“She really knows her angles,” says the PR person who is organising the 8days.sg shoot today with top local influencer Mongchin Yeoh, aka Mongabong. “She has no bad angles!” I reply. It’s true — the 27-year-old content creator with 255K followers on Instagram and 88K followers on YouTube is pretty as a picture and a total pro at posing. But by saying that, perhaps I’m being unfair, and somehow insinuating that her success is a result of being born beautiful, and not her own effort or hard work. Because if you haven’t heard by now, being an influencer isn’t a walk in the park. No, not being sarcastic — the handful of top content creators in Singapore have shown that they can pull off huge brand campaigns, earn massive monthly paychecks and command thousands of dollars per IG post — and they don’t do it by prettily resting on their laurels or just knowing their best angles in a selfie. Instead, they’re constantly working, creating and coming up with ideas. Having a gorgeous face is just a start.
After six years in the industry — a lifetime in the world of social media — Mong, as she’s known to her friends, has risen to role of mentor, and is sharing her secrets with a new generation of content creators, namely, 100 next-top-influencer hopefuls in TheFaceShop’s #EcoBeautySquad competition. They attend virtual workshops and mentoring sessions with her and tackle challenges such as coming up with flatlays or beauty reviews, and the winner that emerges will get $15,000 worth of prizes and a 12-month contract with TheFaceShop, along with lots of beauty products.
Since she’s feeling generous, we get Mong to give 8days.sg and our readers some tips on how to social media like a pro.
#1: Rule Number 1: Be authentic and stay true to yourself.
“This is something that everyone always says, but there’s a good reason for it,” Mong tells us. “If you’re not true to yourself and are always just chasing whatever is trendy, you’re going to get very tired and burned out. Also, people are smart and will see through you after a while. If you’re in it for the long run, what would never change is you as a person. I’m still learning how to put myself out there and be as authentic online as I am offline.”
#2: Don’t be embarrassed about putting yourself out there — you never know where it can get you.
“I didn’t heed the naysayers or let them stop me from doing this at the beginning. When you’re nothing and everyone is just starting out, it’s quite embarrassing to put yourself out there, especially when I was in school and people would be like, ‘Oh did you see the video of that girl who took a video of herself doing a make-up tutorial?’ But everyone has to start somewhere, and you’ll always be a wannabe until you get there. When you show some results and people start taking you seriously, then it’s no longer embarrassing. That’s when people start respecting you for your craft. Before that, it’s like, ‘What are you doing with your life? Are you going to spend your life dancing on the Internet and taking selfies?’”
#3: Your content should be a balance of ‘polished’ pics and ‘real’ pics.
“There are different levels of standing out: How do I get noticed? How to get on the Explore page on Instagram? For IG, at the start, many influencers put a lot of effort into making their pics very pretty and polished, but after you get to a certain stage, it’s more about how to gain new followers and not lose existing ones. It’s a balance of pretty pics and authentic pics — between putting yourself out there and letting people know who you are, and creating nice content for your new followers. After a while, you will become known for something — like for example people may follow you for your beautiful flatlays or to learn how to style clothing. Then it’s ok even if your page is extremely curated, ’cos that’s what people go to you for. I usually have a mix — even when I post something unglam, I will edit it so that it looks nice. Authentic doesn’t have to mean unaesthetic. But it’s hard to say exactly what works — if I knew the exact formula, I wouldn’t be afraid of the changes in the algorithm!”
#4: Look at your statistics and analyse them.
“There’s a “Insights” tab [on your IG homepage and on each of your posts], and it’s important to check those, ’cos it shows what kinds of posts IG is showing more to people, and how many shares and followers you get from certain types of pics. You may notice trends, or that some pics will get you on the Explore page or more likes, comments, or followers. Space out and balance your posts according to what works for you.”
#5: There’s still lots of space in the social media sphere for influencers.
“I don’t think social media is on the decline — I think it’s something everyone is realising they can’t do without. Some brands rely solely on social media marketing and park 99 per cent of their budget there. Some do a mix and some still rely on traditional media, but for the younger crowd, social media is all they know. I feel it’s not to be dismissed, but things may change, and it’s hard to tell what will happen. I think consumers may feel there’s an oversaturation of info, but for content creators, there’s enough work to go around. There’s money to be made and it’s financially viable for people to choose content creation as a career. For me, things fell into place when I graduated [from accounting school], and I was able to support myself, which is why I took that leap of faith.”
#6: Being an influencer is not a “brainless” job.
“I think the most common misconception about being an influencer is that it’s very easy and that it’s brainless. I don’t think it’s brainless; it just uses a different part of the brain. I’ve been doing this for so many years, and many people still think it’s “anyhow do”, that we do nothing but go for facials and eat good food, or stuff like that. Till today, I still get trolls telling me I don’t deserve to whine about Monday blues cos this is not a proper job. I think it’s a case how influencing or content creating isn’t recognised as a proper job, ’cos some people define a proper job as 9-5, Monday to Friday, going into an office, and working for someone. Singapore’s content creator scene only started existing six to seven years ago, so it’s still a baby. People never imagined seven years ago that influencers can be faces of brands, or mentors, or be in TV shows. And yes, luck is one thing, but in order to stay around for a long time, that takes some sort of talent or skill — but it’s whether people recognise it as that.”
#7: Competition is stiff, and there are people who will take your spot any day, but it’s the “best job in the world.”
“Competition? Are you kidding? When you put fame, money and beauty together, there will surely be competition. The competition is crazy. We have brands saying, ‘Can you lower your rates ’cos this person is offering this amount’, and followers telling us things like ‘You are not good as this other person.’ Honestly, I don’t talk about controversial things. I talk about things I love and I attract people who like the same things, and I’m blessed that my followers are all very nice. I say competition is stiff ’cos there are a lot of influencers out there and there are people who would take your spot any day, whether it’s for the perks or the glamour. I would say I have the best job in the world and everyone would want to be in this line.”
#8: But don’t count on doing the same thing forever.
“I’m sharing my secrets with the participants in TheFaceShop’s #EcoBeautySquad competition, but that’s okay. It’s what mentoring is about. It’s healthy competition, and eventually I have to move on to other things. I won't be doing this forever. I wish to do this for the rest of my life if I can! By not doing this forever, I mean I won’t be in the same phase of my life and sharing about the same things forever. If I have kids, I will go into mummy things, and talk about parenting, and when I’m older, I can talk about health supplements. I’m already talking about these things now. Things are ever changing, and your followers grow up with you.”
Photos: Alvin Teo/8days.sg