Here’s one way to get big-name celebrities to pay attention to you: Give them a platform to reach the masses. Particularly, the social media masses.
That has worked for The Shade Room, a media company focused on pop culture, particularly in the black community. The Shade Room originally started on Instagram, and it now has more than seven million followers on all social channels. It’s not a traditional outlet. You can’t read The Shade Room in glossy magazine form. But owning a social savvy audience has its perks, including luring celebrities, like Khloe Kardashian, to them.
This is what happened when The Shade Room reported on Kardashian’s former husband Lamar Odom, who was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel back in October.
“We have a very strong following, they’re called the Roommates,” explained founder Angelica Nwandu Thursday at the Code/Media conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, Calif. “Khloe felt compelled to come to The Shade Room and give us a statement. So it’s not your traditional exclusive … and it was the only statement that she made on that.”
Growing that audience isn’t easy, of course. The key, which sounds obvious but isn’t necessarily easy, is to connect with your audience right away, says Nwandu. And then get out of the way.
“I used to have my voice on the platform, and they kinda kicked me out,” joked Nwandu. “They were like, ‘listen, this not your blog anymore. This is our blog, we run this.’ It literally took on a life of its own.”
This is good advice, especially for someone like Matt Bellassai, a former BuzzFeeder who is taking his comedy show “Whine About It” and trying to build it on his own using platforms like Facebook.
“I view my time at BuzzFeed as a sort of graduate school,” Bellassai said while onstage alongside Nwandu. “I left with kind of that degree in viral media.” Hopefully he has a degree in audience development, too.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.