Social Media Influencers: A New Way of Earning a Living?
Tia Forbes – a nineteen year old girl from North London, who has gained over 11,000 followers within 3 years of being on Instagram, gives details of what it’s like to be apart the social media world and what challenges and successes she’s experienced on her journey to become an influencer.
More than ever younger generations are now using social media to their advantage. Apart from helping you stay connected to people around the world, it is also now considered as a way to earn a living in today’s society. Whilst researching various social media platforms, I came across a recent survey conducted by Media-kix which read, ‘Instagram continues to be the most popular influencer marketing‘ and how ‘89% of marketers in the survey say that it’s the most important social media platform for influencer marketing‘. Thus, it has proven that the platform, owned by Facebook, has helped thousands to achieve both their dream job and earn money to put towards a future without the requirements of needing any qualifications or any specific preferences over the way someone looks – meaning anyone from anywhere can do it.
For those of you who are unaware of this rising opportunity (mainly those from the older generation), you may also not know about this new demand of how to make money. To shortly put it, over the past couple of years many social media platforms have risen in popularity. It has proven to be a great way to showcase peoples creativity and talent to the world and even celebrities like Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes were discovered from video-sharing platform YouTube and have used social media to boost their career. But I can imagine your confusion: why should I care about social media? Well, because more then ever social media has now become an important part of our everyday lives, no matter your age, and has become to most used form of communication in society. Therefore, I wanted to explore the impact it can have if used to your own advantage.
In this day and age, it is no longer required in society for people to physically go out work or have qualifications to become successful in life. Whilst new technology continues to change the world we live in, the newness of the whole idea has undoubtedly impacted and changed the way we view and behave in society throughout the years. Given this, I wanted to dive deeper and got in contact with a beginning ‘social media influencer’ to get her perspective on what the industry is really like and the challenges and successes she has experienced.
Tia Forbes is 19 years old and currently lives in Tottenham, North London, with her parents and younger brother. She attends an Art and Design College in London and has a passion for fashion and loves testing her creativity through her artwork, but in her spare time does modelling and art. Alongside her main profile on Instagram (@tia.forbes), she also owns her own business (@trashfacelondon) where she designs and sells clothes and accessories, as well as digital drawn portraits of her fans and celebrities. When asked about her reason for creating her own brand at such a young age, she told me that: “most of my inspiration comes from my mum, who is a nail artist and has worked with various brands and celebrities” and her reasoning being, “I love her style and the designs she would create for her clients nails. It inspired me to create something of my own and the way I design my merch”.
Her journey 3 years ago into all of this isn’t what you would think; she wasn’t looking to be an influencer, she was like you, me or any other person on social media nowadays – posting random pictures of yourself for the fun of it, and as a way to create memories. When asked about her transition from 3 years ago to now she told me that, “it was just a normal thing for me, I would post pictures of myself at home or in public” and how “it was just selfies at first, but once I got more confident I started posting my outfits and I think I just started to gain recognition for my style as I didn’t dress like everyone else and just experimented”.
One thing Tia told me was that, she never imagined she would gain the amount of recognition she has, since “there are a lot of people out there online” and the fact that from doing all of this, it has changed her “outlook on life” and has helped her “make plans for the future”. This newfound popularity with online creators has risen over the past couple of years and has allowed for young people, like Tia, to use this to their advantage and work with brands who, in exchange for free products, then promote them to their thousands of followers online.
I was intrigued by this and asked her if she considered herself a ‘model’ and her aspirations for life beyond social media. Her response was hesitant but she replied, “I wouldn’t say I’m a professional. I’ve had a few brands and photographers contact me but nothing major, although I would love if I could get the opportunity to do anything like Vogue or London Fashion Week when I’m older” and how, “I consider myself as a free-lance model, as I mostly take and edit my own pictures for all of my accounts”.
For Tia, her popularity on the application has helped her also migrate to other social platforms such as: YouTube, Depop (a social shopping app where you can buy and sell clothes), and Twitter as an attempt to reach a wider audience. When looking at her platform, she told me, “I never really posted for any specific category” but “when looking at my insights on Instagram, I saw that most of my following were women and between the ages of 13-25” and how “I wanted to change that and be more inclusive to a wider audience, such as people who are a bit older and may not know much about social media”.
Although most of her posts relate to young women, she hopes to branch out and “grab the attention of older people and change their views of social media”. One of the ways she is trying, is to promote her business on Facebook and other older platforms (which have been around for a longer then newer apps) so that she is being seen by a wider audience.
But of course, like anyone else Tia’s time online hasn’t been perfect. Like every other person on social media, she has received some hate from people or “online trolls” as she calls them, who are known in the social media community as “people that harass and bully others on the internet as a way to distract and get a reaction out of a community for their own pleasure”. When asked about what it’s like to receive hate online, she answered “it’s not as uncommon as you’d think, it can happen to anybody, no matter your age or what you look like”. Tia continued, “I used to get really upset when I first received hate, but overtime I’ve learned to just focus on the positives which kept me going”. When discussing this, I mentioned about her ethnic background and if it played a part in the way she was viewed on social media: “There’s this thing about social media which puts a lot of pressure on you. . . you feel like you should look a certain way based upon how our society is, and its always playing on my mind when I post a photo” but, Tia used this to her advantage and continues to help others who feel like they don’t fit in with social norms and if anything, shows that you can be yourself and still be a positive influence to people.
Check out Tia’s recent YouTube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njk7tT68fdI&t=1s