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Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Behind the screens: youthful star

Senior rises on social media as an influencer
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Livi Ralston
McNeil shares her earliest experience as a creator. ”My first time going viral… [was] on Tik Tok. Once you go viral one time, you never stop going viral so that was just a start for me,” McNeil said.

Brand deals. High school. Followers. Homework. Success. Two different lifestyles forced into one person, teenage social influencers can balance it all. Senior Shanel McNeil has grown not only her social media platforms, but also her confidence and style with posting on apps such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.

“I used to be really shy, so I never really thought of it but I think as I got older, I just wanted to. It wasn’t even intentional. I just started dressing more than I was, especially in middle school when I didn’t really care what I was doing. But I guess as I got older, I just got more and more into fashion,” McNeil said.

Different platforms require different content, according to McNeil. No matter the app,McNeil creates her material out of what is popular for the algorithm and her own interests, but also gets feedback from followers.

“When you make content and stuff that random people in the world see, [they would say] ‘you should do this, you should start doing this’. So I started YouTube after one comment, at the beginning of the middle of last year, and I started blogging my life because I like to talk,” McNeil said. “Just basically feeding what people want to see.”

At the beginning of her influencer career, McNeil felt conscious and timid filming content for her social media. Over time, she slowly grew into her confidence that she continues to thrive in now.

Senior Shanel McNeil records herself for a YouTube video. Although she uses many platforms for creating content, she enjoys filming videos. “Vlogging my life makes me really happy and I like that I get to capture my memories,” McNeil said. (Livi Ralston)

“I was iffy about looking dumb in person, in public with the camera and talking to it, but now I really don’t care. I just zoned everybody out so it’s easier,” McNeil said.

Although McNeil is pursuing a lifestyle on social media, it is not all that is in store for her. Moving forward, McNeil has other passions she will work towards that are outside of being an influencer.

“If I do end up getting viral on YouTube or something, I will be grateful for it but I’ll never put it full time because I do have other priorities that I want to pursue in life. I’m not going to put that to the side for what I do. So basically, what I do [on social media] is just for the fun of it,” McNeil said.

Similarly, high school influencer Izzy Marcino strives for a career other than her platforms. Yet, she will use her large following to assist her profession.

“So now I know if I were to ever write my own music or want to do some music, I have a platform where I can go ahead and put that out on and I have like 15,000 people who will automatically see it,” Marcino said. “My sister talked about once we both turned 18, getting our real estate licenses and maybe doing real estate on the side and it’s a better way to promote that through my accounts.”

As for now, Marcino is content as she has grown her accounts on social media, specifically Instagram, through the past couple years and has even received multiple offers from brands to promote their product.

“The first time I got sent something was Nova Shine, a teeth-whitening thing. So they sent me that and I posted for that and then I just remember how fun that was for me. I guess, over COVID is when I realized this is something I wanted to do,” Marcino said.

Although it may seem easy to promote a brand on social media, there are sneaky inconveniences that act as obstacles for influencers, especially those still in school. With a full schedule of school and work throughout the week, there is a limited time slot for producing brand deals.

“When you’re sent certain items, they [companies] give you a way you’re supposed to post it. So they’ll give you what you have to say, what you have to do with it,” Marcino said. “The biggest struggle is finding time to even get ready and make the content because [the companies] send you stuff and they’re like, ‘Oh, you have seven days to post this’ and then like, all the insane school week, and then it’ll be like raining on the weekend.”

Interior design blogger Carmel Phillips has found social media to be a tremendous help to her business in terms of creativity and support.

“{Social media] has been a game changer for myself,” Phillips said. “It’s really allowed us [other small business owners] to still be super present in our homes, but then also create a business that is fulfilling and that’s super flexible in terms of time and schedules.”

While having a social media platform has benefited Phillips’ profession in various ways, she does carry some concern regarding teenagers pursuing a social media career.

“I do think that social media, having a platform… in terms of what you love to share can be super helpful, whether that becomes like a full time thing for you or just a part time thing or even just a hobby. But I also think that it can be really overwhelming,” Phillips said. “Just in general, society is not super kind on social media, you kind of have to have a really thick skin if you’re going to have a public platform and I think that can be really tough for someone who’s young and just kind of learning.”

Staying loyal to one’s values and authenticity is key in the world of social media.

“There’s a lot of negatives and positives, but I think the best thing is really just being able to put myself out there in that way because I’m a very ambitious person. There’s a lot I want to do with my life in the future,” Marcino said.

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