Spilling the tea! Rob Kenny on what life as an Irish influencer is really like 1 month ago

Spilling the tea! Rob Kenny on what life as an Irish influencer is really like

A serious insight...

Do you ever wonder what life is really like as an influencer?

Is it all parties and free stuff? Do they actually work hard?

Well, I have, so I decided to sit down with my pal Rob Kenny, and get him to spill the tea on the whole thing.

Rob is never afraid to be honest, which is why he was the perfect influencer to chat to.

But before we dive into the ins-and-outs of the industry, lets chat about Rob, and how he became an #influencer.

"So that's actually a bit of a confusing topic in my memory, weirdly! But I guess it's because there is not just one big defining moment where you're like ‘Ahh I'm an influencer now!’ haha," he told me.

He did make a point that word 'influencer' really annoys him...

"It implies you are trying to make someone do something without their originally intended consent, which of course is not the case! I'm definitely far more inclined to use the term ‘Content Creator’"

Fair!

 

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I’ve always championed the idea of openly saying and promoting that I had it relatively ‘easy’ growing up gay in Ireland. I’ve done this with the intent of wanting to help normalise being gay. But ‘easy’ to whom? My use of the word easy here is only when I’m comparing my youth to other gay friends, who I know often had it worse than I did. Or my older gay relative who hid his sexuality until his 40’s… I know I was lucky to have parents who accepted me when I came out at only 13. I went to a small mixed secondary school, where I know being openly gay was a lot easier compared to gay friends of mine in bigger, all boys’ schools. But when I take a step back to think, if a straight person had to walk a day in my shoes, would they find it so ‘easy’? All those nights out as a teenager & being verbally abused. That one time at 16 when I was physically assaulted on Hartcourt St by a group of lads & I (luckily) managed to jump in to a taxi home before things got too bad. My Mum says she didn’t sleep on any of my teenage nights out after that, until she heard me come in the door. The sad truth is I’m completely immune to the inequalities a gay person still faces in daily life. Shane & I always walk together holding hands (we’re soppy, I know) & we ignore all the stares. Only on Monday this week a group of teenage boys on bikes passed us & shouted ‘OH GAYS’ & made that typical, derogatory dipped hand movement. My built-up immunity kicked in and I barely took notice. I have the rarest blood type in the world & was called when I turned 18 & asked to give blood. I was sitting in the waiting room, ready to donate, when I was told I couldn’t give blood because I had ticked ‘gay’ on the admittance form. Everyone else in the waiting room overheard this conversation & I will never forget the embarrassment and panic I felt suddenly having to leave in front of everyone. My ‘easy’ gay life is just that… easy in terms of gay life. But how easy would a straight person find it? —————- Ireland has made amazing progress with gay rights but we’re still so far away from complete equality. The next time you witness homophobia or transphobia please, please #callitout ?️‍??

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Rob's journey kicked off on Snapchat (remember snapchat? haha), and went from strength to strength, thanks to social media.

"It's like a distant memory now, but many of us will remember when Snapchat was absolutely huge here. Per capita we were actually the biggest users of Snapchat in the world at one point. And I guess I was one of the original ‘Snapchat Stars’, which was the nickname the media gave us at the time."

"But my ‘becoming’ story in short is: I was working in a big PR agency with James Kavanagh, about 5 or 6 years ago now, when he first became big on Snapchat. And I guess because we were together every day and we got so hyper together - I was constantly in his content."

"This then naturally led to my own channel growing legs of its own."

"You have to really be doing something right for all of those people to bother tuning in and engaging with your content. People are super busy, we only follow who we really like, so it's amazing to think that so many people are choosing to watch and engage with my content."

So naturally, Rob's job means he kind of needs to be constantly switched on when it comes to social media, which can be daunting no doubt.

However, Rob see's the whole thing as part of his day-to-day, his career, which makes it easier to deal with.

