In the comments and chats on Russell Wilson’s superfan app TraceMe, whatever is happening or has happened on the football field for the Seattle Seahawks quarterback sometimes takes a back seat to more pressing concerns: When do we get to see pictures of Sienna?
Sienna Princess Wilson, the daughter of the NFL star and his entertainer wife Ciara, might be the best-kept secret in the world of celebrity baby reveals. Until today.
Nearly nine months after her daughter was born, Ciara is joining Wilson on TraceMe, as the second high-profile personality in the Seattle-based startup’s stable, which promises exclusive and behind-the-scenes daily content to fans longing for more access than traditional social media platforms might provide. Ciara’s channel launched with insights into her world of music, dance, fashion, beauty and family — including a video and images (shot by Wilson) showing off the couple’s little girl to a worldwide audience for the first time.
It’s all very traditional, in a People magazine sense, when it comes to learning more about the private lives of celebrities. But thanks to the passion and energy of Wilson, who serves as TraceMe’s chairman, and the team that has been built at the growing company, the tools and technology used to tell stories give everything a very modern spin.
Six months after TraceMe launched with $9 million in funding from a who’s-who list of backers, the company continues to hire — growing from 15 employees at the start to 24 now — and has moved into new offices in the Dexter Horton Building in downtown Seattle. There is also a new office in Los Angeles with VPs of content and business development — and a strong push to attract future TraceMe stars.
Joe Braidwood, vice president of marketing, told GeekWire that Wilson was the perfect in-app pioneer and test case during Seahawks games and into the off season.
“That’s kind of been phase one for us, really validating for us to what extent his fans respond to various pieces of content, what they love and what we can work on, what we can evolve,” Braidwood said. “And that’s been a great learning curve for us. Now we’re really ready for phase two, which is introducing our second celebrity and going bigger in many respects.”
As a music and fashion icon with a broad following in the U.S. and overseas, Ciara is no stranger to sharing her life with millions of fans — 17.6 million on Instagram, 10.5 million on Twitter, 13 million on Facebook. While TraceMe isn’t sharing numbers on app downloads or engagement it has achieved so far with just Wilson, the company is confident that Ciara — who married the football star in July 2016 — will attract a robust new audience.
“There’s a large base of people who love Ciara who aren’t necessarily Seahawks fans, who aren’t necessarily into football and it’s going to be great to see them coming into the product,” Braidwood said.
But Wilson’s use of the app has taught the TraceMe team plenty when it comes to what to expect from fans in regard to building a community. Prior to last week, engagement took place in the comments attached to specific pieces of content involving Wilson. Now users can start their own conversations and interact with other fans and discuss various topics. A feature has also been added to the UX that makes it very clear when a celeb gets involved in the conversation.
For his part, Wilson isn’t just the focus of the fandom, he’s in there mixing it up with his followers. TraceMe tracks users to see who is most active, and Wilson is always in the top three or five for comments.
“It’s one of the real, unique perspectives on what we’re actually building, this idea that you can literally be in a group conversation with someone that you’re obsessed with and that you’re inspired by,” Braidwood said. “The reaction from the fans to that has really been quite overwhelming.”
TraceMe’s Laura Cassidy serves as the content director for Ciara, and has been working with her since July in crafting her branding and what her world will look like in the app. They’ve been focused on stories that involve not only her, but her network — the characters she surrounds herself with and the experts that she’ll share with her fans.
They also consider Ciara’s personal and professional calendar and what’s going on in her life and how and when to share those moments with fans.
“She is a busy lady and she does a lot of different stuff in the entertainment realm, but she’s also a really dedicated mom,” Cassidy said. “It’s a big part of her life and her fans have never really seen the granular aspects of that before. They’ve also never seen her daughter. It’s really fun to see her explore and embrace that side of herself and share that with her fans. There are a lot of people who feel like they’ve grown up with Ciara, and we know that a lot of her fans are mothers, so it’s going to be so rewarding to see people actually get that full, 360 view on who she is as a woman.”
Cassidy calls the job of managing content around a celebrity such as Ciara a natural progression of the type of lifestyle and fashion journalism she has always done in previous jobs as a writer/editor at Seattle Weekly, Seattle Met magazine and on a digital team in Nordstrom’s creative projects division.
She said she still thinks like a magazine editor, cutting up information and presenting it in new and interesting ways.
“I’m very much a storyteller, so I think about characters and narratives,” Cassidy said. “What’s been really cool for me is learning how to do that in the framework of an app.”
— Ciara (@ciara) February 15, 2018
Recurring series — some more immersive and meaty than others — will help to fill out a channel populated by various types of media — straightforward text, slideshows, and lots and lots of video.
“I think of people pulling out their phones when they’re waiting in line for a coffee and I think about people getting in bed at night and flipping though and looking for kind of a bedtime story to really sink into,” Cassidy said. “If I have a story idea, the frame that I run it through to test myself about whether or not it’s really solid is you have to learn something new about Ciara, you have to learn something new that you can use in your own life, and you have to feel like you couldn’t have gotten it anywhere else.”
Beyond beauty tips and fashion insight, Cassidy was particularly impressed and amused by a DIY mom series in which Ciara and her friends make projects at the kitchen table.
“It’s just not what people are expecting. It’s going to be really fun.”
As for Sienna, the little girl who now gets to join big brother Future in the spotlight, Cassidy said fans have been going “berserk” waiting for a better look. On Instagram, for instance, both parents have played it coy for months.
That all changed on TraceMe Thursday morning.
“This is a special case,” Cassidy said. “Oftentimes high-profile babies get revealed when they’re maybe a week old or something, and Sienna is almost a year old. Russell and Ciara are very family centric and thoughtful. They want to share their family with their fans in a really, really special way.”
Based on his ongoing use of the app he dreamed up, from a company he helped build in Seattle, Russell Wilson is sure to be a proud husband and dad in the comments on his wife’s new channel.
TraceMe is available on iOS right now, and will launch on Android in March.