If you’re a fan of sports, music or fashion, the odds are you’ve encountered the work of Arman Singh Walia. Singh Walia leads the social media efforts at Complex, a magazine-turned-digital media juggernaut that touches all aspects of modern culture. He sits down with Vivid Seats and dishes on his career journey, Juice Wrld’s memorable performance at ComplexCon and the power of live event FOMO.
Vivid Seats: You've worked for some of the biggest media brands in the world. How did it all start?
Arman Singh Walia: Well, in college I wanted to major in English. I loved writing, and my only A in college came from Creative Writing 101. Sadly, I didn't realize you needed to read those thick books about old literature, and my grades weren't good enough. Fast forward after graduating with a business degree, I worked as a social media intern for a startup. I loved social media. I loved the fact that it was consistently growing and to be honest, no one really knew what to expect. I became the sports social media fellow at the Huffington Post where I handled all of their sports accounts. I played college football so my background has always been in sports. After the fellowship, I hopped over to CBS Sports part-time to handle their accounts. Then I landed at Bleacher Report, which was my first real job. It was great working in sports and making memes all day long. That takes me to today, at Complex as the Senior Social Media Director. The reason I said all of this is because it took so many fellowships and part-time jobs just to get my foot in the door. I never said "no" to anything, which is my biggest advice.
VS: Social media is ever-evolving. What's the most significant change you've seen during your career?
ASW: I would say the ability to make money off social media is the most significant, specifically publishers, outlets, athletes and everything in between. It's kind of hard to even remember a time when there wasn't social media. The fact that people can get paid to tweet or post on Instagram is wild and definitely one of the reasons social media is so powerful. Also, normally if someone told you where they work, you would Google them. Now, if you tell someone where you work, they instantly check out the socials. I think that's one of the biggest things brands forget: Social is your frontlines.
VS: How would you describe Complex? What makes it unique?
ASW: Complex is a lot of fun. It's a lifestyle brand so we touch basically every vertical, from sports to style to sneakers to music. I would say that's what I love about it the most, I'm not just focused on one thing. There are so many verticals involved and I'm learning something new everyday. Also, the people are great. Working with the right people is very important to me.
VS: Complex always seems ahead of the curve on social media. Tell us what you're doing right now on TikTok.
ASW: Well, when we started out on TikTok, I had no idea what I was doing. It was the most confusing thing ever, but I was also extremely excited. My entire career I was focused on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. So when a new platform arises, it's exciting to learn it and see how Complex can fit in. There were a ton of times when I would post something and just pray that it would do well. For example, you can't just take a video on IG and put it on TikTok and hope it works. You have to use the correct hashtags, the song, even the dimensions have to be the same. Now, we have a good groove going forward. One of my guys at Complex, Stefan, runs the account now. Seeing what he does daily is incredible. We also have a few branded content and monetization opportunities in the works, so it's exciting to see everything come to life.
VS: Few media entities have mastered live events the way Complex has with ComplexCon. In your role, how do you capture and celebrate the unique experience of ComplexCon?
ASW: My first ComplexCon was a year and a half ago and seeing it come to life was incredible. I always told my friends that it was like an experience I've never felt before. There would be times when I'm shopping for something, and LL Cool J or Lil Yachty are just right next to me, shopping for the same thing. That's the feeling at ComplexCon, everyone is looking just to have a good time. From the performances to the exclusive drops to the live panels, there is something for everyone at ComplexCon, which is why it's the cultural Super Bowl. You want to create that FOMO feeling on social, and given all the planned events at ComplexCon, it's easy to let people know that they need to be there.
VS: Complex has accounts dedicated to sports and music. For you personally, what's the most memorable game or concert you've attended?
ASW: Honestly, we had Juice Wrld perform at ComplexCon this past year and seeing him live was incredible. Given what happened, I think it was my most memorable concert. The vibe and energy he brought to the place was awesome.
VS: What advice would you give for someone who wanted to pursue a career in social media?
ASW: Do it. Have an open mind to every opportunity that comes across. Oh yeah, and don't tweet anything you wouldn't want your parents seeing. Seriously, think before you tweet.