, to be specific) are the best way to monetize and happen to have a pretty good background in doing those things. So, we need to build media brands faster than media companies can build agencies.”

Staffing and having go-to content formats are the biggest changes
“For Cycle, we needed to build out an entire editorial team, which is now 20 full-time employees. We also had to create a sales team for the first time to sell to media buying agencies. It took a year to get both right. We didn’t have clear content formats when we started. We knew our brand and what we stood for, but we really started grooving as a media company when we had four or five highly repeatable and shareable content formats.”

Impact is most important when it comes to ROI on content
“Reach is a commodity. Anyone can buy reach. And if you want to buy reach, you go directly to Google and Facebook. You don’t need a publisher for reach. If you want impact and cultural relevance, you go to a publisher or media company. The best way to measure that is shares/retweets/engagements. We focus mainly on shares per post, and I am pretty sure at Cycle, we have the highest shares per post rate of any publisher across Facebook and Twitter.”

Influencer campaigns need to involve the influencer
“The biggest things to focus on with influencer campaigns: Making sure the talent really likes and cares about and would use your product, and trying to form long-term relationships with them. Also, running media buys on the talents’ channels is critical. Make sure the content is great. Also: Make sure you brief the talent well and help them create the type of content you want (high quality). Especially when it comes to videos with influencers, we collaborate on creative and then we execute the production and editing for them to ensure quality. Or, if you’re working with talent that isn’t a photographer, we often shoot it. But we’d never run content on talent channels that was made purely by the brand without their input or them being in it.”

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