Shonduras is somebody that I've looked up to for a long time. Being one of the most prominent influencers on Snapchat, he has accumulated a following of millions across his social media profiles. In this episode of Music Industry Marketing, I sat down with him to discuss the future of the platform, and how to regain your motivation. Enjoy!
EDM.com: So first of all, thank you so much for coming on my podcast - I really appreciate it!
Shonduras: Of course. This is awesome!
So for the people who don't know who you are, just say a little bit about you & your path to success.
So I go by Shonduras. My profession is a "professional fun-haver". Casey Neistat gave me that name, I run a diversity of different businesses. It started out as just being a social media creator on Snapchat. I was doing loads of brand deals and had one of the first Snapchat accounts before the Biebers & Kardashians etc. I was the go-to Snapchat guy in the early days.
From there, I transitioned to YouTube and hit a million subs in a year. But I wanted to diversify more so I started a few more businesses. Now, it's a mixture of integrations: Helping creators & influencers work with brands in a cool way. That's Spacestation Integrations.
My other venture is Spacestation Gaming where we started an eSports organization. So we have 12 competitive teams that play all over the world. We also have some champions & streamers. I'm very bullish on the whole eSports & gaming stuff.
Definitely. It's an emerging space within society. Obviously, you've had a massively successful career so far. If you were to start over, is there anything you'd do differently?
Yeah. I'd get big on any platform in the world other than Snapchat.
But I love Snapchat and the creativity behind it. I love the 1-1 connection with the fans.
Oh for sure!
I really like it as a platform. But those who started on Vine or YouTube had a massive upper hand as they were massive number generators. You could gain a following a lot easier. Whilst with Snapchat, even being the biggest account on it is like the 100th biggest Viner in the world. That said, everything worked out so maybe I wouldn't change anything.
Yeah. At the end of the day, it allowed your career to pan out pretty well. As you said, you've amassed a massive following over Snapchat. So as this is a marketing podcast, I've gotta ask something marketing related haha. What advice do you have for people wanting to grow their Snapchat following?
Umm. So Snapchat is making some really exciting changes. So this podcast has some great up & coming news. We just had a creator summit which involved some of the largest creators on the platform. They're gonna roll out a more integrated partnership with brands, events etc in the platform. But instead of it being black n white where you'd work with either Snapchat or creators, it'll be more of a mixture. So you can work on branded content on the platform that's done by creators.
Oh wow! That's a lovely integration.
For sure. Hopefully, Spacestation Integrations will be a big part of that. And also, myself, Shonduras, as an influencer.
I've started upping my vertical content game posting more on my stories, and artwork a little bit. It's fun. It's exciting. It's like going back to the original Snapchat days which was really fun.
But to answer your question more fully, if someone wants to grow a following on Snapchat, they should focus on collaborations. Unfortunately, you can't create amazing content and just get recognized. You have to find other ways to grow: collaborations or being featured online in a permanent source.
You quickly touched on Instagram stories. Some people moved away from Snapchat due to the decline in their reach. Is that something you did?
Absolutely. I moved away because my numbers were going down & my reach wasn't the same. But Instagram answered some questions that all of had. eg. Insights, links, tagging friends etc. That's what hit Snapchat and made everyone jump ship. Snapchat is in a place where they need to fix everything or they will just go downhill. That's what the creator summit was all about. I think that this is their turnaround time, and I hope it works out well for them.
They're still in the top 10. They're doing okay.
For sure. They are still a force to be reckoned with. I think they were lacking a few features. But now they have them, we should see a climb.
I'm looking forward to that. Your career has spanned several years. So I assume you've had both high & low points. Do you ever lose your motivation?
I think everyone does now and again. Nobody is perfect. But if you're working on something you're passionate about, the motivation should still be there.
There will be days where it's harder to work. It's frustrating & you don't have those wins. But just hit the next day and have those wins. That's why I'm a professional fun-haver. Keep having fun & it all works!
