STELLAR chats to the new wave of weblebrities.
With 94 percent of 16 to 24 year olds considered superusers on social media, according to a recent Eir survey, it’s little wonder Snapchat’s gained such ground in Ireland over the last 18 months, emerging as the shining star in the social media firmament.
Every year, when we do our online photoshoot and story, the parameters for who’s who have changed utterly too: first came the 1.0 bloggers, then the YouTubers, next up were the second wave of blog stars and now we’re seeing a whole new form of influence as young Irish women build brands for themselves via the power of their own smartphones. It’s a Truman Show-alike world we couldn’t have predicted even five years ago, so who are the women leading the charge? We’ve selected just five to focus on here.
“It was such a sheep thing,” Rosemary says of her joining Snapchat last year. “I’m nosy. I wanted to see what Suzanne Jackson was saying.” She didn’t expect to build an audience so rapidly. “In the first month or two I got to 2,000 views and I was going, this is really weird, why are people following me? I’d get people messaging me, saying, ‘I think you’re really funny.’ I’d be like, I literally did not say anything funny there,” she recalls. “I was just giving out or talking about something normal.”
Perhaps her success lies in the fact she’s accessible. Rosemary – STELLAR’s former deputy editor – doesn’t just talk about issues affecting women – food guilt, sexism, mental health – she talks to her ‘fans’.
“I get between 50 and 100 messages a day,” she explains. “It’s usually someone asking where I got a necklace or where to get a healthy lunch. Sometimes you’re like, you could Google that, but at the same time I’m cynical. Ireland’s small, the minute you’re rude to someone, everyone knows.”
Some followers don’t give manners the same consideration: “One girl messaged me after I’d been snapping about clothes I’d been trying on. I was saying the sizing in a shop was all off. She messaged, ‘do you ever think you could get the size 16 that fits?’ I looked at her username and realised I’d argued with her on Twitter and blocked her years ago.”
One person keeps creating new accounts to harass her with, calling Rosemary’s feminist credentials into question over the fact she hires a cleaner. “I’m pretty sure that’s a man,” she sighs.
As for what she doesn’t share, well, that’s basically nothing. “I think some people who follow me think I’ve no mates,” she laughs. But overall she’s an open book. “My mum always says to me, never put out there what you wouldn’t have read out in court, and I honestly can’t think of anything about myself that I wouldn’t want read out in court. I don’t have any secrets. There’s nothing I’m ashamed about.”
The RTE 2FM DJ lurked at first. “I got Snapchat early because I’m interested in social media in general,” she says. “But I wasn’t really using it. I felt silly initially.” Louise had a sense of Imposter Syndrome in influencer land: “I spend a lot of time in my pyjamas.” However, her normality won followers over, especially her make-up routine. As her Insta following grew over the past couple of years, people asked her what products she used, baying for a tutorial. “But they’re a lot of hard work,” she points out. “You need the right equipment if you want to film them properly.” Which is why Snapchat’s perfect, “I thought, that’s a good way for me to do that without the labour intensive process. I’ve only done it twice but I’ll definitely do it more.”
Snapchat’s also a career gamechanger. “If you’re working in media, you’d be silly not to be on social media,” she insists. “Twitter would’ve played a huge role in establishing myself. Now Snapchat’s playing a large part.” At the Longitude festival during the summer, more attendees approached her to talk about her Snapchat than her show.
Unsolicited dick pics aside, is it mostly a woman’s space? “I live in it in such a feminine way,” Louise observes. “I follow mostly women, my followers are mostly women. It’s interesting when James Patrice starts his snaps he says ‘Hey gals.’ If there are guys following him, it’s as if they’re not even a factor.”
Next up for Louise, after a busy year in which she published her first book, Fat Chance, is motherhood. She’s weeks away from giving birth to her first child. “I’ll probably want to share about my baby, but I’ll talk to my husband about it because he’s quite private,” she says. “Maybe Snapchat will be a good way to do that. It’s less easy for people to take that photo and use it elsewhere. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian and thousands of people are downloading all your snaps at every given moment!”
