WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Industry experts discussed and debated LGBTQ branding, building industry partnerships and common mistakes made by newly launched cam white label sites during the first day of panels specifically addressing the needs of the all-male adult entertainment industry at the 2018 XBIZ Show, sponsored by ManyVids, held this week at the Andaz hotel in West Hollywood.
Presented by ZbucksZ and led by Danny Zeeman of WebMediaProz, the panelists included trans performer-moguls Buck Angel and Venux Lux, Frank Gannon (Epoch), Chris Koloff (Alternadudes and PeterFever) and Morgan Sommer (Cybersocket). The increasing importance of social media platforms, notably Twitter, as a branding tool, was a hot topic of discussion.
“Any little thing that happens,” Koloff said, “we post it. We were in the car on the way over and I posted something about the Cybersocket Awards last night. (A colleague) said, ‘Oh, I’m going to retweet it.’ Before he could even retweet it, someone had ‘liked’ it and retweeted it, too,” he laughed. “Within 10 seconds!”
While Angel enjoys Instagram as an outlet for his activism, Lux described a perceived bias against trans models that display the same sorts of photos as cisgender models.
Nevertheless, “social media actually helped me build my brand,” Angel said. “Like Venus, I connect with my friends – they’re not my customers, they’re my friends. Every single person on my social media isn’t my fan, they’re my friend. That’s how I do my work. It’s about us, it’s not about me.”
Tumblr and other sites are also part of Cybersocket’s social media branding.
“It’s really easy stuff to do; Instagram really works for us as well,” Sommer said. “It’s really easy as long as you are willing to stay (within) the guidelines.” However, he warned that Cybersocket has had Facebook accounts closed with no warning or explanation, “even though we know the rules. I get offers every day to (pay to) boost a post that is successful. But I know as soon as I push that button, it will trigger a review.”
Epoch’s Gannon offered advice on how to manage the onslaught of easily available, free porn on the internet.
“If you’re competing with free porn, don’t replicate that experience,” he said. “You have to do something that’s not available in these oceans of free porn out there. Which sometimes (means) organizing content in a way that people want to view it.”
Zeeman agreed, emphasizing content that is “unique and different” and unavailable on tube sites and elsewhere.
Sommer spoke about several disastrous partnerships that weren’t quite within Cybersocket’s wheelhouse, as they built their brand, even though partnerships appeared to offer a potentially broader reach.
“We’ve learned to let go of things that we were only doing for the money,” he said. “All these years later, I’m focused on the things that we enjoy doing, that we have the resources to (sustain) and that I’m interested in doing.”
NakedSword Presents: Building Relationships & Partnerships That Build Your Business
The midafternoon panel was led by Toby J. Morris, vice president of marketing for Falcon Studios Group and the NakedSword VOD network, and included publicist Davyd Dixon, whose Davyd Dixon Entertainment represents A-list all-male brands BelAmi and CockyBoys as well as NakedSword. Morris referenced comments about “abundance” from mogul and activist Buck Angel in an earlier panel.
“One of our guiding principles is to create abundance working with other companies in the industry,” he said, describing Falcon’s storied 47-year career. “We are one of the top producers of quality content in the industry. But to sustain a business this long in the industry, we had to find other ways to make money,” particularly after porn became “wildly free” on the internet following the Great Recession of 2008.
He stressed researching and seeking out partnerships, including at industry conferences like the XBIZ Show, with companies that can help business owners navigate waters that are unfamiliar or beyond their current capabilities. Falcon, for example, licenses their extensive catalog.
“But even a (smaller) player can license their content,” he said, adding that partnerships with bloggers help sustain and promote their affiliate program. “We’re dealing with a lot of different partners. We’re also a media and marketing company. We’ve taken our audience and partnered with other companies to reach out to our audience (through) our blogs, email newsletters, direct email, an entire wholesale and retail operation. We also work with another company and manage their email list. We’ve worked out a partnership to do that, too.”
When exploring partnerships, “Think of all the things you have available to you, the things that you do,” Morris advised. “You have content and product. You’re managing an audience. You can harness their power. Always be thinking of the big picture, but look at the small things you do well. There’s people out there you can partner with on those things you do well.”
Flirt4Free: Five Biggest Gay Cam Mistakes
Led by Jeff Wilson, Flirt4Free’s director of business development, the late afternoon panel included Flirt4Free rep Melissa, Lucas Kazan and Davyd Dixon of BelAmi and Danny Zeeman of WebMediaProz and PeterFever.
Wilson said newcomers would approach Flirt4Free to set up a white label site “and buy some traffic to it and forget about it. They forget to build a brand.”
He cited the success of BelAmi Chat and its regularly updated social media accounts, including Twitter, that “focus on live elements and personality-driven” content. Each BelAmi Chat model has his own Twitter following.
“All of those guys are talking about BelAmi Chat,” Wilson observed. “None of them talk about Flirt4Free; instead, they talk about their white label.” Added Zeeman, “It’s using the model as the (messenger) to drive traffic.”
“You really have to make the white label special,” Dixon said. “Make it your own. Even if it’s just the way you sort the guys on the (front) page. There should be something different about it.”
Dixon emphasized the importance of having “a team” whose sole focus is on managing models and their chat schedules and site infrastructure. “BelAmi Chat is now a six-figure-a-month operation. But we can do that; not everyone will have that.”
Flirt4Free’s Melissa agreed that a successful white label requires regular maintenance.
“It definitely takes resources," she said. "But it doesn’t have to be a whole separate company. It can be just somebody having it as part of their daily or weekly responsibilities to communicate with the models and having a plan for them.” She cited “lack of follow-through” as a primary reason why white labels often die on the vine.
Wilson and the panelists also spoke to the importance of sticking to a regular cam schedule and including webcam time in the contract of newly signed exclusive performers (“It has to be part of the package,” Zeeman stressed) as well as “tying in” affiliates to the white label.
Additionally, Wilson urged company owners to log into cam sites and try out the experience from the perspective of a customer. The camming experience can be much more personalized beyond a sexual interaction.
“Don’t be shy!” he said.