Office Hours: I'm the co-founder and chief content officer of arfa and was formerly executive producer at Vice Media. I'm Ariel Wengroff.Featured
Hi everyone! I’m Ariel Wengroff, co-founder and chief content officer of arfa, a new consumer goods company that develops personal care brands based on close relationships with the people who use them. I am also an executive in residence at LionTree. I was formerly a publisher, chief of staff, and executive producer at Vice Media, finance director at Welch for Congress, blogger at Huffington Post, and communications director at the Vermont Democratic Party. I have a bachelor’s degree in English, political science, and sociology from the University of Vermont. Ask me anything about content, community, the startup journey, media, and more! :)
Thanks so much for joining us @arielwengroff!Elphas – please ask @arielwengroff your questions before Friday, October 30th. @arielwengroff may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Thanks! I'm going to start replying now :)
Hi Ariel! You have such a fascinating career! What's one thing you wish more people understood about creating meaningful content?
Hi Christina, nice to e-meet you. Sometimes I worry people follow trends before thinking, what story isn't being told in the room? If that film or documentary had extra time, whose storyline would we follow? Those are the meaningful stories I'm curious about right now. We tend to follow arcs that have been done before to satisfy others needs. Let's focus on the stories that have yet to be shared. Paola Ramos in her new book said, If we haven't named people how can we expect them to show up for us? In reference to LatinX voters in 2016. I think that's very applicable to meaningful content as well. We cannot build new audiences and platforms if we are not sharing new stories and building up unheard voices. Thanks, Ari
So good to "meet" you, Ariel! I am leaning more heavily into writing and content at MyWellbeing (mywellbeing.com, @findmywellbeing on socials), as I've finally hired a few teammates and am able to delegate to focus on the things I love and feel more talented in. We are going to be creating more content for social, youtube, and internal materials and courses. What stands out to you as something (or a few things!) you learned along the way that you were not expecting? Anything you'd change, or that you wish you knew in advance // you'd tell your younger self looking back?
Congrats that sounds exciting! I think I speak to this a little in a few other posts, but honestly a few things that are always true: spellcheck over and over again ;), build open communication with your team so that they can really tell you how they feel about a story, make sure you are holding stand ups to get feedback from different types of people to make sure your articles are inclusive, always review headlines multiple times to make sure they're relevant and WHY they matter (is it for SEO, straight to the point, clickbait, the advertising partner, etc = who does it really serve and is that the right choice?), fact check, don't focus so much on the title of your YouTube video as much as the thumbnail, and always be open to learning more. For internal materials, remember and assume that people always have unconscious bias and it's important to think how that can show up in all internal materials too. I wish I just told my younger self to sweat less of the small stuff. I'm a zero inbox person and that's gotten harder over the last two years. Just trying to be kind about it :) It's a marathon, not a sprint. And always cold reach out to someone. Even if it takes a few times, they'll appreciate it.
Hi Ariel! Thank you for being here. Would love the most surprising or best advice you have learned/earned over the years around effective multimedia content creation :)
Hi Jessica, lovely to meet you! Honestly, always trust your gut and be yourself. I know that sounds really corny, but if you're going to be a storyteller and create trustworthy content, you have to be comfortable enough with yourself in order to actively listen and truly listen to the character or story you're sharing with the world. Otherwise it will likely get obstructed by your own experience, bias, or an outcome you might feel you need for your boss/network/platform etc. On a more practical level, always check the audio to make sure you're actually getting an audio track for later and bring extra cards and batteries. Also it depends on the type of content you're making. I default to documentaries and in that case, never try to predict the outcome. You should have a good sense of the answers someone will give or where it will go, but if you try to force the story the audience will know it. Sometimes the best content come from change.Hope that helps, Ari
Hi @arielwengroff thank you so much for giving us your time this week! What do you think are some good ways for D2C companies to build their brands? I have been fascinated by strategies used by companies like Glossier or Peloton to build their brands and really impose themselves as leaders in their specific niche. And do you think with COVID some strategies will work better than others (e.g it is clear that e-commerce wins vs physical stores) but anything else you can shed light on? Would love to get your thoughts!
Lovely to meet you Iynna! Great question. I see no separation between commerce and media companies, so when you say D2C I think of both as examples and cases to study.The biggest thing we all need to remember is that what has traditionally been considered 'niche' is more people than we think, it's just that in the past it was traditionally white men determining what is the majority and what is niche, so now we get to break those barriers and watch consumers spend and consume with people who see them properly. For example, someone I was talking with recently describes a great brand that resonates with them as, "When I buy something from them, it's like I'm buying my voice back."Community is at the heart of everything (like the brands you mention above), but that means you really need to stand for something and be very clear and consistent about it, and you need to evolve as your base does too. Legacy brands have such a top down approach and I don't think the age of your customer matters, most consumers today want to feel a part of the community and influence the brand they're purchasing from. Through COVID we've seen 5-10 years of trends speed up in just a few months. There's a ton of growth to come from e-commerce, but I wouldn't count out physical stores, just the relationship between retail and e-commerce will change, the way the customer buys, returns, experiences. A lot of brands that used retail didn't know their customers. Brands customers were actually the retailers. Now that is evolving. A great example of that is actually MikMak. E-commerce just changes the way you provide information to your customer, you have more space to explain than on a shelf. A shelf is more in your face, the product and colors and brand potentially matter more. The competition, etc. And I wouldn't rule out sustainability. I would focus on community, conversation, and honesty.I get more into this here if it's helpful: https://prosandcontent.knotch.com/posts/ariel-wengrof
i'm about to start my solo-prenuership in 2 weeks' time. Just wonder which SaaS do you pick for  expense/receipt/invoice/accounting management  pipeline  site/bot? trillion of thanks in advance. In return, is there anything I can be of help? I'm fairly skilled in tapping the Chinese market
Hello Ariel! Thank you for taking some time to reach back. I am interested in creating a content focused platform and one question that has come up is how would you go about calculating the amount of new published content you need to achieve daily on a platform to create an optimal experience for end users? Specifically, we are looking to figure out what the first threshold is that we should be aiming for and prioritizing. I appreciate your time!
Great question Zeni. This depends on your content type and mission. I'm going to assume for the purposes of this example that it's editorial content. Depending on how frequently you want your audience to visit the site, you can choose to publish once a day, multiple times a day, or when you publish a new package of articles.I'm a believer that when you launch for the first time, you should have at least one package published, along with your mission statement or letter from the editor, so that your audience clearly understands your point of view and what they can find on the site. That also will allow you to define then how much you want to publish and set that expectation with the audience. It can always change over time, but I wouldn't underestimate the work of publishing multiple times a day. With newsletters much more common today, you could always choose to publish a package and highlight one piece from each package on a different day in your newsletter, etc. Quality over quantity always in my opinion. There's so much information out there already. When you start to publish more and more it's either to meet demand, or to make sure you're creating a habit with your audience, so that they're regularly engaging with your platform. I would just think, how will the audience know when I publish? Through social? Through email capture? Through partnership promotions? LMK if that's helpful, Ari