Becoming a budding influencer during the pandemic

Photo Credits: Sandra Rao

In a light-hearted conversation, Sandra OG explains what it takes to become a social media influencer

Sandra Rao popularly known as Sandra OG on Instagram is a mass communications student and a budding social media influencer. Through consistent efforts, she has been able to build her own niche audience that appreciates and supports her content. In a one-on-one conversation, she shares her journey of discovering her passion.

When did you decide to become a social media influencer? I remember you started your YouTube channel last year. What was the thought behind it? Is it the pandemic that forced you to start your channel?

Well, I was advised by some friends to publish my content on the YouTube platform while I was an undergraduate student but yes, it was during the pandemic I finally decided to kick-start my own channel. The reason being I enjoy fashion, I like getting dressed up and if you can influence someone with your fashion, I mean why not? I like to create a style statement.

My YouTube channel is more of an archive of my Instagram account. I have more followers on my Instagram page compared to YouTube.

Last year, when you started the YouTube channel you had moved to Ireland, how easy or difficult was it to organize a crew to help you with your photoshoots? I’ve seen some of the BTS videos of your shoots and they look like professional technicians, how does it work? Do you pay them?

(Laughs) No, not at all. I don’t pay. They’re people that I know and I’ve met them in certain situations here and became friends. I just ask for help and they’re kind enough to do that. What you get to see is more of my direction, I tell them exactly what I need to shoot and yes, that’s how it all comes together. There is definitely a lot of editing involved. Not everything we shoot is on my Instagram or YouTube.

Photo Credits: Sandra Rao

How have you been able to build the audience on your Instagram? Is it all organic or you’re okay with promoting your posts to get more followers?

All my followers are organically built over a period of time. These are people who have known me, they’re aware of what kind of content I post. The key is to remain consistent that’s how you build a niche audience. If you’re not consistently putting posts there can be a dip in the number of followers. I don’t believe in paying and attracting an audience as they can unfollow me after a certain point. However, the ones who have been following me since the beginning know me and will continue to see me grow as an influencer.

What happens when a budding influencer or any influencer puts out their opinion about a social issue? There are some negative consequences you face right? I remember something similar happened with you when you supported #EndSARS movement. Could you elaborate on that particular issue?

Yes, this movement was to end the wrong practices of a section of policemen in Nigeria. There were many incidents when money was being extorted from the youth. This led to a social disturbance and the movement was to end these wrong practices. During this time, my Instagram account was hacked and there were posts being made on IG stories that were not by me. One of my followers informed me there is some suspicious activity going on, on my social media handle. I was quick to report it and retrieve my login credentials.

Photo Credits: Sandra Rao

On a lighter note, what is your plan ahead, do you want to put out a different variety of content to expand your channel? Also, what are your thoughts about training yourself to become a better influencer like maybe undertake some online programs and learn new skills?

Yes, I want to start vlogs and expand the genre of content from fashion, lifestyle to travel videos. I would like to train myself in fact, I have already done some online courses on Coursera and I definitely want to explore myself further. The journey has just begun for me. As I am heading towards the end of my Master’s degree I will have more time to focus on strengthening my social media. I look forward to approaching brands for collaboration opportunities and thrive for a successful career as an influencer.

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