That's amazing. What's the best way for you to remotivate yourself?
For me, I put on music and just brainstorm. What direction do I wanna go? What do I wanna change? I wasn't liking Snapchat at one point, so I brainstormed and decided to diversify to YouTube & Instagram. Then I thought about building up integrations and going after eSports.
For me, these brainstorm sessions are about what I wanna accomplish. If something isn't working out, there are thousands of other opportunities that could. Take every small opportunity you can, and turn it into a big opportunity.
eg. Here is eSports. I didn't have any special connections. I started at ground one with a small opportunity. We over-delivered and the team we were working with told all of their friends. And so yeah, I think if you take small opportunities and turn them into big ones, that's where all of the magic happens.
That's some really good advice.
What do you feel is more important? Quality or quantity of content.
I think they're both equally important. Quantity can help spark algorithms and get you in front of the right people. But quality is also important.
Every platform is very different. Like with Snapchat, quality wasn't an issue for me as my best & worst posts got the same amount of views. So that's where Snapchat was different.
But with YouTube, you can pop if you create good content. That's what I did when I started. Even with that, the quality of my content doesn't really matter with the views. It's a bit of a randomness.
You just gotta keep evolving. If your views are down, keep going & evolve to whatever the next thing is.
So are there any failures that you believe set you up for success?
Of course. I didn't go straight to YouTube. I saw people with a million subscribers and thought I'll never make it there. It was early days and I already thought it was over. But I went to YouTube 3 years later and it worked. So never say never.
Originally, I thought YouTube would be too hard. So I thought about doing Twitch. Tried that for 6 months and it never went anywhere. But I got verified and learned how to handle myself on a live stream. I learned a lot from it even though it wasn't successful. Spacestation Gaming wouldn't be the same without my prior failure with streaming and learning the landscape of it.
Everything you learned was transferrable to what you're currently doing.
I think so.
So is that your favorite failure that you learned from?
My first business was a skateboard/snowboard shop. It was my passion and it felt really cool to do it. But ultimately, it wasn't successful. Online business was crushing it and so the traditional skateshop business model didn't work. I learned that the hard way. But it set me up for the future so that everything I did was online. I needed a structure that wasn't reliant on people physically walking into a shop. That set me up for everything after that.
Nice! It's a case of going where the consumer's attention is. Whether it's Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch, wherever. So we're gonna do a quick rapid-fire round. Here we go:
Pizza or Burgers?
Pizza. I say that because my daughter is obsessed with it. It was a dad answer haha.
New York or LA?
LA for sure. New York is busy. Actually, I'm gonna change my answer. I'm gonna chose Utah. Can that be my answer?
Yeah, go for Utah!
It sounds cool & it's unique.
The most influential person in your life?
My business partner Sean Holladay. He's taught me so much and I don't make a decision without him.
Favorite place in the world?
Ummmm. I had a corny answer. That's home. I travel so much that I love being home with my family. But the answer that everyone wants to hear is a place called Cinque Terre in Italy. It's 5 absolutely beautiful cities along the coast.
Lovely. The most embarrassing moment so far?
I have so many. But I film my life every day. Every mess up is on film. In the past month, I've ripped my pants on camera about 3 times.
Last one. What are you most grateful for right now?
My team. I built these businesses around me & my brand. I needed something more scalable so I built a team. We have editors, guys on integrations, people running brand deals. I wouldn't be anywhere without them.
Earlier, we spoke about how I stay motivated. It's because I have a team behind me. If I had to do all of this myself, I'd be so frustrated with failures. It would be so easy to throw in the town and take a break. But when you have a team behind you, even on the days that I'm struggling, my team is winning for me.
That's great. This is a question that I ask at the end of all interviews. If the world was to end tomorrow, what would you want future generations to remember you by?
DANG. I would want people to remember me as a professional fun-haver. An awesome business guy with tonnes of hustle. But also, a really good dad.
That's great. Really great to hear! Thank you for coming on the Podcast.
Of course man!