The Secret Lives of 12-year-old Instagram Tycoons
Zoe | 12 | 12.5k. Anna | 14 | 8.2k. Phoenix | 13 | 20.6k.
There lurks a hidden world, buried deep beneath the layers of personal accounts, celebrity bloggers and retail brands on Instagram. Children as young as 12 years old - probably unbeknownst to their loving parents - are building their social-media empires. These girls are receiving thousands of pounds of PR products a year and are breeding hundreds of thousands of followers by the day.
We always hear about the dark side of the internet for children; the pleas from older generations to 'get the kids outside', ignoring their child's perpetual whining for an iPhone and installing expensive software to monitor and restrict their internet use. (Despite the fact your kids probably know [as I did] how to turn off and re-program the software better than you!) But no one really talks about the secret lives of the 12-year-old Instagram tycoons, with their pocket money, makeup palettes and unparalleled social influence.
Clearly inspired by the rags-to-riches blogger-turned-celeb phenomenon, young girls are using the success of their social media elders to carve their own paths to a career in blogging. This is hardly surprising given that Zoella, arguably the UK's most famous social media influencer, earns allegedly more than £50,000 a month. Irrespective of whether 12-year-olds set up beauty and fashion Instagrams to imitate the lives of their idols, or create an account out of (a very admirable) entrepreneurial spirit; PR companies do not discriminate over age.
What fascinates me the most about this phenomenon is the strategic approach these young girls implement to generate huge followings at such a young age. In their Instagram bios, the girls usually write their name, their age and their following so companies or other users will be more inclined to click on their feed. There is also usually some kind of comment directed towards PR companies, for example 'PR Friendly :)', 'for reviews email me' and 'will review makeup products for free'.
Another way these users build their following is by networking and there is a very strict etiquette amongst these young moguls. Many warn in their bios that if you unfollow them, they will unfollow you. Others launch competitions to increase their following, spend their precious pocket money on prizes to lure in users or advertise their school friends 'let's get Amy to 1000 followers by 5pm'.
Whilst I hope this phenomenon is not just another form of a playground popularity contest or the evils of social-media-promulgating-an-unrealistic-reality in disguise, I think these young girls deserve some credit. Instead of telling them to finish their homework, play in the park and put away their social media devices, we should be celebrating their entrepreneurship, commitment and creativity. Many retail brands - with teams of experts (tens and twenty years older than these girls) - could not harbour this kind of following if their life depended on it. So move over millennials - this new generation could be a force to be reckoned with.
What do you think of 12 year-old Instagram tycoons? Should we be celebrating this phenomenon?