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Meet LaDarrius ‘LHUT’ Hutcherson, the Birmingham Social Media Brand Builder

LaDarrius Hutcherson, aka LHUT, went from a restaurant visit in the Birmingham area to a social media influencer with a growing number of followers. (PROVIDED)
By Sym Posey
The Birmingham Times

When Birmingham’s LaDarrius Hutcherson, aka LHUT, first put his content on social media, he became discouraged.

“Nobody was really watching,” he said. “After a while, I stopped doing it, then people would ask me what happened to my videos. It goes to show you never knows who watching.”

Turns out a lot.

Dubbed by many in the city as “The Keith Lee of Birmingham”—Lee is a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who gained millions of followers on the short-form video social media platform TikTok for his food reviews—Hutcherson has a growing audience on TikTok with his review of local Birmingham restaurants and activities. So far, he’s at 48,000 followers and growing.

In 2022, Hutcherson and a friend went to Ruth’s Place, a Black-owned restaurant in Irondale, Alabama, and what started as just a simple video of his experience quickly gained traction on TikTok.

“I was just going to a restaurant, and I recorded it just for my few hundred followers. I was just talking about my experience,” he said. “I posted it, and the next thing I knew, it was at 5,000 views. Then I looked again, and it was at 10,000 views. It kept growing, and before I knew it, I had people writing to me about going viral. I decided to keep going with creating more videos like that. Soon after, restaurants started to reach out to me.”

Gaining Traction

Hutcherson didn’t expect to gain traction on social media as fast as he did.

“Some things are just not in our plan. It’s all in God’s timing. I could not have predicted that restaurant on that particular day would be the thing that got me to the point where I am right now and the opportunities that have come to me because of that video,” he said.

It’s hard to put into words how drastically his life has changed since going viral. Hutcherson said: “I never thought about working with brands. I never thought I could do some of the things that I have done.”

Over the course of 2023, Hutcherson has worked with several different brands and programs. His most notable partnerships have included working with Walmart; being invited to Talladega Superspeedway, one of the nation’s premier motorsports racetracks, and Regions Traditions, one of the five senior major golf championships; and becoming the first influencer to partner with the Magic City Classic, the annual Birmingham-based football matchup between Alabama State University and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.

Still, with his many experiences and partnerships, Hutcherson always goes back to Ruth’s Place.

“The owner, God rest her soul, has passed since the video went viral,” he said. “Ruth’s, it’s like family. You know how it is when something has given you a sense of being nurtured or being poured into, no matter where else you go, when you come back to that place it feels like home. They always show me love, and I always show them love. I feel like I owe it to them because they are part of a pivotal moment in my life.”

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Home-Grown Influencer

Born and raised on the north side of Birmingham, Hutcherson always felt like being an influencer was “intrinsically” in him. An alum of Jacksonville State University (JSU), he studied business with a concentration in marketing.

“After graduating in 2014, I started working in the marketing field. I went back to [JSU] again to get my master’s, and in the midst of all that the influencer thing started to happen,” said Hutcherson, who started his LHUT TV channel on the online video-sharing and social media platform YouTube in 2015.

“It was before the word ‘influencer’ was even a thing,” he said. “You were either a blogger, vlogger, or a YouTuber. Nobody was considered an influencer at that time. I didn’t go into any of this with the mindset of being an influencer. I just wanted to document my life. I felt like I had done a lot. I felt like I had a lot to say and a lot to offer people who could potentially watch me.”

Hutcherson put YouTube on the back burner and continued to build upon his brand through the Facebook social platform, where he had a bit of a following.

“I went from the video format to typing my opinions on different things,” he said. “People would say, ‘Have you tired such and such? We want to know what you think.’”

Asked how he felt about being called “The Keith Lee of Birmingham,” Hutcherson said, “I think it’s a huge compliment. I used to feel like I wanted to be ‘The L Hut of Birmingham,’ but some things you just can’t run from. I used to run from the word ‘influencer,’ but it is what it is now. If people see me as that, what I have learned is you just have to live in things and walk in it.”

Hutcherson, a resident of Birmingham and an alum of the city’s George Washington Carver High School, added, “I love what I am able to do for the city of Birmingham … because we are not always seen in the best light because of some of the unfortunate things that take place throughout the city. I want to be a beacon of light for Birmingham and the potential we have. There is so much potential here, and I believe we can be a major city with major opportunities if we continue to make strides to combat the negativity.”

With the new year already underway, Hutcherson has big plans for 2024. “One of the biggest things I have planned for the new year is taking what I do on TikTok and bringing it over to YouTube,” he said. “I want it to be more like a series. I have a production team already. I also want to bring a food festival to Birmingham that I am the curator of and have it annually.”

To see more from LaDarrius Hutcherson, visit his sites on Facebook (LaDarrius Hutcherson), Instagram (@lhut­_), TikTok (@lhut_), and YouTube (@LHUTTV).