USC grad turns passion into a career

Design by Alyssa Shao; Photo courtesy of Aron Cohen

Growing up, everyone becomes a fan of something. Whether it’s an artist or a band or an athlete, the bubbly energy of watching them often results in passion. That passion evolves into an obsession, and obsession into a determination to know every single thing about the certain passion. 

At the age of 14, Aron Cohen’s passion transformed into a lifestyle. A die-hard Los Angeles Laker fan, he started a fan page on Instagram with no social media experience. 

Nearly 300,000 followers later, Cohen has built a brand around his fan page “LakersAllDayEveryday” that any Laker fan can connect to. A 2021 graduate, he credited the Trojan family for his immense growth as it offered him more opportunities to land jobs in his career field.

Being a fan of the Lakers is common for kids growing up in L.A.. But Cohen desired to express his love for the team to the world. The Lakers’ global fanbase made it easier for him to grow his page into a powerhouse. 

As one of the biggest entities in the world, the Lakers are recognizable across time zones and bodies of water. Fans dedicate themselves to never missing a game and building rooms full of Laker gear. 

On the contrary, some are annoyed by their winning history or of their Hollywood culture. For Cohen, it’s the embodiment of success — he adores the Lakers more than the average human and wanted to share that passion.

“I [had] seen some other fan pages and stuff like that, not that many, but there were a few. And I was like, ‘I’m down to make my own,’” Cohen said. “It was not a sit-down thing where I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna make this page. I’m gonna have it for a long time then turn to career.’”

Whether it’s receiving a signed game-worn jersey from forward Anthony Davis or playing NBA 2K with former guard Quinn Cook or being gifted signed game-worn shoes from forward Montrezl Harrell, Cohen’s interactions with Laker players has been the stuff of legends. 

The name is no joke either. He posts content every single day. From highlights while a game is going on to previews of matchups to extensive free agency coverage, Cohen covers it all. 

But, it took time. 

Image courtesy of Aron Cohen

“The obstacle was that it was such a new platform”

Back in 2013, the world of Instagram was as grim as the Lakers’ future. After launching in 2010, the app was a mere afterthought among the juggernauts of social media. Users were fairly limited and Cohen said social influencers were nonexistent.

Cohen said it was a challenge growing a following with very limited resources available on Instagram. Just like other professional franchises, Cohen found a way to get his page out and resorted to a strategy many teens on Instagram did back then — asking other pages to follow him in return for a follow back. 

“That was literally the only strategy there was at the time. Because now you can pay for ads, promos through Instagram, influencers can pay, but at the time, there [was] literally nothing. So that’s what I was doing,” he said. “The challenge was very new. It’s just you got to spend a ton of time building from the ground up.”

Building from the ground up is exactly what Cohen did. Unfortunately, for him, it was during the worst era of Lakers basketball. 

When he launched his page in August 2013, the Lakers were in an odd place. The future of the storied franchise was in shambles with lots of questions about the future of the team. 

The Lakers had just been swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs. It was evident the tide was turning. Most importantly, franchise star Kobe Bryant was attempting to come back from one of the worst injuries in sports: a torn Achilles tendon. And Bryant wasn’t getting any younger. 

Cohen began doing something many Laker fans genuinely struggled to do: be positive. His content was less of ranting about the team and poor performances, and more about the bright side.

It’s a testament to who he is as a person. According to Cohen, he’s generally very positive.

“There’s a reason why I’m being optimistic because it’s not because I’m just saying it to say [it]. You got to be real with the followers,” Cohen said. “And that’s why I feel people come to know me as the positive person, the positive Laker fan. That’s the thing I kind of try to spread regardless of Lakers.”

From a couple hundred to 281,000 

In a platform overwhelmed with negativity, his positive energy made his content stand out like a sore thumb.

Even with the consistent positive outlook, no one could have predicted what would happen next for the Lakers — there would be no playoff appearances from 2013 to 2020 — just like how Cohen couldn’t predict the way his page would soon erupt. 

The follow-for-follow strategy continued for a couple of years until new promotion methods were created. 

A new strategy called shoutout for shoutout became common practice for Cohen. He would tell his followers to follow a page with similar interests with the other page doing the same to their followers. It led to an influx of followers for Cohen with even some former Laker players, like Cook, Lamar Odom and assistant coach Phil Handy, supporting his page.

Creating a following for the page though was as simple as being consistent with his content. The more Cohen posted, the more his interaction and following increased, even during a time where the Lakers were one of the worst teams in the league, winning less than 30 games each season from 2013 to 2017. 

