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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards


Finalist in Instagram Presence


Complex Networks champions the people, brands and new trends you need to know now (and will obsess over next), and builds consumer universes around them. It is what a modern entertainment company looks like and what others have followed since 2002. 

As a brand born out of young people’s search for identity through pop culture genres—music, sneakers, film and television, sports, fashion, and food—Complex’s objective on social media is to be at the forefront of what’s next in culture, lead the conversations surrounding it, and drive its audience’s passions within it.

The overall goal of Complex’s Instagram is to be a one-stop shop for everything fans need to stay abreast of what’s happening in culture, in real time. Several events in 2020 challenged Complex to pivot its social strategy and strengthen its role as an agent of change, including the pandemic, increased activism and social movements, and a pivotal election season. Complex’s goal then shifted to using its influential platform to serve as a go-to destination for the times, through elevating important issues, sharing facts and information, and championing the voices fueling our culture.

To achieve this, Complex thoughtfully diversified the content posted across its social platforms. This included creating social cuts of long-form video, developing infographics of easily digestible content and resources, sharing feel-good videos, and updating its audience with breaking news that was timely and straight to the point.

Strategy and Execution

In 2020, Complex evolved into a social newsroom like never before, all while maintaining an authentic voice and delivering quality content to its audience in a relatable way.

Complex pivoted its video programming strategy in the early days of the pandemic and developed a slate of remote social series. Complex launched its first-ever Instagram Live series, “House Calls,” which featured health and wellness experts sharing facts, accessible resources and tips for navigating the pandemic. Complex also debuted two IGTV series that gave viewers an inside look at how their favorite celebrities and personalities spent their time in quarantine.

In the midst of heaviness and uncertainty in the world, Complex highlighted heartwarming and feel-good content to permeate its audience’s feeds. Through its extended reach and network, Complex connected long-lost friends, opened doors and visibility for talented, everyday people, and provided a respite online during unprecedented times.

Complex Networks introduced a company-wide youth voting platform, “Pull Up and Vote,” to educate and motivate millennial, Gen Z and BIPOC audiences to vote in the most consequential presidential election of their lifetimes. Driven by Complex’s social team, the brand dedicated a large section of its social feeds to educating voters of their rights, informing them of important dates and deadlines, shedding light on key issues from a non-partisan perspective, and emphasizing the gravity of showing up (“pulling up”) to the polls.

Maintaining the momentum through early November, covering the highs and lows of the election and its results, Complex shared its best-performing post of all time—a custom graphic declaring President Joe Biden’s historic win—which garnered an astounding interaction rate of 22.35%. Shortly after, Complex shared an interview on IGTV with President Barack Obama, just one of many wins for the company in 2020. 

While this robust strategy allowed Complex to lean into its position as a leader in the media landscape, it was important for the brand to maintain its commitment to keeping its audience up to date on the newest sneaker drops, elevating new artists and music, igniting Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James debates, and continuing to do it for the culture.


Complex’s trust and commitment to its goals led the brand to a record-breaking year on Instagram, resulting in the most engaged months and posts it’s ever seen. By implementing a new and diversified strategy, catered to its audience’s needs, Complex grew its Instagram following by 43% in 2020, acquiring 2.15 million new followers throughout the year. As a result:

Most importantly, Complex used its one-stop shop platform, along with its loyal and highly-engaged social community, to create and invoke sustainable change that transcends even the most impressive of metrics.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Complex Networks


Entry Credits