I Didn’t Know I Was An Influencer: stories of accidental success

Most successful blogs and social channels have been built up slowly, with not only great content, but great marketing strategies needed to get an Influencer seen above the rest (for our tips on becoming an Influencer, see our previous article). However, there are occasionally times when the social media stratosphere takes things into its own hands, and makes someone a star. We are taking a look at those times the internet has unexpectedly, and rather beautifully, made someone famous.

Such as fashion-focused Lyn Slater, Associate Professor of Social Work at Fordham University, who grew to social media fame after her incredible outfits meant that, while meeting a friend for lunch during New York Fashion Week, journalists and photographers mistook her for an industry icon and began snapping photos. Looking at her outfits on Instagram, you can see why. She runs a style blog, aptly named accidentalicon.com, where she posts about style for ordinary, fashionable women. Slater has been praised for breaking fashion barriers with a new approach to fashion for older women, this is a large part due to the fact that she doesn’t focus on her age at all. In fact, according to Slater’s research, a lot of her following is aged between 25 to 35. Her blog is beautifully produced, featuring her favourite brands and many photos of her unique ensembles. Since starting her blog it has rapidly grown in popularity, and Slater has been offered further opportunities to collaborate, including a cover and editorial in Grey magazine only six months in.

Lounging in a deserted city. Heaven. #AgeIsNotAVariable #currentmood #nyc #holiday #pajamas #lounge #home #weekend #soho

A post shared by Accidental Icon (@iconaccidental) on


Another example of perfectly-timed photography leading to fame is the amazing story of Jumoke (Olajumoke Orisaguna), now a model after accidentally walking through a photo shoot with Tinnie Tempah and photographer Ty Bello. Jumoke is from Osun, Nigeria and was captured in the image above as she walked through the street. The shot was entirely accidental, and entirely perfect, and led to Bello searching out Jumoke for future modelling work.


Her story has become something of a fairytale, as she was afterwards signed by Few Model Management. This year she has released her new Vlog Series “Olajumoke Sauce” where she shares her story.

Olajumoke on a magazine cover

A rather different, and rather strange, example of online fame is Alex from Target, or #alexfromtarget. In 2014 a customer at Target shared a photo of him, it got enough likes and retweets that overnight Alex gained over 300,000 followers after his official page was tracked down. It even led to an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Since his viral fame in 2014, Alex has quit his job at Target, is now pursuing music and he has launched his YouTube channel. The Alex from Target Twitter (really Alex Lee) currently has over 600,000 Twitter followers. He has gained popularity from his posts on Facebook and Twitter, finding this his written content gets him more engagement than the photo content that made him so suddenly famous. Like other accidental stars, Alex is using this moment in the spotlight as an opportunity.

alex from target

Mastanamma Karre,a 106 year old great grandmother and wonderful cook living in India, is another person surprised by sudden online fame. Her and her great grandson’s YouTube channel, Country Foods, has grown rapidly in popularity with now over 500,000 subscribers. She cooks traditional recipes and her cooking demonstrations are filmed and uploaded by her great grandson, Laxman K. They are set to calming music and focus on traditional recipes. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Laxman explains that he wanted to maintain the knowledge of traditional cooking techniques, particularly thinking of those living in cities. The pair did not expect the rise to fame the YouTube channel received, and for Mastanamma to become somewhat of a YouTube sensation. One of her most popular videos is her recipe for watermelon chicken, below. While pleased with the popularity, the pair continue to do what they love – cook and share wonderful recipes.

From accidental fame, to an extensive online portfolio. While Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton is not exactly accidently famous, it is an amazing phenomenon to see how popular his work has become. Further, it is rather other people, rather than Stanton himself, that the project has focused on making famous. The Facebook account has amassed 17,833,126 followers to date and two bestselling books based on the content. It is a beautiful collection, with Stanton able to find the exact balance between the photo and short interview style caption. Imagine meeting a total stranger and trying to sum up there life, ideas, in a photo and caption? On his website Stanton describes his project: “Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants.” His work is amazingly delicate and in depth, and a wonderful collection of stories and lives. It has spawned further “Humans of” series and is a great example of using social media to tell the stories of the world.

Another example of a niche account growing a rapid following is that of Declan McGovern, who in the northwest suburbs of Melbourne grows organic produce alongside his Instagram account. His company, The Little Food Garden, grows food for the local community. However more than grow food, he wants to use social media to teach people where food comes from. The interesting thing about McGovern’s account is that it is not the polished photos usually expected on instagram, yet the profile has still grown in popularity far beyond his local area – meaning McGovern can reach far more people with his lessons, photos and videos on organic farming. In an interview with Buzzfeed he describes his account as “The way I speak and talk…my grammar isn’t great”, says Govey. ” I’ll write my posts as if I’m saying it. I think people started to enjoy that side of it. It’s just me being me”. This is a great example of how social media can be used to share your passion, and the unexpected way these things can grow with a little effort (and water).

From Instagram to a Twitter account that grew rapidly to online fame and beyond. Journalist Rob Temple is the creator of the Very British Problems Twitter account, started – explored in an article by The Telegraph – by a poor haircut and a bad day at work. The account’s first Tweet was “Walking back into the office after having a slightly shorter haircut than normal”. However Temple could have had no idea how his dry, observational one liners would take-off, rapidly gaining thousands of followers including celebrities. After only a month the account had over 100,000 followers. The talent is in shrinking the awkward and funny scenarios into short, 140 character jokes. The channel has grown into a book deal and star-studded TV series on Channel 4 – an amazing achievement from a little idea and a few minutes to put together a logo. The account is currently still going strong with 2.6 million followers, and Temple seems happy to let the account take the limelight rather than extend the fame to himself.

Social media networks allow for rapid and global communication, and there is a wealth of opportunities to be gained from this. There are so many profiles that have taken off unexpectedly, and we have celebrated only a few here. For the examples above, they took their opportunity offered from the online space, and developed great stories. To start your story today, check out Buzzoole.com.

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