Videos, Social and App Store Images // IMVU
IMVU SOCIAL MEDIA “WEEKEND OUTFIT CHALLENGES”
Though it has its own on-product photo feed, IMVU’s presence and following on Instagram is massive. Nearly every week we’d host “weekend outfit challenges” where users would attire and style their avatars to the theme. Each challenge had tens of thousands of entries, the best of which won prizes (and proved rather effective UGC for growth.)
These ‘seed’ images announching the challenges showcase IMVU at its 3D finest and most diverse. I designed and directed these to be well-shopped from the vast catalog rather than overly photoshopped; entries had to be raw captures from the product.
imvu videography & machinima
IMVU’s growth team was always hungry for more videos, which performed exceptionally well for user acquisition, retargeting, and retainment campaigns. I had to carefully balance quality vs. speed in their creation. There were significant limitations for movement, camera angles, and expression on the platform, so it was complex to achieve the sorts of shots that made the product look compelling — but I pushed for a more cinematic look and the highest quality 3D look we could manage. Meanwhile, I was tasked with getting two or sometimes three a month. I was able to apply data-driven learnings and test theories on what would perform best.
App store IMAGES & VIDEO
IMVU’s screenshots on the App Store and Google Play store were sorely in need of updating. They were dark and muddy, the 3D avatars shown were far from the best that the platform could do, and they made the app look like it was mostly about narcissistic fashion. Before I joined, the design team had already put together a round that, despite being more aesthetic, did not win in A/B testing. Then one of the designers on my team was tasked to remake them in her style, which also failed to improve “cost per paying customer” rate.
With a postmortem/autopsy on what seemed to be the issues—including too much retouching—I worked with another designer on a different design strategy. The resulting brightly-colored round, which used the “continuous image” panorama trick and in many ways displayed greater diversity, significantly outperformed the old versions.
With the cast we’d built, we made an associated video that brought the app’s features to life. It employed some tricks from real-world cinematography that really gave a sense of space and pulled the action through.
FINDING LOVE ON IMVU
People find romantic partners every day on IMVU. I wrote, storyboarded, and cast the avatars for a meet-cute romance story that also shows off the platform’s 3D chat and dress-up features. This video quickly became highly successful for user acquisition and is the most-viewed video IMVU has ever made, with over a million views.
THE IMVU METAVERSE
The growth team was interested in winning keywords around ‘multiverse’ and ‘metaverse,’ and I was happy to write/cast/direct a story that showed off IMVU’s infinite variety, from exotic travel to fantasy and science-fictional worlds.
IMVU during quarantine
In the early days of quarantine, I wrote a video aimed to show how IMVU could be a fun, social diversion in a virtual space. This involved finding affordable stock videos to humanize the friends and creating avatars that matched. It was also fun to reference the trend popular among long-term users of showing pictures of their avatars from years back and the #Glowup to current versions.
Black community on IMVU
One heartening truth about IMVU is that many who feel marginalized or not-seen in real life find a mutually supportive community on the platform. I wanted to showcase and celebrate the Black community who I saw supporting one another every day on Instagram and the product’s feed. I liked being able to cast a video that represented that the Black community (on IMVU and in the real world) is not a monolith: glamorous, tattooed urban and Afrofuturist self-presentations are all celebrated here.
I worked with some of the community members to assemble the resources on the brand’s Black Lives Matter page and commissioned artwork and wrote its Juneteenth page. I also co-led the partnership with the NAACP for our Vote Campaign (more on that on the IMVU Cause Marketing page)
IMVU Creator program
The IMVU Creator Program allows its users to mesh or texture 3D virtual items and sell them, not just platform Credits but real money. For this long-form introduction to join the program, I used three “social proof” mini-interviews with successful creators, interspersed into a three-part exciting pitch with extended visual metaphor.
I wrote the script and storyboard and worked with seven Creators to make the creator avatars. This creator involvement and showcasing of creator stylistic diversity was essential to me, as was including a credits sequence (start at 2:54), which I shot and edited myself. I also sourced and worked closely with the voice talent to get the tone just right.
Showcasing Dynamic Lighting
Lighting in IMVU makes a considerable difference in terms of how realistic its 3D rendering looks. In November 2020, IMVU launched an open beta of a tool that enabled creators to add normal and shininess maps.
While the ‘shiny’ clothes and 3D objects made with this new tool were spectacular, there was very low awareness of the tool, and the items were nearly impossible to find in the catalog. I worked with the Creator community lead to throw a contest, and shot a number of product demo social posts to bring awareness to the feature and contest entries.
EXPLORATIONS AND ARTWORKS
I spent some spare time exploring IMVU’s vast catalog for the unusual and honing my skills at assembling a look, posing and lighting a shot. I sought to make images that provoked mystery and emotion. While largely for fun, I did find a lot of useful things in these explorations. Also, some of these less-usual shots beat out UGC in ads targeted to onboard talented creators.
IMVU PRODUCERS & VCOIN
Creators of virtual goods on IMVU is its own economy, paying out not just in-game products but real money to hundreds of thousands of users. But other users perform services: throwing parties, making image edits, officiating virtual weddings, making custom items, and so forth.
As IMVU prepared to roll out VCOIN, its own SEC-approved cryptocurrency, it wanted to bring attention to all sorts of IMVU service providers that might be able to make real money using it. One designer and I worked in tandem to make the suite of Producer images for the Vcoin website, and the cast we made for them we reprised in the corresponding video.
2020 on IMVU
The pandemic that made everyone’s 2020 challenging. From the resulting uptick in IMVU’s use and users, to our stepping into the Cause Marketing / Giving campaign space—a charge I pitched and co-led with the other Marketing Director, see Cause Marketing project page for more on these campaigns—it was quite a big year for IMVU. This year-end video aimed at pulling heartstrings and celebrating the good we saw on the platform.