I had the pleasure of interviewing Kent Heckel, Online video creator and CEO of the Antisocial Friends Club a social media consulting company for Influencers and Brands. Most well known for being the largest college daily vlogger on the platform while he was in school and his appearance in “Internet Kids” a film following internet stars attending VidCon. As of late Kent has been featured for exposing his story about building social media bots and the Dark Web of Instagram.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started creating internet content while in High School when I learned about daily vlogging. My mother thought it would be a good way to get me out of the house and making things as I had fallen into a bit of a slump. In the beginning I was making videos everyday with no plan of monetization, making things and being a creator was the intention. Slowly I realized as a small creator growing decently fast that I needed to plan out my brand like a business and focus in on monetizing the verticals that we’re already working. As a lot of my fellow creators will realize the money wasn’t coming from views to my channel but from brands that wanted to target my audience. This is when I really started to look into what type of content was bringing in the most interest from brands and that was college content. So I decided to go all in and completely branded myself as the college vlogger not only on youtube but on google search. I dove into SEO and made it so that if you googled “College Vlogger” or “College Youtuber” you would find me. This was the smartest move I could make to attract brands as most companies looking for influencers in a vertical would just google it and pick the first people to show up, in less than a week my inbox was exploding with inquiries and I could start choosing the brands I wanted to work with instead of taking any random sock company that shot me an email.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
My favorite moment of my vlogging career was the day I called the “Trampoline Room.” I had a single room while living in the dorms in school and would always be scheming to create something crazy related to dorm rooms as this is the most searched thing related to college. When I was browsing amazon I found a full sized trampoline that if assembled inside my room would fit and be fully functional. So through the magic of Amazon Prime 2 days later I had a 12’ x 12’ trampoline in my 14’ x 14’ dorm and it evolved into a full on party. Word spread on campus and we had tons of kids coming through to jump but as things go at college the people in charge of my house came and shut it down (not before having a jump of their own). The school did end up adding a specific rule stating that trampolines are no longer allowed in Dorm rooms and now I feel like I left my impact on that school.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My biggest focus with my new consulting company is to focus on what I can be doing to bring goodness to the world and this very much includes the clients I am choosing to work with. My first clients have been charities and helping their message get out is really fulfilling and I hope to help more organizations do the same.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
Branding, branding and branding. Like I said above I was able to make more money than almost every other channel my size to my knowledge was because I put myself in front of brands and ran my channel like a business. I focused on the side of the channel that made me money and that opened me up to actually take less brand deals and focus on the ones that I wanted too promote. I.e the Microsoft deal I did where we filmed a commercial together and went to events together was the highest I have ever been paid to make a YouTube video. It was the most fun and excited I have ever been about working with a brand and as a creator that feeling makes all the work so worth it. That feeling right there is why I make videos and run a business, the excitement to get up everyday and work!
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
Jake Roper from the youtube channel Vsauce3
Can you share a story?
Jake is my mentor and has been the most encouraging person to me in my YouTube and social media career. As many people in the community know it is often hard to meet people who have larger followings than you because there is often a sense of competition and that is a huge deterrent to small creators, Jake did everything in his power to not let me feel that. He taught me that nobody wants to feel less than someone else and it’s never okay to treat someone as lesser than you no matter the size of their following. I took away the desire to always provide value not only to the people that choose to follow me but anyone who reaches out through email, dms, text or the 1000 other ways to contact and influencer. I don’t want anyone to feel that they can’t grow, or be a part of the youtube community.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
My biggest project right now is my new company the AntiSocial Friends Club, a social media consulting agency for creatives, influencers and brands. Starting with strategy all the way down to content creation I am super excited to help people tell their stories and grow their audience. We are excited to fully launch the company in the next few months and have some really excited work lined up!
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Plan — A strategy will help you stay organized and on top of your work. When I first started making content online I was incredibly disorganized. I would post a video and forget to promote it, or share it on Instagram but not twitter, or my messaging was weird and wouldn’t convert to viewers because I didn’t take the time to plan out my schedule. Once I started to weekly plan upload times, Instagram posts, tweets and promotion I would never feel that sense of stress when i would upload as I knew I had given each post enough thought.
- Diversify — The more places you can put your content the higher chance you have to grow or build community. I started as just a YouTuber but once I decided I wanted to share a clip from the vlog on twitter and got 20% higher viewership on that video I decided it was time to start sharing more. Then when I brought in the weekly email recap of the vlogs they would just get more and more views. I have tried everywhere from Twitter, Instagram and snapchat to even Imgur, Reddit and iFunny because you never know where you content could get picked up. A personal rule I have is don’t rule out a new platform until you have at least given it 1 hour and 3 pieces of content. Randomly one week I picked up an extra 10k views off of a reddit post because the community was interested in my content, That would have never happened if I didn’t think to post things elsewhere.
- Go all in on what works — Something go viral? Make more ASAP and document the process. The amount of times I see a youtuber have a video that “pops” and goes pretty viral but they don’t follow up with something to nurture those new viewers even more is a hug loss. The channel Joogsquad is a perfect example of this. They had really steady growth until they posted a video about a certain topic and it went crazy viral, from there they did themed weeks all about those topics and gained hundreds of thousands of followers super super quickly because they built more content around their viral idea. Jack Tenney the leader of that channel is a genius for that and to this day I learn a lot about mobilizing an audience from what he posts and does.
- SEO- If nobody can find you then do you really exist? When I started out I just assumed people would find my work and immediately want to start giving me money, this is in fact not the case at all. Making sure people can find you no matter how big or small your audience is so important, My first conversation piece with all my new influencers is if I googled your “niche” can I find you? Because if I can’t find you neither can a brand that wants to give you their money.
- Branding- Owning who you are and owning that through your content will make you stand out and bring people deeper into your content. If you make the info readily available that you are a female college comedian uploading every wednesday you will find people are much more inclined to stick around your content because you give them the information to know if they fit in with your brand and content.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Michael Dubin, the CEO of Dollar Shave club has always been the most fascinating character to me. He is a brilliant marketer who through combining what he learned as a marketing student and Improv skills together has created some of the most impactful and fun ads I have ever seen. I am a huge fan of good ads and in my book the original Dollar Shave club ad has to be one of my favorite videos on the internet.
Originally published at medium.com