‘Being able to reach people’: Meet Aaron Dinin, the lecturer hoping to turn Duke into a national social media hub

‘Being able to reach people’: Meet Aaron Dinin, the lecturer hoping to turn Duke into a national social media hub

Aaron Dinin, Trinity ‘05 and lecturing fellow in the division of innovation and entrepreneurship, has a daring imaginative and prescient.
“My purpose is to put Duke on the map in order for you to find out about social media [and] content material manufacturing,” he stated. “If you need to find out about movie you go to USC or NYU, however in order for you to do social media content material manufacturing, you come to Duke University.”

Dinin has beforehand taught two programs centered round social media and content material manufacturing, and his so-called “TikTok courses” are spurring a social media frenzy. During spring 2023, his college students’ content material reached over a quarter of a billion individuals round the world, in accordance to Dinin.
A glance into Duke’s TikTok courses 
The first of Dinin’s courses, Innovation & Entrepreneurship 253, Social Marketing, offers a broad overview of social media, highlighting the “historical past and cultural lineage” of social media whereas delving into its moral implications. 
Innovation & Entrepreneurship 250, Building Global Audiences, is the extra superior course designed for college kids who’re already constructing a private model and often posting on social media.
Enrolling in I&E 250 requires teacher consent. Dinin’s major metric for figuring out admission is how constantly a pupil posts, somewhat than their follower rely. 
“It’s a lot simpler to take any person who’s acquired crummy content material and assist them determine how to make higher content material than it’s to take somebody who is not posting and get them to publish often,” he stated.

Through I&E 250, Dinin hopes to foster neighborhood amongst social media personalities at Duke, who could also be “outcast[s] round campus.” 
“The class helped me not simply make higher content material, but in addition join and collaborate with different creators,” stated sophomore Nicole Dave, a TikTok creator who took Building Global Audiences this previous spring. “Those relationships will certainly outlast the class itself.”
In fall 2023, Dinin will likely be educating a third course, referred to as Innovation & Entrepreneurship 295S, Arts Entrepreneurship. A partnership with Duke Arts and Duke Athletics, the course goals to introduce skilled content material creators to the manufacturing facet of social media. 
Dinin stated he’ll train the new course alongside content material creators for Duke Men’s Basketball, which has the largest social media following of all faculty sports activities. 

From English literature to excessive tech
Dinin has taken an unconventional path to academia. Equipped with a bachelor’s diploma in English, he initially envisioned a profession as an English professor and the subsequent “nice American novelist.” 
Shortly after graduating from Duke, he was accepted into an English language and literature doctoral program at the University of Maryland. Dinin, the self-described “worst grad pupil you may probably think about,” quipped that “they kicked [him] out with a Ph.D.”
Rather than turning into a novelist, Dinin grew interested by software program improvement, ultimately working in the know-how sector. Dinin taught himself to code as a result of he “acquired aggravated” counting on different individuals. 
Over the subsequent decade, Dinin based three venture-backed tech corporations. He additionally participated in two high-profile startup accelerators, DreamIt Ventures and The Startup Factory, In 2012, he was named a Microsoft Fellow.
“You can sort of train your self something,” Dinin stated. “That’s certainly one of the core messages I’d like to share to my college students in entrepreneurship.”
Professorship and content material creation
Dinin returned to Duke in 2018 after transferring again to the space for his spouse’s doctoral program at North Carolina State University. He started educating advertising and marketing courses for the division of innovation and engineering, drawing on his private background in entrepreneurship. 

“You can construct the biggest product in the world, but when no one is aware of it exists, it would not matter,” he stated. “So it seems advertising and marketing [and] being able to reach individuals is wildly extra vital.”
Dinin determined to enhance his credibility as a social media advertising and marketing professor by making an attempt to develop his personal following after he realized that he lacked the “means to communicate with any kind of authority” about how to construct an viewers on social media.
In simply a quick time, Dinin amassed almost 50,000 followers on Medium, a platform for long-form blogs. He now ranks as certainly one of the most adopted authors on the platform, significantly in entrepreneurship and enterprise. 
Dinin then turned to TikTok, the place he racked up over 37,000 followers and 6 million likes posting university-related content material. His most viral video has greater than 17 million views.
“I acquired this enjoyable rivalry with my college students as a result of each semester, I wound up placing out the TikTok that will get extra [views] than all theirs,” he stated. “The professor beat them out.”
Building a content material creation neighborhood at Duke
Duke is already house to a host of seasoned content material creators with massive followings. 
Senior Allison Chen has garnered greater than 300,000 followers on TikTok, the place she paperwork her life as a French pastry chef and cookie baker. Senior Natalia Hauser discovered her area of interest making way of life movies, amassing almost a quarter of a million followers on TikTok. Meanwhile, smaller creators like juniors Sarah Muzzy and Catherine Esrey have gained followings by documenting their lives as faculty college students. 
Student-athletes have additionally made use of TikTok to develop their public platforms. Women’s basketball participant Emma Koabel, a sophomore, is nearing 700 thousand followers on the app, whereas males’s basketball participant Jacob Grandison, a graduate pupil, amassed 48 million views on a single video. Emily Cole, a senior on the monitor workforce, has greater than 300 thousand TikTok followers regardless of her sport’s smaller public profile.
Dinin hopes to domesticate neighborhood amongst social media personalities at Duke past the classroom. In the fall, he’ll assist launch the Creator Lab, “a gathering place for college kids interested by content material creation.”
“We’re simply sort of making an attempt to create a neighborhood that has advantages for creators on campus, whether or not that be unique audio system to are available in for creators to attend … and even personal dinners hosted by I&E,” stated Hauser, who sits on the lab’s government workforce.
Dave, one other government workforce member, added that the final purpose is to create a bodily area for content material creators, which could take “a few years” to implement. 
Above all, Dinin sees content material creation not simply as a profitable alternative for college kids, however as a service to society.
“We have moved into an age the place the approach you get your data of the world is by way of platforms like Instagram and TikTok and LinkedIn,” he stated. “If you’ve individuals curing most cancers, there also needs to be individuals ensuring the world is aware of that we remedy most cancers.” 

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Mia Penner
| Associate News EditorMia Penner is a Trinity sophomore and an affiliate information editor of The Chronicle’s 119th quantity.


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