Customer Engagement

Why Your Audience Is Listening to DJ Khaled on Snapchat

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“They don’t want us to eat breakfast. Enjoy it.”

On an average morning, millions of viewers might hear these empowering words from the Snapchat profile of DJ Khaled, a Miami-based music producer and media personality.

In an iconic segment of his Snapchat videos, Khaled starts off most mornings walking into the kitchen, greeting his chef, and proceeding to eat a nutritious breakfast of egg whites and turkey sausage while explaining to his audience that the simple act of eating breakfast is a source of frustration for his unnamed detractors, whom he refers to as they. Much to their chagrin, he eats it anyway.

Who are these detractors? Why do they hate that he eats breakfast? DJ Khaled doesn’t elaborate. In fact, that becomes the appeal of his platitudes – frivolous and ambiguous, yet somehow uplifting and relatable.

Khaled proceeds to take the audience into an average day of his life  through a series of short videos— he takes care of his flowers, gets a haircut, showers, stops by his music studio, meets his fans downtown, and smokes cigars in his Jacuzzi. Some days are far more opulent for the social star — this weekend, in fact, his audience found him attending the White House Correspondent’s Dinner as a guest of Arianna Huffington and the Formation Tour as a supporting act of Beyoncé. Between these experiences, Khaled also sprinkles in entertaining and provocative life advice, known as his “keys to success” — maintaining positivity, staying clean, and being honest.

How influential is Khaled? He has taken a seemingly mundane routine into the national spotlight, becoming one of the Snapchat platform’s first big luminaries. Khaled’s videos attract 3 million to 4 million viewers from ages 12–34. To put this in perspective, Nielson reports that roughly 3.3 million people age 12–34 watch The Big Bang Theory. Yes, on an average video, DJ Khaled has more views than an acclaimed television show. 

Building on some existing fame from his music career, Khaled promotes his Snapchat brand at the intersection of a rich mogul, goofy uncle, and life coach. His common phrases, including “Bless Up” and “Major Key” have become embedded in millennial lexicon. He has drawn the attention and respect of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, Gary Vaynerchuk, and other venerated advocates of social technology.

To social business executives and chief marketing officers around the country, Snapchat continues to be a bit of an enigma. For those looking to connect with millennial buyers, it’s no secret that Snapchat — where 71 percent of 200 million monthly active users are millennials (18–34 years old) — can be an influential vehicle. In its own way, however, it defies logic. In a world where executives are constantly told that content, engagement, and community are the tools needed to drive a successful social model, it’s hard to identify where exactly a platform with disappearing content fits into the strategy. David Gaines, Chief Planning Officer of Maxus Global, readily admitted of Snapchat training sessions: “I’ll be honest, I had no idea what they were talking about half the time.”

The success of DJ Khaled demonstrates the paucity of the conviction that content calendars, intimate analytics, and intensive brand campaigns are necessary for robust marketing. On the contrary, Khaled has vaulted to the top of Snapchat with very little preparation or scheduling. He has created a meme-ready brand out of his routine. The secret of DJ Khaled is ironically what marketing officers have suppressed so long — mindless entertainment over thoughtful utility. On the same platform where millennials are puking rainbows, DJ Khaled plants flowers, rides jet skis, and throws out heart-warming platitudes. Aspiring Snapchat fanatics have tried to mimic Khaled’s storytelling finesse to the point of ridicule and suspicion — yet DJ Khaled still manages to turn these simple life talks into millions of views.

So why is your millennial audience listening to DJ Khaled?

  • Intimacy: With DJ Khaled, your audience knows every part of his daily routine. They know what he eats for breakfast, they know the name of his chef, they can identify his best friends, and they are able to relish in his lavish lifestyle. Once thought to be a distant and rather pretentious member of the music scene, DJ Khaled is now followed by legions seeking to better understand his goals, motivations, and personal tendencies. DJ Khaled even meets many of his fans out in the open in his videos, a clear bridge between the industry figurehead and the human being.

Social Business Prompt: How can you use Snapchat to help people get a more intimate understanding of your team or product? How can you use your daily routine to help others empathize with your mission?

  • Character: With DJ Khaled, your audience sees an almost caricatured version of a philosopher — he has a set of common sayings, has built a trademark emoji, and even uses repetition in his daily routine to the point where it has become an extension of his brand. There is even an “Old People’s Guide to DJ Khaled,” signifying that he has had enough out-of-the-box trademarks to merit a dissection guide. Your audience knows his sayings and wastes no time mentally associating these sayings with Khaled.

Social Business Prompt: Are there one or two concepts that immediately come to mind when others think of your company? Do you have an emoji or saying you identify with that no other company is using?

  • Simplicity: With DJ Khaled, your audience doesn’t see an intricate or forced effort to connect with an audience. Instead, he looks at the most trivial aspects of life (eating breakfast and watering plants) and turns them into significant parts of his day. DJ Khaled has turned what others often consider “dull” and “boring” into an extended form of entertainment value. His product placements are introduced as part of his daily routine — he regularly drinks Apple Ciroc with dinner and wears his company’s slippers when walking to breakfast. His products are presented in an everyday context that is far less forced than a Facebook post or Google ad. DJ Khaled is not an intensive student of behavior but he is certainly privy to the idea that there are still millennials who, though often painted as a generation focused on deeper meaning, are entertained by concepts that are simple and sometimes even mindless in nature.

Social Business Prompt: Are you overthinking your next marketing campaign? Are you forcing products into places where millennials aren’t looking? Are you ignoring pop culture for fear of it not being advanced enough?

Many brands, such as Aer Lingus, Marriott and Taco Bell, are pioneering the platform for large companies and showing how memorable slogans, real-time stories, inside peeks, and live content can be used to bring social marketing to new heights.

Check out DJ Khaled (@djkhaled305) to see for yourself if Snapchat may be your company’s next big move. 


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