If you want to become good at something, what do you have to do? Put in the time. Social Media is the same way, and you’re going to need to allocate time to do it daily.

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Cassie Petrey.

Cassie Petrey has been the woman behind some of the most iconic artists’ social media marketing including Backstreet Boys, Camila Cabello and Britney Spears. Cassie is the co-founder of Crowd Surf, a leading marketing and music management firm. She is an original fan girl whose ‘tween admiration for the Backstreet Boys led her at age 12 to create a newsletter that reached fans worldwide — then years later she helped seal the band’s decades-long superstardom by re-introducing them to next-generation fans. At age 17 as a college rep for Warner Music Group, Cassie was among the first in the music industry to recognize the vast marketing potential of nascent mid-2000s platforms Myspace and Facebook. Today, her company Crowd Surf has worked with tech giants Apple and Google, and labels such as Universal, Disney, Sony, Warner and more. Cassie is a Forbes 30 Under 30 and Billboard 30 Under 30 recipient, and she is a leading social media and artist management Hollywood powerhouse.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

I started off as a “fan girl” of the Backstreet Boys, and my career has slowly been built brick by brick from there. It was incredible being part of a fan community that ultimately made me life-long friends through shared concert experiences. The community was almost as addicting as loving the music and group. I became a serial superfan from there, going on to love all types of artists in different genres. This inspired me to want to work in the music industry, and be behind the scenes helping artists. They helped me so much over the years, and I wanted to give back. Helping artists and knowing their importance in our world is still what drives me today.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?

Nothing anyone does in life has anything to do with me personally. Every action somebody takes is about themselves. At first this can feel a little depressing, but once you have a full grasp on this realization, it actually becomes the thing that sets you free.

We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?

I’m just being honest and sharing a variety of aspects of my life — both good and bad. Life is a mixture, and I feel like social media should represent more of a mixture as well. It can’t all be about the good moments. Audiences have evolved and people are seeking more than perfection from the accounts they follow these days.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

Take the words “influence” and “influencers” out of your self-talk vocabulary. Don’t ever ask yourself “how can I influence more people?” but rather think about, “how can I help more people?” When you start thinking about it from this perspective, you start having more impact on the world because you’re framing it the right way.

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

It can really be a tough mental workout to see things in the right light. It’s a much heavier lift for some reason. Life and experience has definitely helped me to see things a little differently. Right now I’m working on making things a little bit simpler. If I helped one person that day, whether it’s an employee, artist, fan, or a family member… that day was a success. The world was a little bright that day because I helped somebody. If the world is a little brighter because of your heart, that’s a success.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

Finally being realistic about my personal limitations, and telling myself it’s ok that I’m not good at everything. This opens you up to being less self conscious about delegation. When you can delegate without fear, it opens up your schedule and life to who and what matters the most.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

I’ve been through a lot of really stressful situations that felt like “the end of the world.” Going through those situations and realizing the world was not really ending helped me grow as an executive, and as a human being in general. I think putting yourself through the hard situations and surviving them is one of the best ways to be able to handle future stress like a champ.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.

Rule #1 — Stories Spark Engagement.

One thing I love to do is compare social media to one of the oldest forms of media: the book. People read books simply because they love stories. Now, let’s compare that to social media. Each post you make on social media is a page in yours or your company’s book.

Now, if you start writing a book without knowing what story you want to tell, you’re probably not going to attract many readers. Social media is the same thing: If you don’t know what story you’re trying to tell, people probably won’t want to follow you and read what you have to say. Social media is a tool for you to tell your story. It’s the blank pages in a book that you’re writing.

Rule #2 — You Have To Be Social On Social Media.

Imagine you’re meeting somebody for the first time at a party. Let’s call this person “John.” John loves to talk about himself. When somebody asks John a question, he doesn’t respond. When somebody makes a comment, he doesn’t acknowledge it and just keeps talking about himself.

Many people use social media the way John acts at the party — they just talk about themselves. They don’t respond to comments. They don’t respond to questions or messages. They just make posts, and expect people to engage and like their posts.

But social media is a two-way conversation. You should spend more time engaging with other people than posting about yourself.

Rule #3 — Sometimes You Have To Start The Conversation

Let’s go back to that party with John. Let’s say you started some nice conversations with new people, and made a few connections. The next time you hang out with that group, you will know more people and your chances increase of having somebody start a conversation with you, rather than you having to start all of the conversations.

Social media works the exact same way. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations with other people. This might mean that you have to follow somebody’s account before they follow your account, or sometimes you’ll have to leave a comment on somebody’s post before they leave a comment on your post.

It also means that sometimes you’ll be ignored, and that’s ok. It’s all part of the process of building your community. Over time, as you make connections, more people will initiate conversations with you, and there will be less heavy lifting on your end.

Rule #4 — Be An Early Adopter

I remember when TikTok started to finally get popular with the general public in 2020, and so many people would ask me questions like: How did this person get so many followers on this platform?

There’s a lot of reasons why somebody gains millions of followers on a social media platform. However, one often overlooked factor is that usually those people were early adopters to that social media platform. It’s like investing in real estate before an area of town gets really hot.

Rule #5 — Dedicate Time To Spend On Social Media

If you want to become good at something, what do you have to do? Put in the time. Social Media is the same way, and you’re going to need to allocate time to do it daily.

If you start tackling social media by simply remembering to dedicate 20 minutes a day to it, everything else will start to fall into place. You’ll start to naturally pick up trends, learn about what kinds of videos to edit, and understand how to tell your story on the internet.

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

You need to be the ultimate party host. Talk to everyone who is attending your “party” and start conversations amongst your attendees. When you start comparing social media to real situations, it makes the actions you need to take so much clearer. At the end of the day, you just got to treat people like people.

As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great 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? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’m flattered that you see me in this light. I want to elaborate on a point I spoke about earlier, where I just want the focus to be on helping others. If we can shift how people think from “influencing” people to just “helping” people… we could see a lot of really amazing things happen in this world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I’ve always been a fan of Richard Branson. I love his roots in music, and how he expanded to so many different industries. He’s also a marketing stunt genius. The thing I admire the most though is his energy and attitude. He really has mastered seeing the best in this world, and that is just absolutely incredible.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Instagram @cassiepetrey and Twitter @cassiepetrey and follow my company Crowd Surf on Instagram @crowdsurf on Twitter @crowdsurf and Facebook @crowdsurf.

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!