Insight on Hearst’s social-only brand

Sweet, Hearst’s social-only publication created in partnership with Snapchat, launched to lots of hype in November 2015. Less than a year and a half later, the new brand offers lesson of the tricky route to starting new media brands on platforms.

Sweet has experienced a series of layoffs, including the quiet firing of editor-in-chief Luke Crisell in July, and rapid staff turnover. What began as an ambitious attempt to create a daily culture magazine for digital — filled with one-off artist features, author interviews and more — has instead slid into the territory of generic viral content like “There’s More to These 6 Candles Than Meets the Eye.”

Four former Sweet employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, paint the publication as an ambitious experiment hamstrung by shifting priorities.

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