Be Social — It’s called social media for a reason. It’s in the name. Sometimes to build an audience or to create engagement YOU have to engage with others and be active. In a genuine way of course. Build relationships, network and actually talk with your fans/followers.
As a part of our series about leaders who are using their social media platform to make a significant social impact, we had the pleasure of interviewing Terrell Wade.
Terrell Wade, aka TheWadeEmpire, is an actor, comedian, and content creator from Michigan. Wade currently has 1.3m fans on TikTok and almost 500k on Instagram. Wade has worked with top brands such as McDonalds, Dell, Hilton, and BET.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to being a Social Media Influencer?
Honestly, it was something that I just knew was meant for me. If you think about it, the term influencer is technically relatively new, really coming to prominence in the last decade or so. I was in college when social media started to boom and really take off. Facebook was king, Twitter was fun, Instagram and Vine were relatively new. Just seeing different memes and creative posts and videos out during that time, I don’t know I just had an epiphany that I could do this, this is what I want to do. I now have an outlet for my creativity that was dormant at the time, and that’s pretty much it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began?
Just one would be tough but this past year, I was invited to so many different events and conferences just based off the strength of my content. I was able to travel across the country to places I’ve never been before. I went to LA, Miami, New York, and Atlanta multiple times all for the first time last year. It really was eye-opening to me how far my content reached and how I was able to make an impact enough to even be invited.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, one of my first mistakes initially was getting caught shooting content at work on the clock. Starting out I wasn’t as discreet as I would have thought while shooting at work. I would do my best to be “sneaky” and avoid other coworkers or any mentions of my actual workplace in my videos. I even went as far as blocking all of my coworkers and managers, so they couldn’t find my page or even see my posts. It worked out for a few months but the one thing I overlooked was that eventually someone would find out, especially since my videos were starting to gain more exposure and traction. Long story short, let’s just say I’ve had a few meetings with HR about my antics at work and I’ve dodged being let go multiple times. What I learned from this experience is that I needed to be just a bit smarter and more discreet when shooting. Even if it meant coming in earlier or staying after work. This actually helped me be a bit more creative with my content which in turn helped my views and exposure.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Yes, do as much research as you can before doing anything. Read, network, and ask around. Try to prepare your mind as best as you can. Don’t just jump in blindly, have some sort of plan. Then once you feel confident and comfortable in what you want to do. Do it! Always do it! In my opinion, it is better to try it and fail, than to not try anything and wonder what would have been. Failure is a part of the process of hitting your goals, but giving up is the real failure. Know that it’s going to take time, but have fun with it. Try to emulate your inspirations, find out what works for them and what doesn’t. I know I’m scrambling but really everything just comes down to researching, networking and not giving up.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant impact by donating $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club?
Growing up the Boys & Girls Club was a big part of my life. My brother and I spent countless summers there, just having fun and meeting other kids in the community. I had so much fun every day. My experience was so great that when I got older I was able to be a staff member during my summers in college so that I could help give the younger generation the same experience I had. The giving was more of a full circle experience after growing up a member to actually working there. I wanted to take it a step further with the donation and help my local club in more of a financial way. I learned that my donation will support the club’s teen programming as well as an all-ages program focused on academic enrichment.
Was there a tipping point that made you decide to do this? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been wanting to do something for my community and give back for quite some time. The problem was just figuring out what I wanted to do. Although there are a ton of organizations and charities I could donate to and are definitely deserving, I wanted to find one that meant a lot to me. It just so happened that I saw a billboard driving down the street one day of the Boys and Girls Club and it reminded me of the many summers I spent there and how it impacted my life. Then it hit me that this would be a perfect organization to give back to. Overall I really just wanted to make sure that these kids could have a similar or even better experience than I did when I was a member.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Put more focus on the youth. Obviously, they’re the future and should be treated as investments. The more focus you put on them now can pay off great dividends in the future.
- Provide more safe places for kids and teens to spend their time, especially during the summer.
- Funding these places in low-income areas is just as important as in wealthy areas. Even a rose can grow out of concrete
Why do you think social media in particular has the power to create social change and create a positive impact on humanity?
The world revolves around social media now. Whether we like it or not, that’s just the way it is. When utilized the right way it can be a great tool to inspire others to make an impact. If we can provide more and more instances of positivity it will become more of a “trend”.
Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for social good?
Yes number one if you want to do something good, don’t wait just do it. You don’t need to have a ton of followers or be popular. Make up your mind on what you want to do and set out to do it. Everything else will fall into place. Try and research other accounts that are in the same space as you and see if you can collab on making an impact. Two is better than one and it helps with the exposure of using social media to make a difference. Have good intentions and never settle.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
These are some things I’ve learned over time and have now implemented.
- Be Social — It’s called social media for a reason. It’s in the name. Sometimes to build an audience or to create engagement YOU have to engage with others and be active. In a genuine way of course. Build relationships, network and actually talk with your fans/followers.
- Don’t limit yourself to one platform — Be an early adopter of new platforms. I was slow to get on Snapchat. I was slow to get on TikTok. I didn’t show Facebook or YouTube as much love as I should’ve initially and I only focused on Instagram. Although that helped me focus just on one platform, I was missing out on a ton of different audiences elsewhere and now I’m playing catch up. There’s a specific audience for Facebook, a specific audience for TikTok, and YouTube. Each platform has its pros and cons yes I get that but if I wanted to be a more complete content creator I needed to be active on each platform.
- Forget the numbers — A lot of the time we get discouraged about how many likes, views or comments we get. After doing this for a few years it gets exhausting to worry about it. The numbers will go up and down. It’ll never be consistent for a sustainable period of time. So just focus on staying consistent with your content.
- Roll with the punches and be adaptable — Social media changes fast. New platforms, new features, new trends. What might be funny now may not be in a few months. Stay true to yourself but be adaptable to change with the times.
- Have fun with it — At the end of the day, no matter what you post or how your content performs as long as you are happy with it, that’s all that matters. The more fun you have with it the better off you’ll be
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Outside of what I am doing now, bringing laughs to people in a relatable way. I think just being true to yourself and being a positive role model is what I would do. Having good energy and charisma would help draw people into doing the same.
Maybe more of a movement in relation to the workplace. To inspire people to not be so stressed about their job or coworkers. There’s always a better situation out there.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this!
Ha! I have several but I am going to go with Lebron James. He is my favorite basketball player and not only is he one of the greatest on the court but he also is an inspiration off the court as well. I would like to pick his brain on how he handles his own empire as well as talk about basketball.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I am on all social media platforms under the name @TheWadeEmpire. Feel free to follow and subscribe.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Social Media Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Terrell Wade Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.