The key is to have every key; What DJ Khalid can teach us about Social Media

On the surface, DJ Khaled is no different than any other hip hop star. He is living the high life punctuated by travel, parties and luxury hotels, hobnobbing with other hip hop stars and boasting about it. Then, what is it that makes this 40-odd American rap producer, radio personality, and DJ such a huge hit with college goers and teenagers. Bloomberg claims that DJ Khaled has a bigger millennial audience than even the Big Bang Theory, which is the #1 American sitcom.

DJ Khaled or Khaled Mohamed Khaled is not a novice to the hip hop rap scene. This originally from New Orleans personality has been in the Miami rap scene for over a decade. He released his first album ‘Listennn’ in 2006 and he is considered a legend in the industry with some of the most popular anthems to his credit. However, it’s only recently that his popularity has soared to another dimension. And, all thanks to his original shenanigans on Snapchat.

Snapchat, the self destructing image messaging app, has seen a phenomenal rise in the last couple of years. Today, it has become more popular than Facebook among American teens, and gets 10 billion video views a day (up from 8 billion in February), according to this report by Bloomberg. And, Khaled’s videos attract 3 to 4 million viewers each, with the first 500,000 people watching it within 5 minutes of him posting! That’s something of a rare achievement, for a person that joined Snapchat only in November 2015. No wonder he is unanimously called the ‘King of Snapchat’.

Interestingly, DJ Khaled with his antics and tactics, has managed to draw the attention of the marketing community and entrepreneurs as well. Let’s see what social media lessons he has in store for brands.


Keep it Real.

People want to see your true side and what really happens behind the scenes. On social media where content is ghostwritten, emotions are made up, and images photoshopped, DJ Khaled shows the reality of his life. From eating his typical breakfast of egg whites and turkey sausages, watering plants and workout regimes to getting messed up at clubs, he is not hesitant or embarrassed about showing the bold, funny and raw side of his life and fans are loving it.

Takeaway: Let the authenticity of your brand reflect in your social media strategy. Your customers want to know what your brand is all about and how real it is behind all adverts & publicity. This nature of connection will go a long way in building your brand image and your customers’ trust.

One to one interaction

According to a landmark study released by Elite Daily and Millennial Branding, 62% of Millennials say if a brand interacts with them over social media, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. DJ Khaled knows that fans want real connections. Hence, if you watch his Snapchat stories, you will notice his fans are featured regularly. To keep his fans up close and personal, he has started doing meet-ups, disclosing the time and location on Snapchat so that his fans can engage with him in real life. It’s apparent from his actions how much he appreciates his followers and is grateful for their support. No wonder, fans inherently trust him and follow him loyally.

Takeaway: Continuously interact and engage with your followers on your social media networks and let them know they are being heard, recognized and appreciated. Show them how important they are for your brand.

Choose one medium and dominate it

Jack of all trades, master of none. When it comes to marketing in the world that has gone social, this adage is a bit of a guiding light. Marketers scramble to be on every single social media platform, mostly repeating themselves. They bend over to tweet everyday, post their new pictures on Instagram and post new updates on Facebook or Vine. They put in so much time and effort into so many different channels and conversations that they actually don’t excel at any of them. Their purpose is to post, and that’s not a good enough purpose. DJ Khaled focuses on only one channel, and does it really well. It’s not as if he is not present on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but he has made Snapchat his special hanging out place. He uses Snapchat to capture his stories and (mis-)adventures, and share his famous life lessons. Rooting from Snapchat, his stories find a way to spread onto every other medium, because his content is worth talking about and sharing.


Takeaway: Putting your finger in too many pies may not a good idea. Choose a social media network that is the most appropriate for your target customers and loved by them. Design your brand story around this particular network, and let it spill over to other platforms, partly organically and partly by push strategy.

Be consistent

Marketers are so busy analysing keywords and numbers, that they forget the bigger picture. Nothing is more important than what the audience wants, and what the audience wants is to see a consistent message about the brand that resonates with with their meta stories. This is what DJ Khaled does effortlessly. People follow DJ Khaled because he is consistent in his music styles. People follow him because he keeps similar threads and catchphrases (or should we say ‘Brand Promise’) such as ‘keys to success’, ‘bless up’, ‘major key’ or ‘let’s see what’s for breakfast’, and his famous emojis. People follow him because he stays consistent throughout his stories, even though sometimes they may sound vague, silly, weird, repetitive or mundane. The fans know what to expect from him and what he represents, which give them a sense of satisfaction and positive feeling. That’s powerful marketing.

Takeaway: Make sure you speak with one voice in all your messages across all social media networks, consistently. The idea is to build a unified brand persona across networks, yet speak in the language of the medium. Over a period of time, customers will start associating this message strongly with your brand.

Adopt the lexicon of your audience

DJ Khaled uses a lot of ‘they’ in his snapchats. According to DJ Khaled, ‘they’ are his haters or people with a negative mindset. When he is referring to ‘they’ he is giving a shout out to all his haters that they won’t win, at least not against him. His young fans Instantaneously relate to him, as most teenagers feel they are oppressed, unheard and hated. Basically, ‘they’ is a clever gimmick by the hip hop star to gang up with his young fans.

Takeaway: Talk in the ‘language’ your customers like to speak. The language here doesn’t mean language, it means a phrase, hashtag or a lingo that resonates with their thoughts and mindset. Once your customers pick up this language, they will share it through likes, comments, tweets or photo shares. You would be amazed at the speed your brand message goes viral among your customers – existing as well as potential.

Marketers use social media networks in their own way to promote brands. But, building the social presence of a brand is a tough job, especially when you may not see immediate ROI. A successful brand on the social media is one which doesn’t appear to try too hard to deliver its social voice. Like in the case of DJ Khaled, whose messages come across naturally. The “keys to success” for an effective social media marketing strategy is to remain authentic, consistent, relevant and regular with things that matter to the brand audience. Time to #practiceNext till we connect again.

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