How can you make tough subjects go big on social media? We talk to the Mighty about how its humanized content has empowered a community of 1 million social users.
Social media continues to break down walls around what were once “taboo” subjects. Mental illness, chronic illness, and disability continue to carry some stigma.
The Mighty is changing that. The story-driven community changes things up by avoiding the clinical approach of other health-focused publishers. Instead, the Mighty’s personal approach has created a thriving following of more than 1 million members.
With more than 10,000 voluntary contributors, there’s an endless source of content, which gets viewed and shared more than 90 million times a month. The site also has seen $8.2 million in new financing in 2017.
We talk to Michael Mezzatesta, Chief of Staff at the Mighty, about its ultra-niche, empowering approach and why social communities are at the heart of its strategy.
Can you tell us about a day in the life at the Mighty?
We were created to empower people who live with health challenges, and everyone here is very passionate about that mission. If you were to walk into the office, you’d really feel how much we think about and care about the community we serve. We have a bunch of reminders in the office — the biggest one being the corkboard in the kitchen where we gather for lunch.
What’s your process like for content creation?
We create content for people living with health conditions, so we come at everything from the angle of what that community — the Mighty community — really cares about.
That content comes in many forms. First of all, we have an awesome network of over 10,000 contributors who tell their stories on The Mighty, and an in-house team that edits those stories. Most of our editors live with health conditions as well, and that’s important for the authenticity of our content. They are part of the community.
In addition to our contributed stories, we produce a ton of original content. We have a video production team that creates original videos; we write op-eds about current events; and we cover news issues that the Mighty community cares about. Across all these types of content, we try our best to approach issues from the perspective of how they impact individuals living with health issues and disabilities.
Most recently, brands and nonprofits have begun to publish content on The Mighty as well. We’re bringing them onto our platform as a way to reach our audience and to get more resources in front of the Mighty community.
How do you use data to measure your impact?
We leverage data to inform our content strategy. We know that most people find us through social media — maybe they see a Mighty video in their feed, or maybe a friend shares a Mighty article with them.
Analyzing the reach of each story on social media, and how many people engage with it, allows us to understand the topics and issues our community members want to hear about. Then, make more content around those issues. And more importantly, we try to serve as a platform for our writers to tell their own individual perspectives on those issues.
As The Mighty has grown, we’ve begun to measure our impact in other ways. Our goal is to create a community that actually helps people, and we believe that The Mighty is most helpful when there are more people connecting with and sharing their stories. So we measure success by the number of people who sign up on The Mighty, and how much time they spend with us.
You mentioned that social media is a core part of your strategy. How do you use NewsWhip Spike to help?
We understand that writing content about topics that are trending in the news is a great way to engage our community members. And Spike allows us to understand, in real-time, what folks in our community are talking about. By helping us stay ahead of the latest trends, Spike has become an important part of our daily operation.
The Mighty is all about community. Do you engage with your audience, and if so, how?
We view every piece of content as an opportunity to start a conversation with our community. Every day, we are engaging with our audience by starting and hosting those conversations.
In some areas, we’re more focused on providing ways for our members to engage with each other — whether or not a Mighty staff member is involved. So right now, we’re building out a lot of new technology to allow our community to do just that. It will be an exciting year on that front.
With so many different audiences, do you modify your strategy for each of them?
Absolutely. We develop a strategy for each community. Even though we want everyone to feel comfortable on The Mighty, we understand that people with different health issues care about different things. For example, someone living with bipolar disorder might come to The Mighty with a different goal than someone whose child was recently diagnosed with cancer. Over the years, many of these subcommunities have naturally formed on The Mighty.
So we responded by building an editorial strategy for each subcommunity. We have a mental health team that only works on mental health. Another team for cancer, another for rare diseases, etc. And on social media, we have different accounts for each community. Most recently, we’ve built email lists around specific communities. Just recently, we reached 2 million email subscriptions — so some of these communities are big.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve encountered?
One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is finding ways to keep up with Mighty writers as the contributor community continues to grow. Ever since we started accepting stories for publication, the response has been pretty amazing. At this point, we’ve published stories by over 10,000 members. The challenge has been publishing stories quickly enough to keep up with the incoming submissions.
We’ll soon be opening up the platform so that in addition to our edited longer form stories Mighty members will be able to share their experiences through shorter posts, photos, and videos.
Any tips or tricks for other publishers out there?
Produce content that actually provides real value to your audience. Remember that the numbers you’re tracking are actually real people. If you want to succeed in the long run, you need to do more than just growth hacking.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of being part of a company that really prioritizes making a positive social impact. When we do receive letters from the community about how we’ve helped them, it’s a great reminder that we’re part of something much bigger — that we are truly empowering and connecting millions of people. It’s exciting to be a part of that.
Thanks, Michael! For a look into what stories resonate across any niche, take a look into NewsWhip Spike, our real-time social database.