8 Snapchat Lessons Yoga Teachers Can Learn from DJ Khaled
Going beyond the funny and lovable soundbites to examine the key strategies that have made him a social media phenomenon and living meme.
Snapchat is a social messaging app recently reported to have around 150 million people using it each day. This makes it more popular than Twitter by daily active users. It allows sending photos and short videos, called snaps, either directly to people or sharing them with those who follow your account.
Many of you have embraced Snapchat, but if you’re new to it, I recommend you first read my recent article, “Snapchat Basics for Yoga Teachers.” For those of you who are already active on Snapchat, the aim of this post is to give you ideas on how to build a strong following and attract more of the right kinds of students to your classes, workshops, and courses.
Who The Heck is DJ Khaled and What Does He Have to Do With Yoga Teachers??
DJ Khaled is an American record producer, radio personality, DJ, and record label executive. If you haven’t heard of him, you’ve almost certainly heard at least a couple of his major hit songs. Since late 2015, a number of his Snapchat videos of him detailing his “keys to success” went viral due to his larger than life persona. This newfound online recognition caused him to gain popularity, with some now going as far to describe him as a “living meme.”
To become successful at anything, it helps to learn from the masters. That’s what we do with our yoga training, and it’s no different for online media. The natural choice would be to follow the yoga teachers with large Snapchat followings and watch what they are doing. However, it’s also good to get inspiration from other spheres.
As far as Snapchat influencers go, one of the biggest and most unlikely is DJ Khaled and in this article, we’ll take a look at what yoga teachers can learn from his approach.
Eight Lessons in Snapchat Mastery From DJ Khaled
1. Be an Early Adopter
Content creators who get in early on new social media platforms have a head start in building their audience since there is less competition for attention. As a music industry professional specializing in the hip-hop genre, DJ Khaled is constantly monitoring trends among young people — especially his fans.
He observed that Snapchat was growing fast. My guess is that, as an industry veteran, he had likely missed out on similar opportunities in the past due to taking a wait-and-see approach. Despite being twice the age of most Snapchat’s users, he knew that it was worth taking the risk to jump on early before it went mainstream. This gave him a big advantage in building his following.
2. Be Worth Watching
Whether you love or hate him, Khaled is certainly unique and original. Once people started following him on Snapchat, they would often find him so entertaining that they would recommend him to their friends. This word-of-mouth publicity is critical for Snapchat because, unlike other social media platforms, it lacks discovery mechanisms and advertising is only affordable for large consumer brands. Many people loved his content so much; they would not only talk about it, but go as far as copying and uploading it to YouTube and Facebook.
- Keep it Light & Positive: DJ Khaled never gets talks about sophisticated topics because he knows his teenage audience would’t be able to follow. He doesn’t take himself seriously. Instead, he accepts his shortcomings and lets them be part of his presentation. If people find aspects of him amusing, it’s all good. He is always talking about personal success and the traits required to achieve it — all in his own unique way.
- Be Relatable: Khaled displays a range of emotions and moods authentically. He doesn’t try to force a smile or put on a persona and speaks to you; not at you. When you watch him, you feel like you are hanging out with him as part of his crew. You get to see behind the scenes and go wherever he goes — the shower, getting a haircut, going for a drive, watering the garden, or riding on his jet ski. He appears to just be saying or doing whatever he wants without any filter and speaks in simple language that anyone can understand.
“They key is to be yourself. Major key alert! Another key to Snapchat is to spread positive energy.” — DJ Khaled
- Talk About What’s Coming Next: Khaled builds anticipation by regularly telling us, “I’m up to something.” He also has the habit of dropping hints by asking his colleagues about something but getting the stock reply that “It’s top secret” and then responding with “I like that.” Later, once the dates of the event or release are fixed, he starts promoting it strongly. This is far more effective than just pushing something out cold to his audience.
- Make it About the Fans: Khaled’s slogan is “We the Best” — not “I’m the Best.” He seems to genuinely believe that he is doing everything for his fans. After watching him for a while, you feel like you are on his team and in this together somehow.
- Collaborate: While many of Khaled’s snaps are done solo, not a day goes by without him including at least somebody in his content. Often, within a single day you will see him with celebrities, influencers, fans, and interacting with colleagues or staff. It feels like he is bringing everyone along for the ride.
- Introduce Drama: He is always talking about a mysterious “they” who are trying to keep him and his fans down; the naysayers and haters. Deep down, we all at some time feel like there is a conspiracy to hold us back, although we rationally understand it isn’t true. Khaled plays to this, and we feel we are conspiring with him to rebel against these oppressors. But, it is done in a tongue-in-cheek way that is both funny and creates a sense of camaraderie. His various stock phrases about “they” have become popular culture memes with other celebrities quoting them.
“They go’n try to stop you, they go’n try. Notice how I said true. We ain’t never stopping.” — DJ Khaled
3. Release Fresh Content Daily
Part of the appeal of watching someone on Snapchat is that they are usually shooting it themselves from an everyday device. There is no production team and no editing. This gives it a raw, authentic, and in-the-moment feeling. Once you get used to the app, you realize that it offers a very streamlined content creation process. This means that there is no excuse for not snapping at least every few days.
Khaled takes pride in the fact that he is putting out fresh content for his audience on a daily basis. From the viewer’s perspective, watching Khaled becomes a daily habit or ritual. Many like to watch him before they go to sleep at night, for example.
