UB student Brandon Mendelson discusses his success in the virtual world
Brandon Mendelson’s Twitter following grew from 10,000 to more than 100,000 in just a couple of weeks.
Mendelson, whose account is now verified and has over 700,000 followers, is currently a graduate student at UB working on a master’s degree in higher education and administration. He’s even published a novel on social media, called “Social Media is Bullsh*t” which he said is a provocative look at social media that dispels the hype and explains the ins-and-outs on using the Internet to expand one’s business. He informs readers on the power of social media during the growth process of a new brand, but he also emphasizes that a big follower count is nothing without quality real-world connections.
This past summer he wrapped up a three-year trip abroad that included several keynote speeches and a debate at the United Nations with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.
Mendelson, who is now 32 years old, grew up in Long Island, New York and attended SUNY Potsdam for his undergraduate degree. Mendelson met his friend Jackie Bintz while working for their college radio station, WAIH 90.3 at SUNY Potsdam.
“[Mendelson] is the black sheep in the modern media world with a cunning mind for truth and seeing through corporatist bullsh*t,” Bintz said. “He is dedicated to helping those being mislead about advertising and marketing.”
In 2009, Mendelson and his now ex-wife embarked on a tour across the United States as volunteers for the 1in8 Foundation, which promotes early cancer detection by educating high school and college students on being tested for cancer. The foundation also helps fund hospice services throughout the country, according to their website.
Mendelson went on the 1in8 tour twice and spoke in various cities about breast cancer detection. Both times, he attempted to base his efforts off social media.
“Most people were like, ‘Social media is amazing, we’re going to build this entire tour on social media,’” he said.
The first time Mendelson embarked on the tour, he took advice from both the foundation and tour directors. When he arrived in a region or city, he would get the word out about the foundation through Twitter. He urged people to keep up with the tour by following him to get more information the more the foundation developed.
That was when he found his niche and has been working in the field of viral marketing ever since. He realized it doesn’t take one million followers to be “Internet famous.”
When he tried the tour again, he truly discovered the power of social media.
“[On the contrary to other] social media gurus, all you need is a small, interactive and engaged audience to up your Twitter follower count,” Mendelson said. “If you are interactive and engaging back, the followers will come streaming in.”
Since then, Mendelson has worked with countless upstart companies and foundations, most of the time as a marketing and advertising consultant. Mendelson has also landed a position on Twitter’s suggested user list.
Mendelson works with small companies, showing them the most efficient advertising strategies. He is currently an advisor and marketing consultant for Serial Box Publishing. CEO and co-founder Julian Yap described the service as “the HBO for readers.”
Serial Box Publishing releases episodic seasons of a story in an audio or literary format. Mendelson met Yap through a representative of LeadDog Marketing group, a marketing agency whose clients include Citibank, Chipotle and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). LeadDog was brought in initially to outline a profile for Serial Box’s aim in marketing, including finding its target demographics.
Yap said he was blown away by Mendelson’s ability to set his motives in motion.
“I think he’s been great,” Yap said. “It takes a very special sort of mindset to be able to think extremely tactically like he does.”
Yap said when dealing with big companies that have millions of dollars to throw around, it’s easy to market. But a small company is lucky to have $10,000 to spend on marketing.
“Someone like Brandon, someone incredibly tactical, incredibly crafty, incredibly able to take an analytical approach, has been extremely helpful in our growth as a company,” Yap said.
Mendelson is currently working on his next book “How to be (Internet) Famous” while taking classes at UB. The book is going to begin where Mendelson left off in his previous book. He is going to “patch up some holes” and specifically emphasize the “how” part of becoming Internet famous.
The book has no official release date, but Mendelson expects to see it on bookshelves by 2016.
During his time abroad, Mendelson also helped ghostwrite another book, which is currently untitled but on content similar to his own. Its expected release is in June 2016.
Evan Schneider is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.