Social media has evolved immensely over the past few years. I recall going to an internet cafe before the days of BBM just to spend half an hour on Facebook because my phone didn’t really have internet access.
Now there is the app. Messanger when you can make video calls.
Reddit is an online community that I access often and somehow even managed to make a friend all the way in the USA, who I talk to on yet another app.
Snapchat where you can put little faces over yourself and send them to anyone you like.
And then there is the infamous Instagram.
As a model, I have been trying to reach my fame on there for quite some time but my photos never really got more than 30 or so likes. I do like to do boudoir shoots so some of them are a little risqué which is why mine is under a pseudonym.
But as a millennial I based my self-worth of the poor amount of followers and likers. I was fortunate when I did a shoot with a friend who had over 10 000 followers. She tagged me in two photos on her profile and many of her followers came to my page. I quickly went from about 100 all the way up to about 300 or 400. I had to turn off my notifications eventually.
Thus it was with a new lease that I approached my Instagram once more.I used more hashtags. I documented my trip across Europe in which I spent much time taking selfies. And still my numbers rose very slowly up to about 500 or so.
A friend of mine then gave me some advice that changed my account forever. He recommended that I look at various profiles and use similar hashtags. He told me what people are looking for, what my assets were, when to post and what hashtags to use.I tried slowly and got all the way up to 600 while making the effort to like a whole bunch of accounts similar to mine. For some reason I started getting a lot of Russian followers but that is fine by me- I might be big in Russia and not know it!
After posting not so long ago, I was approached with my first shoutout. Unsure of what he was asking I just sent him a photo of myself not knowing that I had to do one with their name in it.Eventually I got it right but my message cropped the picture weirdly. His response kind of put me off trying though. He told me to pull the zipper of my top down and make it sexier and I just started feeling awkward and said thank you very much but unfortunately I had no time and had to go. Surprisingly he posted the crappy one anyways but it didn’t get too many likes. A week or two later I got another DM. Just thinking about it makes me cross and this is where I would like to give out advice to any aspiring Instgram models. He asked me if I wanted a shoutout and asked for a fan sign. I took some pretty cool photos and then he asked for something a bit more sexual. Once again I felt a little uncomfortable. Especially since they posed as a girl but the response you are “smoking hot” tipped me off that they weren’t who they claimed to be. With the promise that they would post my photo, they then tagged me along and finally came out with their last request.
“I can get you over 5k followers a day if you just send one more photo. Only without the bra.”
That was my limit. I don’t want fame like that. I said no thank you and they never did post it. I am tempted to name and shame but I have just taken it as a lesson.
There are lots of creeps out there so be wary.
The thing about social media in 2017 is that we have far less inhibitions. Girls do a lot more for Instafame and it is pretty easy for guys to manipulate girls into doing things that they wouldn’t normally do. So before you head down that road, be sure to set a personal boundary for yourself. Be wary. Double check profiles and make sure they will stick to their word.
My most recent shoutout request turned out to be a great one. My friend tagged them and they looked into my profile, DM’d me with a photo off of my profile and seeing that they were local and their photos were a little classier than the previous two, I decided to give them a chance. I sent through a professional photo which they posted on their page and within minutes I started getting followers. I am on close to 800 right now and have also received multiple message requests.
Most are guys just telling me I am beautiful and saying they want to get to know me. I thank them politely and tell them I have a boyfriend and that I don’t give out my number. They are generally very sweet about it and it is quite flattering too.
I have also been offered some shoots though they are Cape Town based and I am in Joburg. This encouraged me to think about my limits there too. Generally any bouidor shoots I do are with friends or photographers I know so I would be hesitant to just shoot with anyone. I do a little bit of stalking to see what kind of work they do.
My experience as a model and a model booker has taught me to be far more self aware. I know that this is an industry where girls can very easily be manipulated which is why it is so important to set your limits. Don’t just say yes to anyone who has a camera and calls themselves a photographer. If you do agree to shoot then make sure that it is in a good area, you feel comfortable and state upfront what you are and are not OK with.
Do not be afraid to say no if you feel uncomfortable with doing something. It is your body and they can only go as far as you consent to. Make sure someone knows exactly where you are at all times.Personally I very carefully select who I will let photograph me and even if I miss out on some opportunities, I would rather be safe and know that I stayed true to myself.I am not yet on the level of selling fit tea but one can only hope one day :)