Kate Jhaveri and Michael Aragon
former senior vice presidents of global marketing and content, Twitch
When you're building and preserving an innovative brand, you have to try innovative things, even if not everyone around the table is convinced.
Editor's Note: The following profile appeared in Tuck Today in 2018.
Marketing a Disruptive Brand
Since its founding in 2011, the popular social live streaming platform Twitch.tv has been fielding the same question over and over: “Why would anyone watch online videos of people playing video games?” But the reason why users view video gaming content is almost beside the point because, they are. And they’re watching a lot of it.
Twitch, which was bought by Amazon in 2014, boasts 15 million daily active users, and is the world’s leading social video platform. According to Alexa, it is the 17th most popular website in America and 44th in the world.
And leading the marketing and innovation of Twitch’s growing global brand are two Tuck alumni: Kate Jhaveri T’03, senior vice president of global marketing, and Michael Aragon T’01, senior vice president for content.
Though Aragon and Jhaveri graduated from Tuck just two years apart, they didn’t meet until early 2017 in the Twitch offices. Jhaveri, who has been head of consumer marketing for Twitter, head of brand and mobile marketing for Facebook, and director of marketing for Microsoft, joined Twitch seeking an exciting new opportunity. And Aragon, who was a vice president and general manager for global digital video at PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment for more than a decade, was hired as senior vice president for content at Twitch in February 2017.
Jhaveri and Aragon took a break from innovating the world of digital video to share their tips on building and marketing a disruptive brand.
Content is only as good as the marketing that goes with it.
We each run our own teams—Mike’s creates partnerships to bring new content to the network, while Kate’s focuses on the brand and how to tell interesting stories—but we work closely together: content is marketing and marketing is content. Twitch has e-sports events that get one– to two–million concurrent viewers, but also newer verticals adjacent to that core audience, like anime, sci-fi, cosplay, and artists. Even the best content is a tree falling in the woods without a modern marketing team who can amplify and attract new audiences.
When we think about the power of Twitch, it’s not just what we do on the site or the mobile apps, it’s about the living, breathing community that is using it. It’s critical that any brand understands its community members, talks to them in a language they understand, addresses their needs, and gets them excited. We recently held a three-day TwitchCon which drew over 20,000 people —the power of community is astonishing in person. It’s a chance for them to hear about new features and initiatives, but just as importantly, for them to know that they’re part of something big.
Focus on the right customer.
Twitch is a two-sided marketplace with both content creators and viewers. We’ve always had the mantra “creators first,” which means thinking about how we can help creators make a better living and create a deeper audience connection. If creators are inspired and do well, they’ll want to make more content, which brings more viewers, which helps creators earn more money. People always say “know your customer,” but also consider which customers to focus on.
Align your vision, but empower your staff.
We’ve written a six-page memo outlining where we want to go in the next 18 months, and we prioritize that shared vision over day-to-day coordination. The idea is to make sure everyone is on the same page with what we’re trying to accomplish, and then unleash everyone to run as fast as they can at different opportunities. The key is that everyone is running at the same point on the horizon. You don’t have to be at every meeting if you have a shared vision.
Experiment to decide.
One of Twitch’s core values is to go to market quickly and iterate fast. Plan thoughtfully and ensure you can measure success, but don’t get bogged down in overthinking. Sometimes you don’t get things quite right, but it’s better to get a product or feature to market with 80 percent of what you want, and let customers tell you what works and what doesn’t. Accept that you’re not going to be 100 percent right all the time, but you can always pivot based on customer feedback.
Disagree, but then commit.
As aligned as we are, we don’t always agree with each other’s ideas. Rather than allow disagreement to be paralyzing, our guiding light is that it’s okay to disagree, but then we quickly commit to a path forward. We often say, “I don’t agree, but let’s try it.” When you’re building and preserving an innovative brand, you have to try innovative things, even if not everyone around the table is convinced. If everyone had to agree on everything, nothing would get done.
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