Student influencers build online followings


Photo courtesy of Paul Shenton

First-year business student Paul Shenton works in his home studio.

Cole Popov, Reporter

AACC students who are promoting themselves on social media are attracting thousands of followers.

In fact, second-year communications student Taylor Walls has 341,000 followers on TikTok, where she shares her adventures as a sports broadcasting intern.

The student influencers say anyone can use social media to create opportunities and careers if they do it successfully.

“If you want to start influencing on social media, my advice is to, one, be yourself; two, you’re going to get hate,” Walls said. “My saying is, ‘If you listen to what other people say, and you give in to what other people say, then you’re not living your life, because you’re listening to what other people are saying, doing what other people are saying, and you’re not being yourself and you’re not living your life.’”

Influencers fall into three categories: Macro-influencers have a following in the range of 500,000 to 1 million; micro-influencers are in the range of 10,000 to 50,000 followers and nano-influencers have fewer than 10,000 followers.

Academic Chair of Communications Jessica Mattingly said influencers are defined as “individuals who create a personal brand based on either a personality or product, and reach a target audience of like-minded individuals who follow them for inspiration.”

First-year business student Paul Shenton promotes his music on social media and has 1,091 followers on Instagram.

“So I’m a musician, I’m a producer, singer, songwriter.” Shenton said. “So I make a lot of my own songs, post that on music platforms, and yeah, just do regular posts and stuff.”

Shenton added: “I use Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok sometimes, and I’m on all major music streaming platforms, so Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, all that stuff.”

Walls creates content on Instagram and TikTok about her career and social life. 

“So my social media influencing is a wide variety from a day in my life to sports broadcasting to chasing my career goals and dreams,” Walls said.“But also to establish a fan base where I can connect with people that are going through something like me, and I can also gain and give advice on things people are looking for.” 

First-year communications student Lily Genovese uses her platform on Instagram and TikTok to promote her personal life and advocate for LGBTQ rights. She has 1,251 followers on Instagram and 7,270 on TikTok.

“I think my biggest use of Instagram and stuff like this is just to advocate for like, you know, gay rights and stuff like that,” Genovese said. “That’s what I do mostly.”

Genovese offered advice to students who want to become influencers.

“Don’t be afraid of other people’s opinion,” Genovese said. “And that’s so hard, Like that’s such a hard thing to abide by. But I think if you are really just posting what you want to, post it. It’s not hateful or harmful to anyone. “

Shenton advised would-be influencers to stick to what they know.

“Just really figure out what you want to show people,” Shenton said “I think it’s going to combine your school with, like, your passion, you know, …If you’re going to school for, like, say music, then you really want to use that in order to make yourself better with all the stuff that you’re putting out.”