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The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios


The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios

Social media subcultures are small groups within social media platforms made up of individuals with interests not held by the majority. For brands, identifying these social media subcultures is critical for developing an authentic content strategy that reaches their target audience effectively.

Blue Hour Studios is a one-stop social content shop that offers services in nearly every aspect related to social media, including content creation, strategy and creative development, talent partnerships, and consumer engagement. 

Monika Ratner, Head of Growth at Blue Hour Studios, shares, “The premise behind starting Blue Hour is we started to see some really big shifts in how social media behaved and what consumers expected from brands within social spaces. We saw that there was a need for an agency who could really have their ear to the ground and understand those big shifts.”

The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios

Blue Hour Studios helps brands adapt by completing original research and trend tracking to answer questions like these: 

  • What do people think about mainstream pop culture?
  • What do they think about influencers?
  • What are their expectations of brands?

Monika explains that this sets them apart from other studios. 

“A lot of social media shops or broader marketing shops are working off of traditional or old social norms focusing on things like followers and list building and talking to their audience like they’re a broad demographic. Blue Hour is really focused on something we call subcultures, and it’s really all these thriving niche communities.”

The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios

Blue Hour Studios’ Services

One of Blue Hour’s most popular packages is a “subculture playbook,” a collection of first-party research. The Blue Hour team will study 10 to 20 specific subcultures for a brand, providing a fantastic starting point for their influencer marketing strategy. 

Another service is developing a creator network that identifies “everyday” influencers that people trust. Monika explains that people don’t trust traditional influencers like they used to, so identifying those everyday influencers with smaller followings and deep personal relevance to specific groups of people is critical. 

In addition, Blue Hour Studios offers a product called Maven, which is scalable short-form video, such as TikToks, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. 

Monika says, “We’re spending more and more time on that [short-form video] that we are with TV. It’s really engaging. I saw a stat the other day that said 18 to 75-year-olds find short-form video the most engaging type of video content.”

Blue Hour Studios’ Maven product zeros in on producing authentic short-form video content starring the brand. 

Then, the Blue Hour team uses targeted distribution and optimizes the content for the leading KPI, which could be anything from brand awareness, free trial sign-ups, email collection, or driving sales.  

The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios

Developing and Executing a Successful Marketing Campaign

Monika shares that every successful marketing campaign starts with developing an honest relationship with the brand. 

She explains, “I really find that the role of Blue Hour is to have healthy arguments and discussions and sort of be a sounding board to think through what our brands really should be doing within social or not.”

These healthy discussions lead to clear alignment on the brand’s biggest goals, then the team speaks with the brand about risk. 

Monika shares, “If you don’t take some risk in social, you’re just not going to cut through. That doesn’t mean doing something that’s off-brand. You absolutely want to sound and act and behave in a way that feels like the persona that your brand is and represents, but that doesn’t mean just staying within your super conservative lane.”

Successful Case Studies

One of the first case studies that came to mind for Monika was working with an entertainment brand to develop an emerging creator network. The brand is well-known and has a significant following, but it needed to gain hold of its audience as its viewers continued to get younger. 

Monika explains, “We collaborated with them to find ten emerging creators across Instagram and TikTok and Shorts… They [the creators] went to the headquarters and met with incredible talent across the entertainment brands’ portfolios, amazing producers, anchors, people that work on their social media team, really a ton of thought leaders.”

These thought leaders shared lessons with the group of emerging creators, and the creators shared critical insights into social media, specifically related to younger sports fans. 

This information exchange was priceless for both sides.

For this campaign, Blue Hour Studios looked at how many times the creators posted of their own will about the campaign and brand, then closely looked at the number of organic impressions. They also looked at the press and the narrative they crafted about how innovative the entertainment brand was for teaming up with these emerging creators. 

Finding the Right Creators

Creators are first identified using specialized technology. Creators that make it to the next stage are then scored on four to five criteria, which differ per campaign. Examples of the criteria could include brand alignment, content proficiency on TikTok, or the creator’s audience footprint. 

She notes, “As much as possible, we want to work with people that are going to be the most effective and aligned with the needs of the campaign. We want to work with different people all the time. Sometimes, it makes sense to work with the same creator time and time again to build that long-term relationship, but also, we want to make sure that we’re bringing new talent to the forefront.”

The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios

Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong

One of the biggest challenges with influencer marketing is well-meaning brands that provide influencers with an exact campaign guide of everything they must say, in what order, how they can say it, and more.

Monika shares that this misses the point of working with the influencer, who knows how to communicate with their audience best. 

Monika says, “Give some trust to the influencer. Making sure that there’s some real connection between the brand and the influencer before you even start working together is a way to combat that.” 

Some clients aren’t ready to accept how they need to work in social media today differently than they did a couple of years ago. 

Monika has a lot of empathy for that because her entire career has been in social media, and things are constantly changing. 

She shares, “What really works in social today [is] speed and chaos. It’s not putting a content calendar together. It’s having a team ready to listen to trends, understand the subcultures, and jump into the conversation.”

Monika’s biggest advice for businesses looking to improve their social media presence: Be less risk-averse and make influencers a huge part of your social media strategy. 

Staying Up to Date on the Latest Trends

Blue Hour Studios has an entire strategy team dedicated to trend tracking and conducting research, which helps them stay on top of trends and developments in digital marketing. 

The team always keeps in mind that Gen Zers no longer believe in mainstream pop culture. 

Unlike previous generations connected by what was on TV, Gen Zers have access to extremely specific and niche content. These feelings have spread to other generations as social media grows in popularity. 

Monika adds that Blue Hour Studios is also an affiliate of Horizon Media which has an excellent research team that consistently releases new studies, reports, and trend findings. 

Upcoming Plans

Blue Hour Studios is planning on its second annual Influencer Infronts, launching in June 2023. 

The Importance Of Social Media Subcultures With Monika Ratner, Head of Growth At Blue Hour Studios
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Amy DeYoung is a freelance blog post writer covering influencer marketing and business topics. As the daughter of two business owners, she's been fascinated by all things business from a young age, which led her to graduate from college with a bachelor's degree in business. When she's not typing away, she spends her time reading nonfiction books and mystery novels, baking scrumptious desserts, and playing with her dog.

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