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DJ Khaled's Major Keys to Brand Success

Love him, hate him, or never heard of him at all, DJ Khaled is on top of the world right now. Coming off the release of his latest studio album, ‘Major Key,’ DJ Khaled is up to something that many marketers would kill for, and it has nothing to do with his music.

In less than a year, he’s catapulted himself from one of hip-hop’s go to hype men to ‘The King of Snapchat’ and one of the most influential brand ambassadors on the web.

While your brand may not have his money or his access to some of hip-hop’s elite, there are plenty of things we could all stand to learn from DJ Khaled, the social media marketing master.

Started from the Bottom

If you have absolutely no clue who or what DJ Khaled is about, you’re not alone. The self-proclaimed hip-hop and R&B mogul has worked mostly behind the scenes on some of Top-40’s biggest hits since 2006. His biggest hits include him behind the turntable instead of on the mic.

Now the 40-year-old Khaled stands as one of the stars of social media. The featured list on his new album reads like an All-Star Team of Hip-Hop (Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Jay-Z, Future, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj & Nas, among others). He toured the country alongside Beyonce on the Formation World Tour. He’s become one of the faces of Apple Music. So how did one of hip-hop’s best DJs grow become a larger than life internet persona? Follow along as we uncover some of the major keys to DJ Khaled’s brand success.

Major Key #1: Another One! Start Small, Build as You Go

Whether he’s showing you his ever-growing sneaker collection, cruising on his jet ski or dishing out one of his latest ‘keys to success,’ DJ Khaled has dominated Snapchat unlike any other. Ask your son, daughter, co-worker or even your boss who their favorite person to follow on Snapchat is; DJ Khaled is probably the answer.

With over 6 million followers and nearly 2 million views per Snap, no one is succeeding at Snapchat quite like DJ Khaled. So how did he do it?

What DJ Khaled does right is honing in on a singular channel where he could get the highest reach. After he built himself a following on Snapchat, he used it as a platform to cross promote his other social media channels. A lot of brands waste too much time and resources wearing themselves thin across a string of media channels. Instead, we should be focusing in on one or two channels where we know our audience lives. Once we start killing it on these platforms, we can leverage our communities to grow other channels.

Major Key #2: Don’t Be The ‘They!’ Provide Real Value With Your Message

Before DJ Khaled, brands weren’t big on Snapchat. In its simplest form, Snapchat is an entertainment platform before anything else. It’s not a place to push your products or message on audiences, or a place for ’they’ to tell us what we can’t do.
What makes DJ Khaled so successful is that he gets what engages people on Snapchat, while still managing to highlight the brands that back him. Khaled has mastered that art of the Snapchat story, attracting millions of views and laughs along the way. That entertainment value is what helps hold together the strong bond and adoration he shares with his followers.

If you watch DJ Khaled’s Snaps closely though, you’ll notice that the content is littered with brand placement and product promotions in between all of the breakfasts, watering plants and workout routines. Everyone from Apple to Silk to Luc Belaire to Listerine have their hands in Khaled’s Snaps.

DJ Khaled has promoted everything from Champagne to Soy Milk in his Snapchat Story

DJ Khaled has promoted everything from Champagne to Soy Milk in his Snapchat Story

So how does he do it without alienating his following? Most of DJ Khaled’s product placements become a part of the story he is creating, adding to the plot without disrupting the narrative. When we create content for brands, we have to find a similar balance in our approach. Instead of thinking about product promotion, think of how your product or services add value to the lives of your customers. Disruptive advertising and pushy sales tactics are out. Now, it’s all about finding ways to make your products a part of the story.

Major Key #3: Don’t Ever Play Yourself! Be Honest & Real

Brands could learn a thing or two about DJ Khaled's ability to pull back the layers or privacy

Brands could learn a thing or two about DJ Khaled’s ability to pull back the layers or privacy

Unlike other social media channels, Snapchat is the one place where you can’t make things up. There are no ghostwritten status updates or filtered stock photos to be seen. What you see is what you get, and it’s ultimately what your audience wants to engage with.

One of the biggest reasons behind DJ Khaled’s ascension to Snapchat stardom is his unabashed willingness to invite his followers into his life. His Snapchat stories go into his house, his tour bus and even the homes of his friends. In short, Khaled has pulled back almost every layer of privacy concerning his personal brand. And audiences eat it up.

People yearn for something real from the brands they engage with. Showing the true side of your brand is one of the best ways to connect with audiences and create a real experiences. While you may not be able to employ the likes of Fat Joe or T.I. for your brand, you’d be surprised at just how much engagement taking your audience behind the scenes into day-to-day office life can bring to your business. In the end, people want to work with other people, and social media is one of the best ways to create that connection.

Major Key #4: Building Your Brand ‘All the Way Up!’

Building a loyal community of followers is what propelled DJ Khaled’s Snapchat stardom. After Khaled’s infamous Jet Ski incident in December, word of his Snapchat story spread across the nation like wildfire. His follower numbers skyrocketed, and most of it was can be directly attributed to word of mouth.

If DJ Khaled can navigate his jet ski in the dead of night, you can propel your brand community forward. One of the things that DJ Khaled has become notorious for on his Snapchat stories is showing “Fan Luv.” Whether it’s posting a specific location, date and time or just cruising along the shores of Miami Beach, Khaled is always showing appreciation to his fans by letting them become a part of the story.

As brands, we need to find ways to bring our audiences into the story. People don’t want to sit on the sidelines and let brands dictate the market. They want to become a part of the conversation, taking an active role in defining the personality of a brand.  Letting them become part of the brand is a great way to build up your community and drive engagement. Not only will you appear more human and likable, your followers will quickly turn into brand ambassadors. With the backing of a loyal community on your side, the possibilities are endless.

Don’t let your brand fall victim to the ‘they’ that surrounds us. Follow DJ Khaled along the journey to more success and get in touch with the thinkers, innovators and influencers at Eyeflow Internet Marketing. Putting our creative minds at work, our team uncovers how to bring your brand to life and catapult engagement into the next level. Stop wasting time and resources on boring social media strategies. Contact Eyeflow today and discover how together we can help your brand ‘win more.’

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Cory is the Director of Content Development at Eyeflow. He graduated with a degree in Multimedia from Point Park University, where he held focus in print writing and online content. When not at work, Cory spends his time conquering Pittsburgh's hills on his bike, tackling DIY projects and crafting creative recipes.

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