New club focuses on social media influence

Markian Benhamou, photographed by Austin Paik | Daily Trojan

With the expansion of social media, new tools and marketing conditions are now playing a large part in promoting brands, organizations and individuals. Reach, a new student organization focused on social media and online networking, aims to help those interested in these social networks by creating a space for influencers and digital marketers.

Markian Benhamou, a sophomore majoring in business administration, founded Reach because of his social media experience. As a social media influencer with over one million followers on Facebook, Benhamou realized that USC lacked a social media community — and he sought to change that.

He conceived the idea of creating Reach during Spring 2017 and planned its debut throughout the summer with the help of a small team. He believes Reach has the potential to expand and eventually become the voice of USC.

“Social media is a huge part of most [business to consumer] companies, and it’s been a completely new trend so I think it is crucial to have such a community here,” Benhamou said. “So, I talked with a few of my friends who are also passionate about social media and wanted to create this first organization here.”

One of Reach’s team members is Xavier Di Petta, a junior majoring in business administration, who leads the digital marketing side of Reach. Di Petta’s role is to bring in Los Angeles’ best digital marketers and advise Reach members on a variety of projects. Di Petta has also been involved with other organizations at USC like Society 53, Spark SC and the Expat Society.

“I really like getting involved on campus and being in different clubs,” Di Petta said. “When Markian presented me with the opportunity, I thought it was a fantastic idea and I wanted to be a part of it regardless. There are really two sides to social media; it is influencers and digital marketing.”

Di Petta has gained experience in the digital marketing field through freelance projects, working on mobile applications and raising $2 million for a startup. Apart from his involvement with multiple USC clubs, he is the founder of Well&Well, an agency that handles digital marketing for large brands.  

Reach team members plan to host workshops to teach members about how to build a following, manage Instagram pages, create viral content and market themselves as influencers. These workshops will feature guest speakers such as viral expert James Shamsi, along with social media influencers like Yes Theory, Nas Daily, Gabe Erwin and growth hackers like Jonathan Gaurano.

Matt Dajer, cofounder and producer of Yes Theory, expressed excitement about Reach and saw it as a platform for USC students to get a step ahead in the world of social media.

“When we were in college, we wish we had had resources other than the internet to help us learn skills around social media,” Dajer wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan. “Digital is the future and influencer marketing will soon be a billion-dollar industry. If making online content is something you’re passionate about, then [this] kind of club is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Reach will help its members develop necessary skills during workshops, where they will work together on projects and ultimately try and build something that could potentially go viral. They also plan to organize social mixers for the members to network and establish connections with one another.

“We will have projects where we get everyone in the organization to build something together, whether it is Facebook skits or a viral video at USC,” Benhamou said. “In the end, we just want to make it a family-like community and build a strong relationship with everyone.”

The head of operations for Reach is Anirudh Kaushik, a sophomore majoring in computer science and business administration. Kaushik’s role is to facilitate the events that Reach will be organizing throughout the semester and give its members the best experience they can get.

“USC is in a prime location for such a club with Hollywood near it and Los Angeles is basically where there is a high concentration of content creators,” Kaushik said. “And with Markian’s reach into these communities, [we] can bridge that connection between existing influencers and upcoming influencers at USC.”

Additionally, the club also plans on focusing on outreach within the University and creating a positive public image.

“It is our first year, so we want to make sure that our impression … would be a good, strong one,” said Selina Lee, Reach’s community outreach director.