My experience at Firebrand Group is always about futureproofing other brands by better anticipating the marketing world of tomorrow, but my forecasts are never going to be accurate enough if I don’t speak to the best marketers of today.

So as part of my research on the year ahead, we produced 20.17 Big Ideas for 2017, talking to successful marketers from powerful brands to recommend one “Big Idea” that companies can take advantage of to get ahead in 2017 (you can download the entire ebook here).

One of the individuals I was fortunate enough to interview for this series was Lucie Fink, acclaimed video producer/lifestyle host at Refinery29, whose big priority is to continually listen to her audience. Read our Q&A session and you might learn from Refinery29’s example:

What is your method of engagement with your audience?

I engage with my audience by reading their comments, replying to them, and taking their suggestions to heart by taking on a 5-day challenge that they’ve asked for.

Being a part of Refinery29, is it safe to assume your audience is privy to digital trends? How do you implement their interest into content?

Many of our readers / viewers are quite privy to digital trends, as are the producers and content creators on R29’s end. Because of that, we experiment with new digital platforms and formats based on our audience’s interest, but also our own curiosities as well. If there’s something we’ve overlooked, however, our audience will let us know (whether it’s through comments, email, etc.), and our team will work to feed their appetite.

How do you separate honest audience feedback from trolling? Is a negative critique always negative?

Being on the direct receiving end of the audience’s feedback, I need to actively set aside my emotions when reading comments. Negative critique — while it can feel painful initially — is not always negative. Sometimes, the feedback that you don’t necessary want to hear winds up making the content stronger next time. It’s easier than you’d think to separate feedback from trolling. I often deal with trolls by replying back to them sending positive vibes and thanking them for watching my video. They often get so freaked out that ‘the girl from the video’ saw what they wrote and replied back that they delete their comment.

Audiences are known to spot inauthenticity. How does Refinery29 keep their relationship with a captive audience sincere?

Refinery29 has fine-tuned our editorial perspective, making our content informative, playful and inclusive all at once. We’ve developed a very trusting relationship with our audience and, with that in mind, we’re cautious about what we share. We wouldn’t agree to create or share something unless we feel it’s on brand with Refinery29 and complements our cohesive brand message. Additionally, with everything we create, we strive to enrich our audience’s life in some way – whether it’s by helping her feel inspired, in the know, entertained or empowered.

What can you learn from Lucie & Refinery29’s approach towards brand responsiveness? And what other brands do you feel are doing a good job in that regard? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of