Margarita Noriega joined Glitch a year ago, and has since founded its tech culture publication, Glimmer, which launched in February. Glimmer consists of Podcasts (run by Glitch’s Media team), Original Features (assigned to freelancers), and The Playlist and Starter Kits, which lean more toward content marketing (sourced and written internally). Margarita says you won’t see a ton of content marketing in the podcasts, and you’ll see almost none of it in the original features. Though she reports to Marketing, her role as Principal Editor combines content marketing with editorial.
What made Glitch decide they needed an editor to champion content?
The original Culture Zine came out of a very strong personal love for zine culture at Glitch. I think there was a cultural and technical skill set alignment when Glitch launched and they started producing media formats that really aligned with the skills of the people in the room. Eventually you get to a point where the people in the room cannot tell the stories in the formats you need for other things. At some point, tiny experimental media content doesn’t work as well for general audience brand awareness.
I was hired to run a zine that wasn’t in print, for a tech company that is really a community, about cultural topics, for an industry that’s been pretty controversially connected to culture. So there were all these threads I had to undo and then try to weave back together. And that led to the Culture Zine becoming Glimmer.
We were using Ghost for the Culture Zine, and we loved Ghost. We needed something that our brand partners could jump into as a CMS. So we knew we needed to make a choice about ramping up our backend to create a website along with the platform.
Glitch is already a platform, that’s what we call the Glitch community, and that’s really what you see in the messaging on glitch.com. But there also has to be an engine for creating content that isn’t in an app, that isn’t a zine. We still do a lot of content as apps, but they are very experimental. So from a marketing perspective, editorial perspective, and the media team’s perspective, we needed juicier stuff.
We chose Prismic, it’s a newer CMS. We’re running Glimmer off of Prismic and that allows us to do all sorts of content strategy we couldn’t do before. And of course, that requires an editor. Before I came to Glitch, I was consulting and contracting for companies, and that included WordPress. So I came in with a certain knowledge of the CMS world.
So has the mission of your editor position changed in the last year?
It’s changed so much. I keep coming back to this idea that many people said at the same time. Four or five years ago, a lot of people were coming up with this idea that every company is a media company. In the future, every company is a media company, and a lot of companies don’t know that yet. And I would say that Glitch knows that.
It’s a difficult reality for any company that doesn’t consider itself a media company to come to terms with culturally. There are cultural distinctions between how a media company runs, and should run for the best production value, and how any other industry would run content marketing. And so my job has changed dramatically because I work in the cultural war zone that is editorial, content marketing, and brand marketing, which every company struggles with.
That’s one of the things that we’ve explored: how do you convince a company that they need to invest in content, instead of just expecting instant results? As you said, every company is a media company, and the sooner they realize that, the better.
My early career, before I got into journalism, I was in public affairs, which is a DC way of saying marketing for lobbyists. So lobbyists understand that every politician is a media company. Lobbyists understand that every lobby is in the media company. They’re way ahead. I feel like it’s the industries that don’t have to tell their own stories all the time, and tell them accurately and be accountable to public-facing communities, that are behind the times.
Of course, that includes a lot of tech companies that are B2B. I would say Glitch is not a B2B company. Primarily it’s B2C, and then most of our partnerships are B2C or C2C. So there is that inherent obligation, and I would point to other B2C and C2C companies that have that community and social component, like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, local networks. We’re much closer to that.
In a learning curve of “every company is a media company,” I would say that political campaigns are media companies. That’s where I broke into all of this, and I just wanted to tell more accurate stories. So I went into journalism to tell fact-based stories. That was what I wanted, to tell better stories.
Now I think the question for every company becomes, are you willing to tell the right story? You can have a great PR campaign that has no connection to truth, if you want to. But in my mind, the more consumers have concerns with trust levels with public institutions, and are asking for more accountability in the content they see and the content creation, all these trendlines lead to telling accurate stories. That’s where editorial, as a former journalist, comes into play.
How was the launch of Glimmer?
You know, we learned a lot. What do people say when everything is a challenge? We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and what we need to do to make things better.
In terms of who would be informed by this knowledge, and what would be helpful for them, I would say the launch taught us a lot about the differences between expectations in a media company to launch a media product, and expectations in a non-media company to launch a media product.
If you’re in a company, and you’re launching a product that is not that company’s core product, it will be more difficult to launch that product, no matter where you are. If you’re in a banana stand and you’re selling apples, it’s going to be more difficult to sell the apples. So we learned a lot about our ability to internally communicate priorities and dependencies for a secondary or non-priority product.
It feels hard to ask about the success of it when it’s so early. Are you finding that you’re getting much direct audience response to Glimmer yet?
Yeah, the strategy for the first six months, since we don’t do any paid [ads], was to hit home really deeply with the people who were the intended audience for the specific pieces we run. So once something is your jam, it really is your jam.
Our leading metric is time on page. As a former journalist, time on page has always meant a lot to me. I don’t like seeing 30 seconds, I want to see two minutes. And my hope is to get over that two minutes to three minutes. But right now, I’m happy to say we’re hanging out between 1.5 to two minutes.
The feedback has been amazing. Within the community we cover, it’s really well-received. And that’s the goal. The hope is that in six months, or maybe in three months, we’ll be able to tell even bigger stories that reach more people.
How are you communicating that success to the rest of the company? Especially as you’re figuring out what content means for Glitch.
So years ago, in 2014, my bread and butter was running social media teams for newsrooms. I came up with something I called the Love Metric. I can’t even say it with a straight face now.
The Love Metric is when someone you didn’t pay says on social media or email, in unprompted, unsolicited feedback, “I love this.” Or “I really like this.” Something that shows love. When you have somebody who is a thought leader sharing your article, saying, “This is really important to me and my work.” That, to me, is the love. And so I collect things for the Love Metric. We collect social posts, emails, feedback we get from people who are in the communities that we’re trying to reach, and we share that in Slack, mostly.
There was one BuzzFeed News editor, who very kindly tweeted a story when we first launched. It’s on why non-binary tech workers remain skeptical of gender-neutral pronouns. The editor tweeted this story link and said, “This is how tech should be covered.” Of course, I dropped that tweet in Slack.
And that happens every day. So that is how I communicate. By using the voices that other people use to give us feedback, so that people internally see what we’re getting good feedback with.