Influencers on campus gain valuable career skills through brand marketing

Influencers gain career skills which include advertising, creativity and communication with various audiences.

As the Coronavirus pandemic has kept people inside, people spend more time on social media keeping up with various influencers. Though many have returned home, MU holds its own share of influencers who want to make their mark on campus.

Sydni Layne, a freshman at MU, believes that God has gifted her a platform of 30,000 Instagram followers for a reason.

Layne uses her account as a way to promote both her personal and professional life. As a hopeful sports journalist, she understands the importance of needing to build a brand for herself. Brands reach out to Layne and ask her to promote their products on her Instagram for compensation. Though the amount of money was not disclosed, Layne uses Instagram in place of a typical college student minimum wage.

Being an influencer and having a platform doesn’t mean that schoolwork takes the backseat.

“It’s really hard because I do take my schoolwork very seriously, but I just try to balance that and make posts for companies,” Layne said. “I do let them know that school comes first and that I make posts on my own time. I can’t just be taking pictures all the time and getting ready all the time, that's not how college is.”

Layne said posting is still a top priority as she tries to manage her daily life with school and various activities into the things she posts. Her Instagram bio reads “based on a true story,” because she wants to use the account to be as close to her real life as possible. That way, in the future, even if she does not pursue social media, she is able to have a connection with a large audience of people.

Being an influencer at MU does at times have its drawbacks for Layne. She said she’s experienced times where people have questioned why she does Instagram and the way she posts, but she said there’s a reason behind her building a platform on social media .

“I feel like I wouldn’t be here without God,” Layne said. “I feel like he gave me a platform for a reason, it didn’t just happen. I am really happy to be here.”

For Kate Cupp, also a freshman at MU, Instagram is more of a hobby at the moment, but she hopes to make it a side hustle as her following continues to grow.

Cupp’s Instagram,@katecuppy, boasts roughly 4,000 followers and showcases her life through well-taken colorful photos and snappy captions. Cupp said she didn't expect to grow her platform big enough to be able to represent brands at first since many influencers have upwards of 10,000 followers.

“A lot of times people will be like ‘Oh like you’re famous,’ and I’m like ‘No, I only have like 4,000.’ So, it’s not as big as people think,” Cupp said. “I never even realized that I would be able to do what I’m doing because I only have 4,000 [followers], and I see people doing it who have 20k, 50k and so brands just reached out to me and I was shocked.”

Three brands have reached out to Cupp so far: Novashine, U Centre on Turner and BootayBag. Cupp posts their content on her page as a form of marketing for them, and they pay her for each post. She is able to manage her workload while also continuing to build her brand and gain valuable work experience.

“I really enjoy social media and it’s really just a hobby for me or something fun to do, so being able to be paid for that is crazy,” Cupp said. "I don’t have a job so that is something that definitely does help out. I try to take Instagram pictures on the weekend and then focus on school during the week.”

Cupp hopes to work in the marketing side of the fashion and beauty industry, so working as an influencer helps her gain the valuable skills and make connections that will help her in her future profession.

While the world stays inside, influencers still manage to build brands for themselves and work on life skills as they market themselves to their audience. Some are able to make an impact on large audiences of people while those audiences learn from them and spend time making their mark in their own ways.

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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