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This College Dropout Is Schooling Influencers and Startups on How to Get a Next Level Social Media Following

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Ryan Hertel, Founder of Socialocca

College isn’t for everyone. Ryan Hertel can vouch. He spent three semesters studying mass communications at King’s College, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, after surrendering to pressure from his parents to follow the traditional pathway to money and happiness. Now, the 24-year-old is running his own business — a creative branding agency called Socialocca — in the same field in which many of his degree-holding peers are struggling to stay afloat or even secure entry-level jobs.

As influencers and startups are waking up each day to grind and shine and stand out, Ryan has his finger on the pulse of what works in marketing, what doesn’t and where social media is going. He recently spoke to Better than the Weekend to share some insights.

You’re an unlikely choice to be administering marketing advice to companies. You don’t have a college degree. What makes you an expert? I’m helping people build their brand online. In order to do that, I don’t necessarily need a marketing degree. I just need to have the experience of building a brand. The reason I can even contend when it comes to being in the know about branding and social media and marketing is because I built a DJ’ing business and was successful at building that business by utilizing social media to spread the word and get more than 13,000 followers on Instagram alone. Most people with a marketing degree say, ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing. I was taught what to do.’ I can say, ‘Hey, I know what I’m doing. I used social media to make money for my own business. I can do it for you.’ A lot of people have the knowledge of what to do, but they don’t actually have the track record to prove they can grow a brand’s following. 

Photographed by Lisa Petz

Influencers and newer companies may feel their credibility lies in numbers. Some buy followers to build their credibility. What are the pros and cons to focusing on the amount of followers you have in the beginning by paying for them? People who don’t know what they’re doing who want to be social media influencers do this too often when they’re starting out. There aren’t any pros to buying followers anymore. There were when people were easily fooled and buying followers weren’t a common practice. You can’t fake the following anymore. It’s easy to spot a fake audience today. Plus, fake followers will actually hurt your algorithms on Instagram or Facebook. Less of your real following will see your content. A bunch of fake accounts will see your content and your level of engagement will make you look far less popular than you should be. 

Some services promote buying real followers. Are there any services you know of that do this which you’d recommend? That’s not a real thing. They’re scams. Don’t fall for it. I’d recommend any service that acknowledges they can’t grow your service overnight and one that focuses on goals and not guaranteeing a certain amount of followers. Anybody who says they guarantee results is lying to you. Organic marketing cannot be guaranteed. It all depends on how good the marketing campaign is and how good the content is. 

How important are hashtags in connecting with new followers? They’re not important any more. Plain and simple, anyone who knows what they’re doing on social media doesn’t care about hashtags. They were cool like four years ago. Now, we’re just at the point where some of these hashtags are used by 56 million other people. Hashtags are way too oversaturated. No-one is sitting on their phone and looking up hashtags. It might get a couple more likes, but they’re usually from auto-generated services, anyway. Instagram is now doing something called shadow banning, where they’re even hiding many of these hashtags because they’re trying to slow down the feed. So your hashtag might not even be seen. If you’re relying on hashtags, you have to get way more creative with your marketing.

What is important when marketing your posts? What’s most important, above everything, is the quality of the post. Posting too frequently hurts your feed. Posting quality pics and videos less frequently will be more beneficial, because those posts can circulate for a couple of days if they’re quality posts. People are on social media to listen to what you have to say. It’s now a popularity contest, not a contest as to who posts the most.

Then is consistency still important, or has consistency evolved in terms of marketing on social media? The consistency of the quality of your post is better than the consistency of when you post. While being consistent is important, people get a little too carried away with it, thinking they have to post twice a day at the same time every day. That’s too much for people to take in. They need to be more consistent with the quality of what they’re putting out there and not the time.

Ryan Hertel, Founder of Socialocca

Any tips for influencers and brands when it comes to engaging with their audience? It’s important to actually engage with others and not just post content. Like posts. Comment. Not just on your feed, but there’s too. Even as a business, you want to Like posts and engage on other accounts. Tag people you’re working with. If you’re just sitting there doing nothing, nobody is going to remember you or think about you. If they constantly see you tagging and interacting with others like a regular person, they’re going to take you more seriously.

Where is social media headed? Everything is starting to turn into people asking, ‘What are they doing right now?’ Look at Snapchat and Instagram stories and Facebook Live. You can really cast your entire day on social media for people to see and people will watch. They’re interested in seeing what you’re doing in real-time, they respond to it, and they rush to see it before it usually disappears in 24 hours. When it comes to structure and systems and processes, it’s important to know rules don’t apply. No one rule applies to the same two people or company. Influencers and brands need to start living in the moment and capturing that. The future of social media is immediacy.

And there you have it. Now make like Missy Elliot, put your thing down, flip it, and reverse it onto your own social media branding agenda. Good luck!

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Pickledelphia Rescheduled for October, See You There

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Shit weather put Philly’s first-ever pickle festival in, well, a pickle. The rain washed away plans for the food fest to take place earlier this month, but a new day has been chosen: Sunday, October 14.

The festival will still go down at The Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons when it unites pickle lovers this fall.

In case this is the first time you’re hearing about Pickledelphia, here’s what to expect: More than a dozen food vendors, plus 15 pickle companies, who’ll be selling themed edibles such as pickle-flavored ice cream, pickle creme brûlée, and pickle pizza.

