We all know that feeling — you’ve got a new favorite show and all you want to do is talk to someone who loves it as much as you do about all your theories and thoughts. You read everything you can get your hands on and troll Twitter looking for other enthusiasts. Now, Stardust makes it easy for you to find like-minded individuals who just want to talk about your favorite show with you. This new platform is aimed largely at GenZ and Millennials, comes with all the engagement and retention challenges that come with this tricky, socially savvy generation.

Ashley Fauset, Chief Operating Officer at Stardust, leads the company’s global marketing efforts aimed at tech-savvy millennial and GenZ audiences. And she recently stopped by our special Reimagine Growth series, to share her extensive digital experience which spans multiple disciplines in industries that include rideshare, social media platforms, e-commerce, immersive AR and VR, and more.

The stickiness of community

If social media has taught us anything it’s that community inherently leads to engagement. “Stardust is the place to connect with movie and TV fans around the world via a globally available app,” says Ashley. Founded by a CEO who happens to be a huge “Games of Thrones” fan who liked sharing fan theories and predictions with fellow fans. “He saw a real lack in the marketplace for platforms that really catered to that kind of discussion and, you know, a lot of the social platforms that are available right now are fairly generalized, although there are Facebook groups and you can now fall down a rabbit hole on Reddit. None really catered to the kind of discussion and community building that he was really looking for so that’s where Stardust was born.”

The app goes beyond being just “a place to add your favorite movies and shows to your list and give ratings,” Ashley says. With a focus on community building and discussion, Stardust is “primarily a video reaction platform where you can come on and leave a 30-second reaction to the episode you watched last night of ‘Love Craft Country’ or this week’s premiere for Season 2 of ‘Mandalorian’ and see what other people thought, share your ideas, see what other people are watching and sort of really just find a community that’s interested in the same things that you are.”

Engaging a discerning demographic

Social may be sticky, but GenZ has grown up with devices and platforms, making them a savvy demographic who are sometimes resistant to the same old messaging. This means Ashley and the Stardust marketing team have to take their peculiar demands into account. “They’re on their screens, you know, hours out of the day and so how do we make sure that we are sending a message at the right time for them so we don’t get ignored or they don’t turn our notifications off?” says Ashley.

Younger consumers demand authenticity and to have content delivered to them on their own terms. “So, one thing that we do, you know, and what’s great about our platform and our brand is that we’re a pretty friendly conversational… kind of app and so our brand messaging allows for us to be pretty playful and cheeky at times with our messaging. And I think that helps resonate with GenZs. So, we can keep it conversational, we keep it like it’s a friend talking to a friend, you know, ‘OMG, Matt, you have to see this movie.’”

Much of Stardust’s messaging revolves around driving awareness and traffic to its editorial content, which can range from casting news to the death of a beloved movie star. With that in mind, it’s important for the messaging to match the tone of the story. “When something a little more serious or something with more gravitas comes through, then we take that seriously and we pass that along to our users which I think helps build trust, right,” says Ashley. “And I think we do that in our personal relationships as well. We are fun and casual with our friends and our family but when something takes a bit more of a serious tone, then we rise to the occasion and we treat it that way.”

Following the engagement data

Getting the messaging right means understanding what your data is telling you. When you’re selling something like an e-commerce app it’s easy — or at least easier — to know which data is important. You track browsing behavior, abandoned carts, and purchases. But when it comes to a socially-driven app where time in-app is often the goal, the data points you need to track are less obvious.

The Stardust team breaks its engagement data down into two buckets. “There are things that the users do on their own that don’t require any sort of social engagement between users on the platform,” says Ashley. Things like rating a movie, adding things to their list, taking a poll, and reading an article fall into this category.

“Then there’s a whole plethora of other activities that they can engage with other users,” says Ashley. “You sort of build on those core things — users can see when their friends have rated something and they can comment; users can see if you commented on an article about something that interests them and conversation happens there. Users can post their own polls, ask the community what they thought about a particular movie or who was the better Joker or anything under the sun, conversation happens from there.”

Stardust sees that its most active, core users tend to use the reaction feature to communicate. For instance, someone might tag “@peggy923 and say I just watched this last night, I think you might like it, tell me what you think.” Watching this kind of behavior has taught the team something valuable about how users want to engage with the platform and each other. “So it’s been really interesting to see, sort of, how they’ve not hacked the platform but really started using it to meet their own needs.”

To learn more about how Stardust uses this data to perfect it’s messaging and platform, tune in to the entire interview.