Award-winning entrepreneur Ellen Kavanagh uses Snapchat to promote her beauty business Waxperts and offer followers a glimpse into daily life behind building a brand. And she pays it forward when it comes to all that cheerleading from her followers, offering Snapchat discounts. She can communicate directly with customers and point them in the direction of their nearest Waxperts stockist. “We’ve seen the impact of that,” she says excitedly. “I get snapped by people every day in their local salon.” Nothing NSFW, in case you’re wondering.
“It’s important not to have it as one big advertisement,” Ellen cautions, pointing to shoe designer Sophia Webster’s account as one that blends pushing the label with behind-the-scenes craic. She allows people to see the real person, not just the businesswoman. Her adorable young son Cooper frequently cameos. But not everything goes up online either. “People think they see everything, but it wouldn’t be the case. That’s the perception,” she says. She’s mindful that not everyone wants to be a Snapchat star.
When Ellen assesses it, her favourite thing about snapping has been the people she’s met in real life as a result of the app. “The nicest thing to come out of it all has been meeting Laura Cunningham and Karen Constantine [@lovelygirlybits] and Aisling Keenan [@aislingmkeenan]. We didn’t know each other before and now we’re best friends in real life.” Aisling sent the others a ‘let’s meet up’ message after weeks of their interaction on the social network last year, and they all attended Ellen’s super-snappable wedding in the Shelbourne this summer, cementing their virtual to very real friendship.
“Just go for it,” Orla of The Orlacle says of launching a social media empire, including a hugely popular Snapchat channel. “Don’t overthink it. I wanted to start a blog since 2012. I kept thinking it had to be perfect, but then one day I said I’d just do it.” Orla started her blog, The Orlacle, in 2014 while working in Space NK on Dublin’s Grafton Street. A year later she kicked off her YouTube channel; shortly after embraced all things Snapchat, and has emerged as one of the most relevant young Irish Millennials broadcasting on the app.
Honest and hilarious, you’ll want to be her friend as soon as you scroll through her daily snippets. Nothing’s off limits when it comes to chatting to camera. “I feel like I talk about everything,” she admits. “I’m drinking in a lot of my Snapchats, so even if I wasn’t going to say it sober it comes out drunk anyway.”
It’s this refreshing attitude that’s seen Orla charm Snapchat users. After a stint in a marketing agency, she’s now able to freelance and has some brand collaborations on the horizon. It’s a strange new world, and Orla’s taking advantage of it. “I don’t mind the word influencer, but I wouldn’t call myself one,” she says. Really? “It’s a bit cocky, but I don’t think it’s an awful word, I’d never use it myself because I’d say I’m more of a blogger.”
And if she wants to leave the world of 24/7 personal branding behind? “I think I’d go into something like PR or advertising, but hopefully I won’t have to think about that for a while because it’s going well now.”
Ultimate slashie, Laura’s editor of Irish wedding magazine Confetti, and has just celebrated the first anniversary of her side-hustle, hippenings.com, an online shop for the cutest party goods.
Plus she’s a major presence on many people’s Snapchat homescreen. However, this triple threat nearly didn’t find her way online. “I had the perception it was for much younger people,” she says. But watching her peers like Rosemary venture onto it pushed her into giving it a go. “I had to get my much younger intern to show me how to use it,” she laughs. “I felt like a geriatric.”
“It’s become a much bigger part of my life than I anticipated,” she says. And it’s helped propel Hippenings too. “When I mention something on there, it starts selling.” She’s careful not to always be selling, though. “I unfollow brands who just talk about their brand. This isn’t an infomercial.”
Why does she think Snapchat has gained such traction? “It’s more real,” she says of the access it offers users. Because of the app’s disposable nature, “people feel a bit more free to talk and be themselves.” That can go a bit too far though. “I get given out to for my mannerisms all the time,” she says of the messages she often receives. “They’re quite personal comments. People feel like they have more access.”
And at the end of the day, if she wants a break from all the social media noise there’s her cat Mark waiting at home, “Although I think he’s more famous on Snapchat than I am…”
This article first appeared in STELLAR’s October issue. Our December issue is on shelves now!
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