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Local Instagram leaders gain traction

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Watch the likes roll in.

76.

132.

348.

348 Instagram likes on a single post is a lot for the average high school student. Their followers are made up of friends, teammates, their mom. But for a select group of NCHS students, 348 likes is only the beginning.

These students, ranging from sophomores to seniors, wait for likes from over 1,700 followers. Thousands of peers and total strangers waiting to like and comment on their Instagram posts. Some of these social media savvy students have more followers than there are students attending NCHS.

How so many followers are gained is a little more complicated, but nonetheless, the local leaders of the pop culture dubbed “Instagram Generation” have arrived.

“I view Instagram as a fun way to express myself and for other people to see parts of my life that they might not normally see,” Hannah-Kate Loy (@hannahkloy) says. She speaks for many of those with high follower counts–they use Instagram as just another social outlet, the same as talking with close friends. Pictures of friends, football games, and family vacations scatter the electronic pages, keeping their hundreds, even thousands, of followers in the know.  Loy updates her 1,848 followers by posting once or twice a month. Her feed is plastered with pictures of friends captioned with “happy birthday” wishes but also features the occasional selfie or puppy picture.

If Loy’s feed isn’t evidence enough of her large social circle, her high follower count–especially for having a private account–speaks volumes to her friendly personality and affinity for making friends.

While the idea of someone gaining thousands of followers just because seems strange, for several of the students, that really is the truth. “I don’t particularly care how many followers I have,” Maya Wong (@maya.wong) says. “I just post whatever.”

Wong’s 1,762 Instagram followers could also be attributed to the sophomore’s basketball success. She played on the girls varsity basketball team as a freshman, averaging 6.9 points per game, and is once again playing varsity this year, so far averaging 11.9 points per game. Her success on the court is mirrored by her success, though accidental, on Instagram.

While Wong’s social media status may simply be circumstantial, there are some students that within their social circles of peers, family, and teammates, tailor their feeds to the masses.

Madelyn Hamara (@madelynhamara_) posts pictures she believes “people would like” and gains followers “by being active on social media,” such as “putting [her] Instagram link into [her] Twitter bio.”

Hamara’s way of staying active on Instagram includes posting frequently, but not in a utilitarian manner. Sometimes she posts two pictures in one day, sometimes a week–or even two–in between. In the past two years, Hamara has posted 107 pictures and can be seen in 105 of them. As Hamara said, she certainly has learned how to stay active on social media.

Hamara is certainly successful in her tactics–she has 4,991 followers, more than anyone else at NCHS. Hamara is part of a growing trend, one that students such as Wong are exempt from. Googling “how to get Instagram followers” beings up almost 59,000,000 million results. Thousands of users, maybe even millions, are looking to gain followers in order to boost popularity, influence others, or build a business. Instagrammers all across the globe are choosing to post not just to preserve memories, but to give their followers what they want. Of course, this is not wrong, but it is a different approach than when Instagram first launched.

As the idea of professional Instagrammers gains popularity, small businesses are increasingly looking to those with a large following to promote their product through Instagram. From #sponsored posts to giveaways, “regular” people are engaging in marketing campaigns, and high school students are no exception.

Faithe Wenger (@faithesharee) commented that she has been contacted by companies to advertise for them in exchange for profit or a product. “Some people have actually sent me stuff where I have to post a picture wearing it,” Wenger said. However, she doesn’t always choose to advertise. “High school is a time where people are very judgemental…once people mature…for sure, I would take this opportunity [to use Instagram as a business],” the senior continued.

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The Instagram generation is booming.

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