"On the one hand you do feel the pressure to constantly be posting, particularly with stories, and sometimes you will find yourself thinking what am I going to post today? However, being a Content Creator is also a job, so really it is the same as any other job - where planning and creative strategy are involved."

But the pressure isn't non-existent, either.

"I guess when thousands of people are looking and watching – any human would be the same. But I have become more relaxed about obsessing over at all, which I'm planning to keep getting better at. Starting with not being so obsessed with how my feed aesthetic looks."

Rob also admits that the 'switched on' element of his job can be more of a pain for his family, and his mates.

"If you’re out for a walk, or out for dinner with your partner or with your parents - sometimes it annoys them that you're constantly taking your phone out to record everything."

"But again I have become more conscious about living in the moment and not doing this too much. Also your parents and partner actually get used to it!"

 

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*Cue cards to self* : You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

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Naturally, sharing so much of your personal life online leads to trolling (I don't know how they deal with that).

Rob seems to be one of the lucky ones, who has remained reasonable unscathed with regards to online abuse.

"I actually don't get trolls that often, which I'm so unbelievably thankful for."

"It really just baffles me how people have the time to sit and send hate to someone, who they don't even know personally. To me it really is just so simple - if you don't like someone, don’t follow them! Do not bother to go send them hate, it's not helping you in any way and it's most certainly not helping them."

Words to bloody live by, in fairness. There really is no room for nastiness... as your mum says, if you have nothing nice to say about someone, shut up.

"I think people really have to remember that influencers are just a normal human being, like anybody else, holding their phone up and speaking to their phone."

"Influencers are all self-made, so they are just normal humans, like anyone else. And everybody makes mistakes. People really just need to remember that it is just a girl in her room with her phone, and she’s as vulnerable as you are."

Naturally, the trolling can sometimes come from within the industry, due to the amount of cliques and groups.

How bitchy does it really get, though?

"Yes there are loads of cliques in the industry, and I definitely found this intimidating when I first ‘joined’ the industry years back. It would have been all of the names then like Darren Kennedy, Glenda Gilson and Brendan Courtney."

"However, you do overtime build your own clique an I have some of my best pals in the entire world within this industry now, such as Paddy Smyth, Holly Carpenter and James Kavanagh."

"And honestly no, it really isn't that bitchy at all. Particularly over the last year or two, there has been a real movement towards helping and encouraging each other."

You love to see that, guys!

"You can really see that both on social media, in terms of supporting and engaging with each on our content, but also in real life at events etc. There really now is an atmosphere of support and kindness, which is amazing. Now don't get me wrong, of course there are people I like more than others, but that's just human nature!"

(TELL US WHO, ROB!!)

And as for that age-old theory that influencers are lazy, and lucky? Rob is here to tell you that this is ABSOLUTELY not the case.

"People genuinely have no idea how long it takes to do 1 static Instagram post collaboration for a brand. It’s all actually a really time consuming process."

"In addition to all of the content creation, we all often have our fingers in different pies as well. If you take me for example, I still have a busy PR career and PR clients that I love, I write for numerous media brands, I present on the radio and I have a regular fashion slot."

"And a lot of Irish Influencers I know are the exact same, with varying interests and fields. After all these people have this many followers for a reason, so they’re usually very talented!"

So, what is the future for influencers? Has the industry peaked, or does it have a future?

"As someone who has worked in big marketing agencies my whole career, there is no way Influencers, or the world of content creation from people with huge followings, is going absolutely anywhere."

Thank god, or sure half of us would be out of a job.

 

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OMG skiing is my favourite sport.

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"Marketeers will always be looking for new avenues to connect with their audience and when influencers have such a big one, this is always going to be of huge value. Top Irish Influencers are often reaching more than 50,000 or 60,000 people with one story. That’s more than the majority of TV shows."

"It is also often the only way to have real people experiencing something in real time, in real life, while getting to show 1000’s of people at the same time."

"It is definitely not going anywhere, it will simply evolve."