Image: Instagram/zoepky & Instagram/azzura_daud
Being a social media influencer is not just all about popularity, gift reviews and a ton of invites to events. There’s so much more to it than most of us see.
While as an influencer, you might enjoy the perks (who wouldn’t want to receive gifts and attend glamorous events, kan
!?) having a big online following can also be tough. In the (not so) wise words of Rojak Daily
, with big following comes big responsibility.
So, to give us a glimpse into the life of a social media influencer, we got four Insta-famous influencers to share with us some of the struggles they face and common misconceptions people have.
1. @maeziele: ‘Being misunderstood’
Mae-Ziele Nyara Joseph is not your typical 19-year-old. She juggles studying along with a plethora of other things one might think only Superwoman can do: writing, modeling and emceeing – all while being the best mummy to her one-year-old son, Zack!
Mae’s Instagram feed is so down-to-earth, you wouldn’t believe she is just 200 followers shy of hitting the 19k mark. Filled with pictures of loved ones (we can’t get over how cute baby Zack is!), as well as flawless selfies and to-die-for shots from her photo shoots, she has over 1,000 Instagram posts that show us just how well she manages to balance work, family and fun.
"Being relevant is important; being someone people can relate to – that’s very important. You can only decide what to say or share, but the influence and interpretation is entirely up to your followers. There might be misconceptions about me, but I just have to accept that, being an influencer, they have become a part of my life story because I have no control over people’s interpretations. To be an influencer, one has to be prepared to be misunderstood
Mae understands that whatever she puts online will stay online forever, and she has fully accepted that there might come a day when it'll come back to haunt her.
"I share with my followers everything I want them to know. I am fully aware that there is permanence in whatever I share or decide to post online; that’s just part of being a social media influencer. However, I wish people knew that what I share about me is not fixed – I am changing; we all are. I keep it real, I keep it open."
2. @zoeypky: ‘Juggling social media life and reality’
Yummy food, beautiful vacations and super stylish outfits – Zoey Phoon’s feed has it ALL! It’s no wonder her following has grown beyond 25,500 Instagram users over the last couple of years. This 19-year-old blogger (FYI, zoeypky.com is the blog for all things travel and lifestyle), YouTuber, entrepreneur and overall cutie is as ambitious as one can get.
Having been featured in various magazines and commercials since a young age, the sweet-faced influencer is more than happy to share what life is like through her eyes; just check out her Instagram page and see for yourself!
"One of my biggest struggles being an influencer is juggling university and social life while having to constantly create content. Many people think influencers are all dumb blondes who just look pretty and take vain selfies for a living, when in actual fact we’re just like everyone else.
"We, too, have feelings, aspirations, goals and personal relationships. Creating content and posting things up on social media is just one of the many passions we have."
However, Zoey says that there is more to life than just being social media famous, and being Insta-famous shouldn't be an end goal.
"My advice to people who aspire to be influencers is to not take social media too seriously
. Always have room for the reality of things!"
3. @azzura_daud: ‘Keeping up an image and… getting indecent messages!’
This Malacca girl can easily pass off as Malaysia’s very own Selena Gomez: stunning, talented and capable, all in one! Azzura is a 24-year-old live band singer (check out her amazing vocal range on her Facebook page. Ever since she was 19, Azzura has been performing full-time at various four- and five-star hotels around KL. She looks up to Adele for vocal inspiration and when it comes to fashion, it’s not doubt that Selena Gomez is her style icon!
Apart from tugging at the heartstrings of her audience with her voice (while looking effortlessly chic, of course) Azzura aspires to inspire, encourage and empower all women out there. As a single mother of a beautiful 5-year-old daughter, Azzura wants to be of support to other women, especially when they feel under-appreciated.
"Most of the time, I like to send direct messages to my followers, just to give them words of encouragement and empowerment," she says.
But being an influencer is hard work, she laments.
"Amongst some of the struggles of being a social media influencer, one of the main ones would be having to look good all the time. Having to maintain my look and behavior when I’m out, so that I am who I am in real life and on social media. Gotta keep it real! Another struggle is the unnecessary attention I get from people who send me indecent content!"
There are also times when the content she puts up -- and even her very own Instagram profile -- comes under heavy scrutiny.
"Many people have doubts when it comes to social media influencers and the legitimacy of their followers. A lot of people think I’ve got fake followers (Azzura has 11.9k followers) – they think I buy them! If any of you doubts the legitimacy of an influencer’s followers, there are sites out there to check and confirm if someone has bought their followers. So, do that before you decide whether someone has real or fake followers. And, one other misconception a lot of people have is that we constantly just get free stuff! That’s not true at all!"
At the end of the day, Azzura wants people to know that underneath the glitz and glamour, she's only human.
"I make mistakes; I’m not perfect and I wish they would understand that. And if there’s one thing I live by – in the words of Kendrick Lamar – it’s: sit down, be humble!"
4. @noelineannabell: ‘Being unapologetically myself, and creating original content’
One look at Noeline’s feed and you can tell she’s the ‘boss babe’ many young girls aspire to be. At only 18, she co-owns the online boutique TealnGold.co, is the brand ambassador for up-and-coming makeup brand GlamX Cosmetics and is a beauty blogger-slash-YouTuber.
Noeline posts absolutely amazing pictures on her Instagram feed – we’re in love with her unbelievable makeup skills and killer fashion sense! Occasionally, she also puts up snippets of her YouTube videos, mostly on how she achieves different makeup looks. Noeline is the girl to follow, if you love a good pick-me-up, because her captions are often words of inspiration for her 8,500 followers: 'Get to the top so you can see the world, not so the world can see you’.
YAAAS, keep ‘em coming, girl!
Behind the spotlight, though, Noeline admits that sometimes, it's hard for her to be herself without feeling the need to conform to society.
"There are times when I feel like I’ve got to jump on the bandwagon – post everything that is trending for the sake of being relevant. But pretending to be someone I’m not just to stay relevant isn’t quite who I am. Creating content that varies form other influencers’ is also another thing I struggle with. I have been called out for ‘copying’ someone else’s work, when in reality, our creativities just happened to intersect!"
"One thing people should realise about influencers is that we aren’t some sort of celebrities in the social media world. We are simply regular people that have a passion to voice out our opinions and share a more aesthetically pleasing viewpoint to others.
"Also, people need to understand that we aren’t free loaders! We actually do assist brands in product development and marketing by providing authentic feedback and honest reviews," she says.
She adds that being Instagram-famous also opens them up to more and sometimes unnecessary hate.
"I wish that my followers, and everyone else for that matter, would see that I, just like every other regular human being, have feelings. Spreading hate is not okay. We’ve all got to work towards a more supportive community to show love to all the homegrown brands and influencers that might some day represent our country in one way or another."
And for those of you who are inspired by influencers, she has some words of wisdom.
"Don’t be afraid to work for your dreams. Visualise it, manifest it, and work for it; because dreams don’t work unless you do."
See? It’s not all fun and games being an influencer, after all. Just imagine how these four beauties do it! Being writers, bloggers, YouTubers, entrepreneurs, mothers and content creators while having to deal with people’s assumptions and misconceptions is not easy.
And it seems to us that they are all one in getting this straight: social media influencers are human, just like anyone and everyone else – and they don’t always get free stuff for nothing!
Kudos to the all our homegrown influencers out there! Truly, they deserve all our love and support!