“I feel like the reason why this page was successful through those years [is] because I was doing it for one reason only, it was literally just because it was a hobby. And it was something that I got joy out of and also people got joy from,” Cohen said. “It wasn’t because of money. It wasn’t because I wanted status. It wasn’t because of anything, [it] was literally just because I love the Lakers.”

His love for the Lakers is as clear as the L.A. sky in June. It’s what helps him stay relevant among countless fan pages that rise from the world of Instagram each season.

Cohen also said he wanted to make the page more of a community full of discussion rather than a news page.

“I’ve made my page a platform for people to discuss — the comments are always crazy,” he said. “There’s a lot of good discussions that go live all the time and get people really a platform to voice their own opinions, because everyone also wants to have a voice, people want to consume, and feel as that they’re part of something, but also they want to contribute.”

His dedication to creating an open community for Laker fans has paid off. More often than not, fan pages dissolve as quickly as they began. Cohen’s page is an exception. 

“People always ask me for advice on how to be successful on social media and build a following that cares about what you have to say, and post, it starts with being consistent,” he said. “You got to study the bigger accounts and the successful pages of what they’re doing and apply all that you find to your own page. But you got to be consistent.”

“[The goal is that] I don’t need to depend on any other sources of income aside from LakersAllDayEveryDay” 

The page started as a hobby, but Cohen quickly realized it could be a career by putting in immense time commitment.

“This is easily, easily a full time job if you take it seriously the way I do,” Cohen said. “Now that I graduated school, I don’t know how I was able to do it, just balancing my job, school and the Laker page because this thing is such a big time commitment.”

Aron Cohen, creator of “Lakersalldayeveryday” instagram page

What makes Cohen’s story bizarre though is the lack of training in social media he had when he started the page. His first professional experience with social media came three years after the launch of the page. Because of his page’s success, Adidas hired him to complete a winter project to test the Instagram market. 

Once he finished with Adidas, Cohen saw opportunities come in a flurry, with USC playing a massive role.

A startup sports company called Q4 Sports hired him to run their social media account for two years which he said was a huge learning experience. After Q4, Cohen transferred to USC from Santa Monica College and took over the men’s basketball Instagram account. The experience led to him becoming a student ambassador for Bleacher Report and assisting famed basketball trainer Chris Matthews, also known as “Lethal Shooter,” with his Instagram content. 

The most influential experience, Cohen said, was when he was hired as a social media intern with ESPN the summer before his senior year. 

Cohen was in charge of contributing to the various ESPN Instagram accounts such as NBA and NFL on ESPN. ESPN Senior social media specialist Dean Berhow-Goll managed him during his internship, recalling Cohen’s passion and energy and as “one of the best interns we’ve ever had.”

“He was eager to create; he had the experience with starting LakersAllDayEveryDay,” Berhow-Goll said. “And, really, he was just a fun person to work with everyday, just because he was so excited to be there. And he was so just full of energy.”

Cohen said his four months at ESPN were memorable. He was able to curate multiple Instagram posts that raked almost half a million likes. 

The position came to life from persistence and eagerness to become part of the team. He fell into contact with an important person too — ESPN’s Senior Vice President, Ilan Ben-Hanan, whom he met through Annenberg Professor Jeff Fellenzer’s class.

Ben-Hanan, a USC alum himself, is a frequent speaker at Fellenzer’s class and notices when students are more enthusiastic than others. 

Cohen was one of them.

“I was just very, very impressed [with Cohen’s page]. Obviously, a tireless work ethic, so enthusiastic, so authentic. And that stuff really shines through when you talk to him,” Ben-Hanan said. “He just has a knack for relationship building and being in the right place at the right time, which doesn’t happen by accident. That’s preparation.”

Cohen oozes with energy and enthusiasm unlike many. From the moment you meet him, it’s clear he has the most effulgent love for the Lakers.

When he celebrated their championship last year by popping champagne and yelling profusely in his backyard, Cohen went viral, with players and media finding his page. The passion pops out of his account, and it’s what makes him different from other fan accounts. 

As a recent graduate, Cohen’s dream is to turn LakersAllDayEveryday into a career. With how passionate Cohen is, it’s only a matter of time until it comes true.

“My main goal is to turn this into a full-time thing where my every day is I wake up like, ‘OK, what are we doing for LakersAllDayEveryDay?’” he said. “It’s not really working for anyone else. That’s the goal to make it simple.”