Bleacher Report’s Bryan Graham on Measuring Social Success

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Bryan Graham didn’t set out to work in social media.

In fact, Graham went to school to study economics and then ended up getting his MBA from the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University. For most, his path is a far cry from what most would consider a traditional social media educational background.

Graham began his journey at Bleacher Report in 2015 on the company’s operations side. It wasn’t long, though, before he transitioned over to social. Now, four years later, he oversees the social moments team B/R.

A true student of his profession, Graham offers a unique vantage point on social media success, why B/R is investing heavily in sub-brands and what the company is thinking about when they are ideating around social ideas.

Edited highlights appear below:

On Being Straight Up With Each Other (2:04)

“Lots and lots of planning, analysis, creative honesty, and manpower go into our content. One of the things that we talk about constantly is let’s just be blunt with each other. Let’s be really, really clear on what really moves the needle. It’s not enough to spend a lot of time and energy creating something. Once you create it, you made something, but now is it actually good? Not just is it good, is it worthy of stopping someone from scrolling past it on their timeline or is it actually standing out next to another publisher who’s trying to compete and create content around the same exact event that we’re creating content for? That type of energy is what you’re going to get when we’re in any of our brainstorms or any of our Slack conversations. We have a healthy relationship with each other. It’s always respectful, but more than anything, we’re not going to fake the funk with each other.”

On Not Being Afraid to Fail (4:36)

“Honestly, it’s two big things. Anybody that is on our social team, whether it is my group or any other group, I trust their taste. I believe that these people have the best taste in the industry, bar none. Second, Twitter and IG comments are the mob. Some people are just doing it for the clout, they’re doing it for retweets, they want their own page to pop. If you can come off our content, you’re welcome. We’re not really stressed about that.”

Social on the Sidelines is Presented to You By:

On Hiring (7:54)

“Every new person I bringing onto the team adds something to the room. There’s a lot of great people out there, but my judgment and what I ask myself is if I put them in a brainstorm, are they adding a new perspective. Is there a new voice, a new POV, a new set of life experiences that this person is adding to the gumbo that we have in our brainstorms?”

“You have to be very, very discerning. ‘Cause that means that you have to say no to some people that you really like and think are dope, but you know, you’ve got to be honest with yourself.”

On Investment in Sub-Brands (13:16)

“The bigger the B/R national account gets, the more our POV and type of content we do is going to have to spread. From those accounts, we won’t be able to go as deep on the topics as niche fans of amateur hoops or sneakers would like us to do.”

“The sub-brands are for someone who is addicted to looking at pictures of Karl Anthony Towns walking into the arena and looking at his shoes. That’s what our Kicks page is for.”

“In terms of what’s next, I’m not going to ruin any surprises, but there definitely are some sub-brands that are coming, for sure. It’s definitely going to be an emphasis of ours. It’s something I’m excited about because I really think that we’re a brand that can talk about whatever we choose to. I think that we’re living in a time where people’s interests are really, like, converging. There is no separation between, you know, music and fashion and pop culture and sport. Like, all these things are kind of converging. Under our larger umbrella, we have an avenue to talk about a lot of different things.”

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