Influencers go viral on social


Second-year communications student Genesis Hayes has built an online brand with more than 9,000 Instagram followers.

Bethany Probst, Reporter

Former AACC student Dominique Barrett stands across the desk from a group of potential employers, who ask, “Do you have any special talents?”

He answers by flipping a water bottle, which lands upright on the table with such force that the interviewers fall out of their seats.

He filmed that staged video in AACC’s library in 2016. It drew more than 30 million views on Vine.

Today, Barrett goes by “King Vader” on his YouTube channel, which has 1.4 million subscribers and features funny music videos.

Barrett said the inspiration for his content came from watching TV and playing video games.

And action movies, he said, “just kind of made me really in tune to action-packed stuff and special effects.”

Vader isn’t the only YouTube star with an AACC connection.

Genesis Hayes, a second-year communications student and social media influencer, has a following of 334 subscribers on YouTube and 9,000 on Instagram.

She posts her clothing hauls, advice for college students and storytime videos on social media.

Honesty and authenticity online make influencers stand out to attracting advertisers, Hayes said.

“Personally, I do brand deals,” Hayes said. “But I always make sure that it’s something I would use in real life and enjoy. When you go down my profile, it’s not just over-saturated with advertisements.”

Hayes said she earns $6,000 to $8,000 a year from Forever 21, Fashion Nova and other fashion and cosmetic lines by showing their products online.

Second-year communications student Lauren Orcutt, a social media influencer, said influencers need to work hard and have perseverance.

Orcutt said the goal of her YouTube channel, which has 147 subscribers, is to simply make her viewers smile.

Her channel consists of videos of her Zaful clothing hauls; vlogs of her personal life; and parodies of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos.

Entrepreneurial studies professor Stephanie Goldenberg said learning how to market is key to the influencers’ success.

“My suggestion is to refine what they are doing as an individual and think of themselves as a brand,” she said. “Taking business classes … will help them shape their personal brand.”