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Social Media Spotlight: 1.2 million friends and counting

Story by Tim Cigelske, Comm '04 | Photo by Skye Rossi

Leif Brostrom parlayed an internship as a Marquette student into a career launching and overseeing a massive social media following for one of the most successful independent record labels.  

"The Internet in Straz Tower and Johnston Hall is directly responsible for this," says Brostrom, who interned for Minneapolis-based hip hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment while on campus. The broadcast and French double major also credits Dr. Daradirek "Gee" Ekachai's PR classes with an emphasis on social media.

Today, Brostrom, Comm '10, is the company's social media manager and marketing coordinator. The label has more than 1.2 million fans on Facebook and was recently named one of the Twin Cities' top 5 Twitter accounts, according to the social media blog Above the Fold.

In explaining the ranking, the blog cited Rhymesayers' "incredible job of transcending the fan-artist relationship in such a crowded channel."

In an interview with Marquette Magazine, Brostrom talked about the growth of his audience, his advice for using social media and where he sees it headed in the future.

What's your biggest social media success story?

Our Facebook pages. In 2007 I was brought on as an intern after being on the street team since 2005. [The Pages feature] had just launched, and I brought it up to the chief technology officer at Rhymesayers. He told me to run with it and start building the pages. Working with my coworker (and now roommate) Jake, we built the pages and now have the incredible power to influence 1.2 million people between 28 pages for different artists, and that number goes up about 25,000 weekly. Rhymesayers recently hit 125,000 likes, and our flagship group Atmosphere is almost at 700,000. We have some of the highest numbers for independent labels and artists on Facebook.

How do you use social media for work?

I run Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and a few more accounts for the label and our artists, as well as our annual Soundset festival, which involves posting about shows, events, tours, single/album releases, music videos and more. Within the bigger picture, I spend time figuring out how to make things easier for us as a small label (six full-time employees and one part-time run the whole place, plus a store with three full-time people). We use sites likes ArtistData to sync event info between social media sites, Twuffer to automate tweets, and a handful of other services to do the tough work for us. We also use it to help our fans out with purchasing issues with tickets and albums. Because of this, we were recently named one of the Twin Cities' 5 most influential twitter accounts! [Editor's note: Jason DeRusha, Comm '97, also made the list for his work as a news reporter with WCCO-TV.]

Where do you see social media headed in the future?

As most of us can attest, our parents are on Facebook and Twitter almost as much as we are. I know the demographics get older nearly every month when studies come out — something that's pretty incredible. Either it's getting easier to use, or maybe they just want to keep tabs on us! Regardless, it defines the way our generation communicates with each other, and it's slowly redefining the way that our parents, grandparents and elders communicate.

What social media projects are you currently working on?

We just finished up a 16-day countdown to a new album, Grieves' Together/Apart, with a short video describing each track every day. We gained over 9,000 new likes on the page and over 10,000 shares of the content.

Do you have any advice for students, faculty and alumni using social media?

Share! See something cool? Share it with your friends and family. You'll probably make some new friends and gain new followers. Personally I share music and stories I think are cool and intriguing. For the label, we share our friends' and artists' products and events. It might seem a little dumb to say that — but lots of people just use social media to talk about themselves, and that's pretty boring. "Be The Difference" and share things outside of your comfort zone to learn more about the world.

More about Leif Brostrom

Age: 24
Residence: Minneapolis
Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.
Majors: BREC and French
Activities on campus: MUTV, Instructional Media Center, study abroad (Quebec City)
Fun facts: He was named after Leif Ericsson ("the REAL guy who discovered North America," says Brostrom) and has had two jaw surgeries. "I enjoy dentists like most people enjoy movies," he says. "All of my surgeons/orthodontists are instructors at MU's Dental School."
Favorite quote: "Il faut beaucoup de naïveté pour faire de grandes choses." (You need a lot of naïvety to do great things.)


Comment by Phyllis McCoy at Jul 26 2011 03:48 pm
Oh, we knew you when, and aren't we so proud!
Thanks for sharing, Leif. Was great to see you in person, too. Hope you had a great visit over the weekend.
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