Avenues for fame have greatly opened up in the digital entertainment age. Fifteen years ago “YouTube stars” didn’t exist, now Forbes publishes an annual list of the ones who are the highest paid.
Instagram has given rise to a different kind of celebrity: people — mostly attractive young women — who travel the world and document it all in pictures on the platform. Many of them, The Atlantic reports, get to stay for free in exchange for the social media publicity.
For example, Lisa Linh “quit her full-time job to travel the world and document it on Instagram,” a few years ago. Here is a typical post from her account:
That’s the standard procedure: a nice picture, a link to the resort’s account, and a hashtag for the venue as well. Linh has around 95,000 followers on Instagram, which provides some nice exposure for the resort.
This phenomenon has apparently now given rise to people who sense an opportunity and are trying to become “influencers” despite the lack of a real social media presence.
The Atlantic says that now “an onslaught of lesser-known wannabes has left hotels scrambling to deal with a deluge of requests for all-expense-paid vacations in exchange for some social media posts.”
An Instagram celebrity B-List, if you will.
Kate Jones from the Dusit Thani resort in the Maldives says that they are getting “at least six requests” every day from the wannabes, who are trying to get a lengthy stay in exchange for doing “two posts on Instagram to like 2,000 followers.”
Brand consultant Jack Bedwani says it is easy to “sort the amateurs from the pros” because, “The vast majority of cold-call approaches are really badly written. It sounds like when you’re texting a friend inviting yourself over for dinner—it’s that colloquial.”
I remember in the early days of Twitter when opportunistic people were calling themselves “Twitter influencers” when no one really had enough of a following — or even an understanding of the platform yet — to be seriously considered one. It was sort of a Wild West atmosphere then.
This new breed of uninfluential influencers face a more formal path these days, as some hotels now “have attempted to standardize the process by requiring detailed influencer application forms,” and others keep data bases of those they’ve worked with who are trusted.
There are simply no shortcuts to stardom.