Pickledelphia even partnered with Jameson for a pickle back bar. Yeah, they’re not fucking around. Pickle Bloody Mary’s. Pickle margaritas. This is not a drill.

Better than the Weekend will have a tent set up with some giveaways, so be sure to say hi.

Information on the event, presented by Studio 27 Print & Design and Digital Force Agency, can be found by visiting their website: phillypicklefest.com.

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Inside Performix House: The Gym That’s Harder to Get In than an Ivy League School

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Welcome to Performix House — if they’ll let you in. This is New York’s latest elite fitness establishment and it’s where the most driven, fit, influential, able-bodied minds unite to achieve the ultimate Instagram-worthy body. With a 13 percent acceptance rate, it’s easier to get accepted to an Ivy League university such as Cornell.

The fitness incubator is an extension of Performix, a sports performance supplement brand available for sale in GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe.

The lowest tier of membership begins at $249 per month, which does not include independent gym access: members must have a scheduled personal training session with one of Performix House’s trainers to use the fitness facility. For $899 each month, members enjoy the luxury of unlimited access to Performix House’s premium amenities, including massages and cryotherapy.

One month of top-tier membership could allow someone to work out at Planet Fitness for seven-and-a-half years. It would even cost less to lease a 2018 Maserati than it would to be a member at Performix House.

Their personal trainers, who they refer to as collaborators instead of employees, have access to Performix House’s professional video production team to create the best fitness content. videographer and editor to create content. “We’re helping them connect with their consumers and grow their following,” says Hesse.

Devon Levesque is among their training collaborators. He has more than 80,000 Instagram followers.

The dude is a beast.

Matt Hesse, founder and CEO of Performix House, accepted about 230 members out of roughly 1800 applicants.

Hesse told Forbes membership isn’t unobtainable. He wants to bring together a community of driven individuals. Each applicant is given the opportunity to answer one testing question: What do you do to own every day?

After hearing that, my new goal is to work out at Performix House.

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Scranton Artists: Here’s Why We Need Art

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Some jackasses, a.k.a. policy-makers and school boards, just don’t seem to f#&%ing get the importance of art enough to secure its funding and need to have its influence spelled out.

The Electric City is about to get more eclectic thanks to a group of artists banding together — basically for the good of mankind — to host a series of inventive workshops placing priority on connecting the community through creative expression during one of the most politically and culturally divisive climates in modern America. Among the artists, a wine glass painter who helps looking at the emptiness following the last sip of boxed Franzia (we all drink it) a little less depressing. Another makes flashy hats — the kind you saw posh guests wear to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They’re called fascinators. Then there’s a young woman who crafts dreamcatchers and alters books from their original form to turn them into something eye-catching and display-worthy. A graphic designer is even in the mix.

The workshops will initiate this fall at the new Eclectic City Studio inside Jeff D’Angelo’s Design Group HQ at 631 Prospect Ave.

Each artist will have sign-ups for their debut workshop, while displaying and selling their art, at Bogart Court, the brick alley nestled behind Lackawanna Ave., during First Friday Scranton from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on September 7. They’ll set up outside AOS Metals, which sells handmade jewelry and a collection of items from local handmade artists, and The Velvet Elvis, a kitschy vintage shop that looks like every crazy rich dead aunt’s estate sale. You’ll find something there that you’ll be glad wasn’t willed to your sister.

The Eclectic Studio founder, Jeff D’Angelo, will feature handmade props throughout Bogart Court — including a display in honor of The Office outside Better than the Weekend’s HQ and a Jurassic Park exhibit and photo booth inside.

Before escaping to the remote Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park — through Jeff D’Angelo’s handmade props — here’s a reminder of why we need art in all of our lives from the artists behind the Eclectic City Studio:

Melanie DiPietro, Painted Wine Glasses by Melanie

“Expression. Not everyone communicates or comprehends the same way. I am a visual person, so colors, shapes, sounds, and movement all speak to me. There’s nothing else in the world that can compare to this type of expression. What a bland place the world would be without art.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Aubrey McClintock, A Daily Obsession

“Life is better decorated. My fascinators are meant to make people smile and are not to be taken terribly seriously. While not everyone is willing to wear a towering french fry sculpture on their head, they can still enjoy that such a thing exists and that there are people out there who will happily sport such a concoction.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Maddesen Paige Wright , DIY Dreamcatchers & Altered Book Art

“Art gives people an outlet; a field to be uncensored and irrevocably themselves.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Kristy Jamison, Two Tree Design Co.

“Our modern world is connected in ways that past generations could only dream of. Art helps us communicate, reflect on, and express our cultures and beliefs. Art can be a powerful, passionate tool that allows us to shout messages about politics and human rights issues across language and cultural barriers. Art — whether it’s drawing, painting, music, words or performance — can also be a meditative and healing outlet, releasing uncensored emotions in a natural and rewarding way. Art feeds our economy and enriches our lives.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

Jeff D’Angelo, Jeff D’Angelo Design Group

“Art is truly the purest form of creative expression. People can use art to make their mark on the world and, in turn, promote further growth and interaction with others.”

Photographed by Justin Adam Brown, Better than the Weekend, August 2018

More information on the artists and their First Friday Scranton visit at Bogart Court can be found here.

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