IMVU:
 DESIGNING A STRATEGY

OVERVIEW

IMVU is a 3d avatar-based social platform with 7 million monthly active users from around the world. In 2018, the marketing team launched new initiatives to increase community outreach via original programming on social video platforms like YouTube and Twitch. The audience growth proved slow. In 2019, passionate about video content and its possibilities for our team, I pitched and developed SEO and design strategies to help strengthen and support our team’s efforts.

Because this was a new program, there were no established design standards. Our team had limited support and bandwidth and mostly ran by a whatever stuck to the wall strategy. I had limited bandwidth as well, but believing in the potential of the program, I took the initiative to lead the charge to elevate the brand, increase outreach, raise our design quality, and help streamline production.

Timeline

Mid-2019

3 Month Project

Contribution

UX Research
Service Design
Data Analysis
Style Guide Creation
SEO Strategy

Challenges

No Budget
Limited Data
Limited Design Support

Team

Solo Project
Marketing Team (for feedback)

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MAKING A CASE

I am a believer in the “Medium is the message” - to enhance the potency of our outreach, I began by searching academic resources on how YouTube’s algorithm worked. In these findings, click-through rates (CTR), watch times, and content associated with other content were key to channel growth. The team had yet to be aware of these correlations.

As I delved deeper, I also analyzed thumbnail designs, titles, copy, and metadata of successful content creators’ uploads to the platform. This comparative study outlined the trends our content was not leveraging. With these findings, our team had a whiteboarding session to track and categorize our video programs, and I was able to convince stakeholders of the need to develop a new approach.

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BRAND WITHIN REACH

YouTube’s audience came to the platform primarily for entertainment, information, or inspiration. We mapped our content to these motivations to help our videos be successful within the platform’s culture. This built a clear user path to IMVU’s channel, but without consistent and recognizable branding, it was hard to recognize IMVU’s content from other videos in the feed.

Based on the data we collected, I built thumbnail style guides for each program category to distinguish our channel's brand.  Our design team did not have enough time to support all of the Youtube content coming out. The clear next step was streamlining the process by creating thumbnail templates to simplify and scale the task for our video creation team.

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ADOPTION

I created documentation outlining how to optimize copy, titles, and video tags to maximize YouTube’s algorithm for our content. Because a lot of these methods involved learning a new process, some of the team members were reluctant to adapt to a new flow and had a steeper learning curve. To help with this, and to provide more context and education for these platforms, I led learning sessions to go through the process and the reasoning. I put together simplified tasks lists to follow and charts to give an overview of the work chain. The focus on reduced production times with replicable and maximized results helps get the team to buy in.

REFLECTION & IMPACT

After these new strategies and guidelines were implemented, IMVU’s YouTube presence drastically improved. This resulted in our team reaching our growth goals two weeks earlier than expected, and our subscriptions and engagement increased by over 100%. IMVU’s official content also appeared on the first page of YouTube’s search results, rather than on the 6th page as it had previously.

Systematically focused design was the key for this project. By using a data-driven approach and addressing team members’ needs, we were able to repair pain points that we were previously unaware of. While there was friction along the way, we were able to evolve and form a long-term, sustainable strategy that allowed us to better reach and grow our community.