4. Focus on Video Content
For Snapchat, video is the most popular type of content consumed. Photos are easier to take, but they run the risk of boring people. Since Snapchat videos are limited to ten seconds, he keeps his message very short, often repeating a simple phrase two or three times. He realizes that most of his audience won’t be in the mood for thinking deeply or listening to rants. They just want to be entertained, so he rarely engages in the practice of recording a monolog over the course of successive videos.
5. Stay On-Brand & Consistent
His videos seem random and spontaneous, but they are always “on brand.” They always portray a facet of his identity that he wants his audience to see. You’re never confused about whom you are watching and what it’s about.
- He has various keywords, stock phrases such as “We the Best” “another one” or “bless up”, and mannerisms that he uses as part of his persona. They are so iconic that other celebrities and influencers have begun using them.
- He has various rituals that keep recurring in his videos such as watering the garden, enjoying fresh flowers, showing what he’s going to eat, having his haircut, and working out.
- Everybody who appears along with him in his snaps is there for a reason and helps with the narrative.
6. Always Be Closing
Khaled doesn’t come across as wanting to make money from his fans or sell them anything they don’t already want. He seems to truly believe he is on some sort of mission.
“I know that I’ve been put on this Earth to make people happy, to inspire people, and to uplift people. That’s a beautiful thing.” — DJ Khaled
However, at the same time, somehow as part of this mission, he shamelessly promotes himself, his artists, and any products that he is being paid to endorse. Mixed in with all the entertaining antics, he is constantly telling you what to get, buy, do, use, and where to go to see him perform. His disarming simplicity combined with his straightforward and repetitive calls-to-action are almost hypnotic in a sense. After watching his snaps for a while, you get so accustomed to this that it feels like the natural thing to do would be to just go along with his instructions.
7. Promote Your Snapchat Account
- Promote Online: Unlike some social networks, Snapchat has no user discovery mechanisms and running ads is only affordable for large companies. To get around these obstacles and start building his following on Snapchat, Khaled promoted his account via his existing presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Use your blog and social media to promote your Snapchat account. Don’t be annoying by just throwing out your ghost code or handle everywhere and telling people to follow you. Instead, entice people to find you on Snapchat for exclusive behind-the-scenes content.
- Be Discoverable: Be sure to register on all the Snapchat user directories such as GhostCodes and SnapPals. By the time these directories came out, Khaled was already huge, so he has never registered, but since they are available and free, we mere mortals should take advantage of them.
- Promote Offline: Put your Snapchat username on any class or workshop flyers, and your business card. If you have a studio, put up a notice where it can easily be seen.
- Collaborate: Khaled often includes other people with a large following, and they, in turn, give him exposure. He also mentions his Snapchat activity naturally in his various interviews or media appearances.
8. Diversify Your Online Presence
There are many examples of social media platforms that have lost popularity. Successful influencers know that long-term they can’t afford to be on only one or two platforms and so diversify their risk. In addition to Snapchat, Khaled is active across the platforms most popular with his audience. In his fast-moving business of hip-hop music where youth trends come and go like the weather, he is focused on being where his target demographic’s attention is.
Team Khaled (he’s obviously not doing everything by himself) also repurposes his snaps. That is, Khaled will save them on his phone and then he or someone else (likely the latter) will upload it to other social media platforms. However, they are very careful about what they share and where they share it.
- Facebook: With over 1.65 billion users, Facebook is obviously a high priority for Team Khaled. Facebook users are accustomed to horizontal/landscape images and videos. Content on this platform also tends to be more polished and curated compared to the rawness of Snapchat. For this reason, you don’t tend to see as much of his Snapchat content being reposted on his Facebook page.
- Instagram: This Facebook-owned social networking app has over 500 million users. Team Khaled knows that a good number of his Instagram followers are not yet active on Snapchat. Therefore, a lot of his Snapchat content is also uploaded here. However, Team Khaled doesn’t just mindlessly repost everything there. Instagram is about visually rich content, so they cherry pick the best-looking or most entertaining Snapchat content and also adds other attractive visuals to the mix.
- Twitter: This network has 310 million users, and many match Khaled’s target demographic. Khaled’s Twitter is a firehose of everything he is doing and promoting. Twitter is focused on what is happening in the moment, so there is less expectation for things to be as polished. Therefore, you will see much of his Snapchat content being shared here. Team Khaled knows that Tweets over twenty minutes old are likely to have been lost to the quick-flowing stream of content, and so the most important content is sent out multiple times.
- YouTube: With over one billion users, YouTube is by far the dominant video platform. Khaled’s YouTube channel is managed by VEVO and we don’t know how much control he has over it. YouTube viewers prefer horizontal/landscape content with high production value, and so the upside of uploading his Snapchat content on YouTube is minimal. I expect it is for this reason that Khaled doesn’t appear to be uploading his snaps to YouTube. However, quite a few are uploaded by fans.
Time to Start Hustling
Khaled has considerable budget and resources to invest in his social media presence. Indeed, he has a support team behind him, and it’s not clear how much work he puts into all this online activity overall. That said, you can still learn from him and focus on doing the best you can with what you have. Start out by taking one snap per day and seeing where that takes you.
“They never said winning was easy.” — DJ Khaled