Co-founder of the Hottest Social Media Talent Agency Talks Content, Collaboration and Creators of Color
Keith Dorsey is the founder and CEO of Young Guns Entertainment, the largest black social media talent agency in the US, which manages Collab Crib, an all-black content house based in Atlanta. Featured in the New York Times Presents: Who Gets to Be an Influencer, the docuseries looks at their "90-day blitz to rack up followers and win over sponsors." Meanwhile, Dorsey is currently paving ways in the world of talent and entertainment management with his creators who have a combined following of 200 million followers across all platforms. When the Hawks made the NBA Playoffs for the first time in three years, the team partnered with Collab Crib for original social content to create even more excitement for this historic post-season run.
Guest writer Maya Packer spoke with Dorsey as he prepares to give the Keynote presentation along with Hawks Sr. Director of Marketing Narcis Alikhani at the 2021 Social Shake Conference, designed to highlight the latest social media trends as they relate to Business & Strategy, Creative & Storytelling, and Platforms & Case Studies.
MP: What goes into creating a content house?
KD: First of all, you need content creators. You need a dope space that looks good when they make content. Also, you need the financing portion of “how is it going to be paid?”.
MP: Who is the target audience for Collab Crib and why did you choose to create content for that specific group?
KD: There really isn't a target audience, but most of my content creators’ main audience is anywhere from 15 to 30 years old.
MP: Managing so many different influencers and partnerships, how do you stay on top of what content is on-trend and appropriate for your audience?
KD: We’re always studying what trends are ahead at the moment. They're not just creating content, they're literally studying the algorithm. Sometimes you have to shift from the type of content that you're making to what the market is receiving. They're always looking and adjusting based on what's happening in the industry.
MP: Why was it important to you to create all-black content houses?
KD: There were so many other opportunities that were happening for the white content houses in LA. I was like we're missing out on stuff, and a lot of the ideas and a lot of the things that they were adopting from our culture, they were benefiting on big time. I’m talking millions and millions of dollars, and opportunities to live in million dollar homes. And I was like, Wait a minute.
MP: As you’ve probably heard, black creators are pulling back from creating original trends because they believe white creators may appropriate their content, taking it as their own and gaining the popularity and fame that should belong to the original creator. Where does Collab Crib stand on this issue?
KD: I think that was a major issue with content creators getting their content stolen. During that [boycott] period of time we were shooting a reality show so we really missed what was going
on with that because we weren't posting anyway. At the end of the day we have other opportunities and one thing that Collab Crib does not do, is they don't create a sob story. They create an opportunity for themselves to find a solution to the issue, which is working with other apps. Right now, we’re creative advisors for an app called Fan Base which is black owned.
MP: Why did you choose Atlanta as the base for the Collab Crib and Young Guns Entertainment?
KD: We had a really serious talk about it. Atlanta is where we’re from and Atlanta is the root of our lives. When it comes to black culture and Black Entertainment, Atlanta’s the Mecca. I said why not launch here and build a support system here.
MP: How is Collab Crib impacting the community of Atlanta?
KD: We have really been a hope and a light for other creatives to see that it’s possible in Atlanta. As well as being a part of the economy and creating a new economy in Atlanta for content creators.
MP: What did it mean for you to have Collab Crib collaborate with the Hawks?
KD: That was the best partnership we’ve ever had. To partner with the sports team that represents the city, it’s major. It also amplifies what we’re doing and the seriousness of it. It’s super
important to partner on that scale because, again, it shows other creators that it's possible to do something on that scale. It goes right along with the culture; The Hawks is rooted deeply in the culture of Atlanta and the Collab Crib is rooted in the culture of Atlanta.
MP: The Collab Crib, staying true to its name, has had partnerships with many brands along with the Hawks such as Nike/Jordan, the Warnock x Ossof campaign, Casper, Chick-fil-a, and Rolling Loud...why do you put such a focus on collaboration with other brands?
KD: In this economy, collaboration is the main thing to do. Things are changing the way brands and companies are working together. You know the name itself speaks for itself. We can just collaborate with brands and companies and utilize both resources. Just like with the Hawks, they had resources they wanted and we had resources they needed.
MP: What do you think companies and brands looking to connect with their markets should know about the world of social media, content houses, and influencers?
KD: First off, social media and influencers are the most powerful concepts in the world right now. People are believing and receiving information through content creators more than they are doing with traditional marketing. They have fans that relate to them, more than anything, so they’re going to believe their friend or their favorite content creator, more than they will just looking at a billboard.
MP: On your Instagram, you have discussed you and your creators being turned down by talent agencies and overlooked for creator events in Atlanta. What has it been like to overcome the stereotypes that possible partners associate with the Collab Crib because of the race of its influencers?
KD: It's like a breath of fresh air and it's like, look, we're doing this on our own. We turned down so many poor deals, and they don't expect us to. We went to Miami for Rolling Loud and we
paid $70,000 for a mansion in Miami out of our own budget. That is very fulfilling and it also raises our belief level that we can do more and more and more without needing these big agencies because we are the big agency.
MP: What differentiates Young Guns Entertainment from other more mainstream and established media/entertainment companies?
KD: It's genuinely real black-owned and it's run by the creators. We're revolutionizing something that was not there, so we're ahead of the curve. Traditional labels and agencies are trying to catch up right now. The only thing that we're missing is a big budget to be able to maneuver on a grand scale.
MP: What areas of entertainment do you see Collab Crib moving into as it grows further?
KD: We're really moving from this being a social media management company to really an agency-- a music label and entertainment agency as well. A lot of [the creators] are being booked for acting gigs, and we have a reality show now. We're doing stuff politically now. We're partnering with Kasim Reed with the next race coming up. Consulting as well because a lot of people don't understand social media and how it works.
MP: How did it feel knowing you had been tapped as a keynote speaker for the Social Shake Up conference?
KD: It was like, ‘Man, this is huge’. Now I get to speak in front of all these brands that I literally want to get in contact with. Now I'm about to speak to their whole social media department teams. It’s big, not only for me, but it's big because the problem is we don't get noticed. They don't know that we're here. Every company I've worked with always said ‘We didn't even know you guys were here’.
MP: As someone pushing content into the community, what does it mean to you to be “True to Atlanta”?
KD: How to stay true to Atlanta is you prosper what you are planning, you keep the economy here and you keep the economy flowing in Atlanta, as Atlanta has supported you. You keep [what] your building in Atlanta and that’s what we’re doing. True to Atlanta right there.