5 Questions: The digital publisher formerly known as Keli Networks is going all in on original content and beauty-focused videos
With five brands currently running on Facebook, Jellysmack (formerly known as Keli Networks) has achieved substantial success in the social video space. After surviving Facebook’s infamous algorithm change in early 2018 — a change that resulted in publishers like Little Things closing their doors — the company says it has grown its following to more than 170 million engaged monthly users, with over 70 percent in the core 18-24 demographic.
In September, under the leadership of co-founders Michael Philippe and Robin Sabban, the company raised $14 million in Series A funding and beefed up its executive team by adding a list of industry veterans who previously worked at Mashable, Tumblr and Refinery29.
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We caught up with Philippe to discuss where the new funding is being invested in and how the company is using the beauty-centric content to drive revenue.
1. What area of the business has Jellysmack invested the since its $14 million funding round in September?
We’ve used the investment to double down on developing original programming. Since raising our Series A, we’ve produced over twenty new original shows: “Boys Do It Too,” celebrating male beauty, “Game Props IRL,” DIY on how to create your favorite video game props, and “Freestyle Ultimate Battle,” where we put the world’s top freestylers against each other in unique and compromising situations and more.
Secondly, we’ve been focused on expanding our communities to new platforms with an emphasis on Snapchat and Instagram. We launched the majority of our brands on both platforms late in the summer of 2018 and are now already averaging 1.6 billion story views per month.
Outside of creating and producing original shows we have in house tech platforms that we’ve built to provide trends and insights for our content creation. We’ve invested heavily in growing that team to build products to discover, optimize, and create content as we expand to new platforms, and develop new shows and communities.
2. What innovation within the digital video space are you most excited for this year?
We believe participatory content is going to be huge in the upcoming years. The ability to help influence the outcome of that content is going to drive conversation even further and create more dimensional fandoms. A video is a natural conversation starter whether you watch it on your phone or in a theater and the more the audience can be involved the more engagement you’ll see around the content.
We’ve been playing around with innovative ways to get our community to participate. We’ve used Facebook Groups to source content for Gamology’s celebratory gameplay show “Pixel Heroes” and we’ve written members of the community into episodes of our animated riddle show “Riddle Me This.” The fun the community has with these gestures is the start of how the audience will be more involved in the outcome of the content.
3. Jellysmack has the same IP across multiple social media platforms. How does the company make sure that content which started on Facebook and ended up on Snapchat doesn’t come off as “copy and pasted”?
Jellysmack takes a community approach when developing new verticals or shows. Passions transcend platforms which makes our shows successful on each platform. We develop shows around people’s interests, not around their demographics.
That’s why a show like “Riddle Me This” has over 1 million followers on Instagram, 5.3 million fans on Facebook, and 2.4 million monthly uniques on Snapchat. The shows speaks to riddle lovers everywhere no matter their demographics or preferred platforms.
When we do cross-promote original content, we always consider the audience and their consumption habits, especially when it comes to effective social copy and video editing. With a variable element like vertical video, we see it as an opportunity to play around and add in more motion graphics. We’re continually looking for ways to enhance the viewer experience during the re-editing process.
4. In two years, do you still see Jellysmack content living mainly on social platforms or are there plans to move beyond Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat?
We’re focused on engagement and communities, so these platforms are the most natural place for us to connect to people to their passions. We’re currently seeing 170 million monthly engagements (comments, shares, and likes) cross-platform, we will continue to build our community there.
With that said, we’re always keeping our ears to the ground and exploring new opportunities to share our original programming with a broader audience. Most recently, we’ve been working on plans to build our audience on TikTok and Twitch.
5. With millions of followers and shows across multiple platforms, beauty has been a successful area of focus for the company. Do you plan to expand beyond video into actual products?
Absolutely. Beauty Studio is now our largest community with 1.6 billion views per month and is ranked the number one creator on Tubular’s beauty leaderboard. Jenifer Geller recently joined Jellysmack to lead all beauty sales and partnerships. She’s a seasoned beauty executive who will spearhead all of our beauty revenue opportunities. We’ve also been in R&D for expanding our offerings past video, but it’s still in the works.
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