Interact with your followers — Responding back to your DM’s or comments is always important because it makes people think you are responsive and has them comment even more.

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 Matthew Wurnig of 50 Dates 50 States.

Matt is the creator of 50 Dates 50 States and before he embarked on this journey, he went to college at North Dakota State University and used his degree in sports management to land a job as the Director of Fun for a baseball team.

After a lot of time, energy, and effort into 50 Dates 50 States, Matt knew it was time for a new journey and decided to take it on full time. Matt’s mission is to continue to make people smile through his content and create opportunities for those who support him or have played a part in his journey.

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 just wanted to be creative and different and things just sort of fell into place. I kept throwing things out there to see what stuck and rolled with it when it finally did.

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

The most important lesson I’ve learned would be to believe in your ideas. You can create and do anything you want in this world. Just believe in yourself, don’t give up, keep moving forward and be patient.

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

I try to make people smile through my content. I started the 50 Dates 50 States brand with the intention of entertaining people during the pandemic and now I try to do it every day. It makes me feel good if someone can watch my videos and forget about the negative things going on and just be entertained.

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?

I’d say constantly try new things. If you throw enough darts at the dartboard sooner or later you’ll hit a bullseye. Also, be consistent.

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?

A lot of people view success in different ways. Money, fame, starting a family, buying a home, creating a business, etc. My goal is to get 50 Dates 50 States on TV or streaming service and when that happens I will feel successful.

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

Prioritizing is huge. I have to look at what’s on my plate and see what’s the most important and knock things out from there. It can get complicated with expectations from outside sources, anyone from followers to the people I work with, but you have to prioritize and organize what you think is best to move the brand forward. Trust yourself to know what’s important and do what needs to be done.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

In order to mitigate stress, I go for runs, walks, listen to music, go for a drive, or talk on the phone with friends and family.

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.

Create Promotions/Contests — During Season 1, I created a “Sign the Truck” promotion. This allowed followers to pay $5 in order to have their name written in red sharpie on the 50 Dates 50 States vehicle. This made them feel part of the journey since their name was written on the truck that traveled the US.

Make Polls — I’ll create Instagram stories that ask “Where should I visit” in each state, “what questions do you have for me”, “what’s the best road trip snacks”, etc. These things help your followers voice their opinions and make them feel connected.

Interact with your followers — Responding back to your DM’s or comments is always important because it makes people think you are responsive and has them comment even more.

Create Opportunities — In Season 2, I created the date application. This allowed girls from all across the US the opportunity to apply to be part of 50 Dates 50 States. We received over 10,000 applications in 2 months. People wanted to be part of the show!

Create Consistent Content — At the end of the day, your followers follow you because they value your content. Post or give updates every day so you never lose their interest.

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

Interacting with the people who follow you is key. Having conversations, liking their comments, responding to their DMs, and creating avenues for engagement will make people keep coming back. I wouldn’t be where I am without the people who responded to my content, without the fans and the people who watch every episode, and it’s important to acknowledge that and engage with them. Create that community by participating in it.

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’d probably say a movement for recognizing and rewarding the underdog. I feel that many underdogs, oftentimes, don’t get the acknowledgment that they truly deserve and I’d like that to change. It’s important to acknowledge the hard work and effort that goes into the work being done every day, even if that work isn’t on a national scale.

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. 🙂

Tony Robbins and Steve Harvey are two people I admire. I think they do a phenomenal job at spreading a message, telling a story, and connecting with people. Their interactions and communication skills with people are top notch and I’d love to learn from them.

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

I encourage everyone to check out to read about my journey and visit all my socials.

TikTok — @50dates50states

YouTube — 50 Dates 50 States

Instagram — @matthewwurnig

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