On average, Hannah Bortz posts on Instagram every other day and usually receives about 500 likes per post. Her highest-liked post received close to 2,000 likes and she currently has more than 14,000 followers.
After interning with Chubbies Shorts this past summer in San Francisco, Bortz, a senior studying specialized studies with a concentration in journalism, communication studies and recreation, said she received a large influx of followers.
“I think with any form of sudden notoriety, sudden celebrity, it’s bound to cause a person some kind of psychological adjustment,” Karen Riggs, coordinator of the Scripps College social media certificate, said. “Sometimes that has to do with an unrealistic bump in self esteem. Sometimes it’s validation that might be well deserved and earned.”
However, when it comes to the way celebrities are created through social media, Riggs, who is also a professor in School of Media Arts and Studies, compares it to a roman candle.
“It is fame that can come quickly and go quickly,” Riggs said. “There’s a pressure there that people feel internally to keep up that fame, generally speaking.”
Mark Dohner, who spent three years in Athens studying journalism and is graduating in the spring after finishing classes online, began making videos of parties and fests when he attended OU. While attending OU, he met his current roommate, Logan Paul, a famous Vine star who also attended OU.
“I can attribute most of my following to other people,” Dohner said. “Making fest videos was the first time I ever picked up a camera and edited it. I kind of have a knack for it.”
Dohner has more than 45,000 followers on Instagram and more than 8 million vine loops. He also has more than 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Earlier this year, Internet celebrity Essena O’Neill gained attention after announcing she was quitting Instagram. She deleted a large amount of photos off her account, and replaced the captions of the photos she left with disclaimers about the fakeness of the photos. In some of the captions, she wrote about how she was paid to take the photo, and commented, “If you find yourself looking at ‘Instagram girls’ and wishing your life was theirs, you need to realize you only see what they want. If they tag a company, 99% of the time it's paid.”
Bortz said she has never been paid for any of the promotional posts she has done, but sometimes companies will send her free clothing items to thank her for her posts.
“I do it more just to get my name and the company’s name out there,” Bortz said. “If I like the company I’ll do it. I’m not going to act like I’m some big wig.”
The companies that have sent her free clothing for her posts are smaller businesses with about 20,000 followers such as Tipsy Elves. Bortz has never done promotional posts for really big companies besides Chubbies Shorts because she likes to support small businesses, she said.
Social media can also become a job for some people because proper impression management takes a lot of work, and if done correctly, it can turn into something bigger and more permanent, Riggs said.
“I think (endorsements) can lead to further professional opportunity,” Riggs said. “Certainly it develops a certain amount of local fame for you on campus perhaps, and that’s not always good or bad.”
Dohner said he gets emails roughly twice a week from products and apps asking him to endorse them, but has only accepted a gift from the company Happy Socks because he already liked the brand. However, he said he does not receive as many offers as his peers.
“I don’t think I’m at the point where I’m, like, big enough to be doing brand deals,” Dohner said.
Social media is currently a side job for Dohner, he said. He does it for fun, and his full-time job is being a freelance videographer.
When it comes to how Bortz styles her Instagram account, she compares it to blogging.
“I’ve always loved to take pictures and make colors pop out of them,” Bortz said. “My Instagram probably resonates with people because I travel a lot and I’m a real college student.”
When it comes to taking the photos for her account, Bortz mostly uses her phone as a camera and uses apps like VSCO Cam. She will enhance the colors of her photos, but she said she really does not edit them that much.She used to edit her photos more when she first started to use Instagram, but after looking at other accounts of people who heavily edited their pictures, she decided to make a change.
“I didn’t want people to look at my Instagram and be like, ‘That girl is so fake like she doesn’t look like that in person,’ ” Bortz said.
Dohner gets the most interaction from people on Instagram and Snapchat, but his most successful account is Facebook.
“I watched people make YouTube videos and getting famous, and I wanted to do that,” Dohner said.
Dohner mostly makes comedic videos because that’s what gains the most attention online, he said.
“Making stuff that’s relatable and funny is what gets views,” Dohner said.
Despite the large amount of likes Bortz receives, she does not always receive positive attention about her account in real life after she came back from her internship in San Francisco.
People started to treat Bortz differently and would yell her Instagram name at her when she went places in public, she said.
“(They) were just kind of making fun of me when I got back to campus,” Bortz said. “I’ve lost some friends from it, too.”
A lot of people are quick to judge the appearance of a person based on social media, especially for women, Riggs said.
“There are going to be people who are going to say some awful things to you,” Riggs said. “(Social Media) can be very helpful. It can be very humiliating. It helps to sort of let it go and play it off — it will go away.”
Dohner said a positive side to social media is bringing awareness to good causes and charities to his followers.
“It would definitely be awesome to turn that into a business, but right now I need to make money,” Dohner said.
When it comes to gaining followers, Dohner said everyone has to work their way up from zero.
“I think it’s easy — anyone can do it. It’s just, like, a matter of doing it,” Dohner said.