This is Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.
Kids don’t go viral on social media by accident anymore
An Instagram account dedicated to a 6-year-old reviewing Shirley Temples blew up this week, going from 300 followers to more than 145,000 followers almost overnight.
The account features a boy named Leo who’s dubbed himself the Shirley Temple King. Under the handle @TheShirleyTempleKing, he tries the popular kids’ drink at various restaurants and rates each one. Leo is very adorable, and it’s the type of wholesome internet content we can all rally around and say, “See! Not everything on social media is bad!”
I found Leo’s account very endearing so I reached out to his parents, who run it. What I learned talking to his mom, Lisa Kelly, a 36-year-old from Fairfield County, Connecticut, is that Leo’s ride to viral fame has been overwhelming, exciting, and fun — but I’m not sold it was completely an accident.
Lisa, who has two other kids, described her son as a “very outgoing child” with ambitions to be “a writer, an actor, a scientist, a candymaker.” She said the idea for the Instagram account came entirely from Leo when their family was on vacation at a resort last summer.
“He was talking to my husband by the pool, and he said, ‘Dada, I have this great idea... Why don’t I rate Shirley Temples?’ It was all him... And from there, it took off.”
During our interview, Lisa repeatedly said the whole endeavor was very “casual.”
“When we started the page, it was a meeting place for our friends and family to see Leo,” she said. “It was totally genuine and fun. And all [Leo’s] idea.”
On Monday, Leo’s account went viral after a food editor for People magazine tweeted about him. Since then, Lisa and her husband have been feverishly trying to keep up with the new public attention and endless media requests.
It’s 2020, though, and it’s pretty hard to get new followers on an account like Leo’s without some dedicated tagging and hashtagging. [Editor’s note: Seriously. Do you know how HARD I work to get more followers on my cat’s IG??? It’s embarrassing.] For Leo’s parents, tagging brands and establishments in Leo’s posts seems to have paid off.
Since the account was started, Leo’s parents have tagged local restaurants and brands like Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Target, and Friendly’s in his posts. Of course, they also tagged The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Tonight Show: the mecca of destinations for potential child influencers.
Many posts also tag local and national media outlets, fashion brands like H&M Kids and J.Crew, and modeling agencies like Ford Models, Wilhelmina Models, and IMG Models.
Leo hasn’t received any sponsorship opportunities from his account, but Lisa said she’s “open to it.” As far as tagging brands, media outlets, and businesses, Lisa said that’s all “just been a fun thing around town.” She said she tagged local establishments so that fans will know how to find the Shirley Temples that her son raves about.
Lisa said protecting Leo is her number one priority in this endeavor, and she only wants to run the account as long as Leo wants to do it.
“As long as he’s having fun with it...I just want him to be happy, healthy, safe...having a normal childhood,” she said.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with tagging your kid’s Instagram strategically so he gets more followers. And no matter what his posts were tagged with, Leo’s natural charm and cuteness are why his account blew up the way it did. I’ve never had a Shirley Temple, but he’s single-handedly convinced me to try one. You’ve influenced me, Leo!
But some strategic moves by his parents primed this all to happen, and now I’m writing about it. And I’m here to say, hey, @WilhelminaModels @TheEllenShow! Sign him to Wilhelmina! Get him on Ellen!
Sponcon of the Week: Caycee’s Mid-Labor Nightgown
There’s truly nothing I love more than examining the world of Instagram sponcon. The creative ways people are able to seamlessly (or not) blend random product ads into their everyday content is an art, and I am but a humble student.
This week, I want to share a piece of sponcon that spoke to me because of the dedication to the craft. It comes to use from Caycee Hewitt, who blogs at Hanging With the Hewitts and Instagrams at @caycee07.
Caycee gave birth to her third child, Reese, last week. However, giving birth did not stop her from sharing outfit details with her fans.
In — literally — the middle of active labor, Caycee shared a photo of herself in a cute nightgown lying on a hospital bed. “Swipe up for those asking about gown details...and it can be worn during labor and afterwards for nursing...this little gown has all the mama bells and whistles. Oh yeah and it’s super soft and comfy too!”
The nightgown and matching robe are currently in Caycee’s account on the liketoknow.it app, if you’re curious. And it seems like baby Reese got a matching outfit as well. (And yes, I do consider liketoknow.it, rstyle, and Amazon affiliate links sponcon, even if they’re not ~technically~ sponSORED conTENT. Feel free to argue with me via email.)
I DM’d with Caycee a bit, but she didn’t get back to me when I asked a few questions, which is understandable since she has an infant.
All I have to say is, for all the hate influencers get about their work, they know how to hustle. I certainly wouldn’t be writing this newsletter if I was literally about to birth a human.