The Mandatory ‘Fake Famous’ Guide to Building Your Social Media Empire
Influencers. They’re the people we love to hate. Secretly, though, we’re insanely jealous. Imagine making a living by posting selfies, trying out products, traveling, hitting up events, and otherwise living your fabulous life on social media. OK, so it might not be as picture-perfect as it seems on the internet, but we’d still trade our day jobs for a taste of Instagram fame.
How does one get to be an influencer anyway? That’s the question journalist Nick Bilton tries to answer in a new HBO Max documentary called Fake Famous. In this filmed social experiment, Bilton follows three 20-somethings – actor Dominique Druckman (@dominiquedruckman), designer Chris Bailey (@chrisvsmyself) and executive assistant Wylie Heiner (@wylezzz, 2,528 followers) – as he attempts to transform them from mildly popular into trending influencer. (And is successful with at least one of them.)
You, too, can become “fake famous.” It just takes a few tricks of the trade, and we’ve rounded them all up for you. Follow these tips, start posting, and watch your follower count explode.
Cover Photo: HBO
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Define your brand.
There are over 140 million people who have over 100,000 followers on Instagram. How will you differentiate yourself from them? Narrow your focus and stick to it. If you're the king of laundry hacks, don't start posting about your favorite Chinese takeout spots.
Get a makeover.
Your everyday look won't work for influencer status. You may be a 10 in real life, but on Insta, you're a 2. You're going to need a ridiculously expensive haircut, plastic surgery, liposuction, chemical peels, SPANX, and all manner of artificial, painful procedures.
Take a gazillion selfies.
No occasion is too small for a selfie. Coffee selfie! New outfit selfie! Walking the dog selfie! Bidet selfie! (OK, maybe not that one.)
Invest in photo shoots.
If you do nothing else, do this. Quality photos are the difference between success and failure on social media. Subjects in Fake Famous dropped anywhere from $50 for an hour of shooting time in a private jet to $650 for a day's worth of snaps at a mansion.
Social media works on unfair algorithms that take what’s already popular and give it a boost. The more followers you have, the more you’ll get. So how do you get followers? You buy them. Click farms exist and there’s no shame in using them. Bilton spent almost $15K for 300 different bot services on his subjects’ accounts.
If someone (who looks legit) follows you, follow them back. It's good social media etiquette. Nobody said you couldn't mute them, though.
Interact with your fans.
Reward those who bother to comment on your posts with a little interaction from time to time. It'll make your account feel more intimate and will encourage other followers to chime in, too. Engagement is a key metric to social media success.
Tag everyone and everything.
It's called social media for a reason. So get out there and tag away. When you collaborate with other influencers and brands, you get not only your fans' eyeballs, but attention from the other party's followers, too. Double your pleasure, double your anxiety about what other people think about you.
Hawk those products.
Once you reach a certain level, companies and brands will be reaching out to partner up with you. If the price is right, by all means, start doing sponsored posts. They're the Wheaties boxes of the modern influencer economy. And, hey, you get free stuff (though most of it is probably stupid).
Sell your soul.
Most people, when they're on their death bed, won't say, "I wish I had spent more time on Instagram." But you, dear influencer, will be filming your own death for an Instagram story and hoping it will trend posthumously. Ultimately, to win at social media, you have to sell your soul.
Enjoy your fame...while it lasts...
Congrats! You succeeded. Enjoy what little notoriety you gain because if we know one thing about fame (real or fake), it's that it won't last long. Then you'll be thrust back into the regular job market like the rest of us, only you'll have a huge gap in your resume where you were busy being an influencer (which will impress exactly no one).
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