Social network platform’s youngest stars owe their fame to their parents’ intense work behind the scenes.
Something peculiar happened when Ryker Wixom Googled his name recently. Instead of finding unrelated links and the Facebook accounts of people with similar names, the 8-year-old was greeted with photos of himself as a toddler atop the first page of results. A little farther down was an entry for him on a website called FamousBirthdays.com. A little more scrolling revealed a Daily Mail video of a 4-year-old Ryker attempting a magic trick.
Ryker’s classmate, who also participated in the online self-sleuthing, did not have such a digital trail. “I liked it because we just typed in Ryker, and a bunch of pictures of me came up,” Ryker said. (His mom asked him my questions and sent me a voice recording of his answers.) “When we typed in [my friend’s] name, there was only an old president’s picture. He was like, ‘What the heck?’ We both laughed really hard.”
“He came home and asked me if he’s famous,” said Ryker’s mom, Collette Wixom. Her reply: “‘You’re not famous, but people know who you are.’ And his friend thought it was the coolest thing ever.”
Ryker always knew that his mom liked taking pictures of him, but he was never explicitly aware that people actually saw them, Collette explained. However, these photos have led to a small amount of fame for Ryker and his little brothers, 6-year-old Grey and 2-year-old Wyatt: an audience on Instagram. As @ministylehacker, Collette Wixom amassed more than 300,000 followers by posting photos of her sons wearing kid-size versions of men’s-wear (what she calls a “mini style hack”). When she started the account in 2014, it only featured photos of Ryker, her oldest. Now the @ministylehacker feed is full of pictures of all three of her sons on the beach; on the computer; in a lush, green field.
Many of these posts are sponsored by retailers, such as the Honest Company, Jessica Alba’s natural-baby-product brand, or eBay. Wixom said that these companies accurately represent her Los Angeles–based family’s values—which means you won’t see @ministylehacker promoting CBD oils, diet pills, or anything Collette thinks her kids would be embarrassed by when they grow up. When Collette started @ministylehacker, she was working in yearbook sales. Now she makes her living by working with an agent, brokering partnership deals (Wixom declined to share her fees for sponsored posts), and packaging her family’s life for Instagram and YouTube.
The multibillion-dollar industry of social-media influencers is composed of many niches, from health-focused “fitfluencers” to fashion and beauty gurus to travel bloggers. The content creators who run these accounts promote everything from jewelry and lingerie to food and experiences. Of Instagram’s 1 billion users, 60 percent say that they discovered new products on the platform. The social network has become fertile ground for marketers looking to push their goods, including children’s products such as toys and milk, and parent-friendly items such as kitchen appliances. And who better to promote them than fresh-faced toddlers with their own dedicated following?
Some of these kids, like the Wixoms, are featured on a parent’s account, while others are the stars of their own account. But all these young Instagram celebrities’ success comes as a result of their parents calling the shots and running the business behind the scenes.
Source The Atlantic