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Thursday, December 13, 2018

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Instagram influencers inspire students: tips and tricks of the business


Students attended the panel on navigating business through social media courtesy of the Muslim Student Association. l Laraib Hashmi/The Cougar

On Nov. 1 in SEC 105, the Muslim Student Association hosted a productive seminar with Instagram influencers and UH alumnae Maryam and Jaserah Asadullah. The panel was a Q&A session with the modest fashion bloggers about navigating business through social media platforms. 

MSA’s Quality Control Executive Officer Ayesha Khan coordinated this panel with the intention of encouraging  students to strive for social and professional growth. The panel was open to all students, regardless of their standing with MSA. 

“We have a program called AMP, which is the Ansar-Muhajireen Project, and what we do is focus on professional, social and personal growth,” Khan said. “We try to bring in professionals who can help our students and just different opportunities for them to learn and grow.”

For the panel, Khan wanted to inform and encourage the skill of networking. Networking can bring out a vast number of opportunities if you know the right people.

“You know, networking and just connecting and learning. The reason we had this panel is because I had personally followed them and I knew that they were social media influencers, but on top of that, I thought of how students can connect to them,” Khan said. 

Once students themselves, Marayam and Jaserah related their own experiences to the students’ current situations and concerns.

In this social media era, becoming an influencer and blogger might look easy, but it’s anything but that. MSA’s event and the engagement of students with the panelists helped students get that push and spark of motivation they needed.

If you’re thinking about starting a business on social media as an influencer, try out these tips and tricks and, most importantly, stay true to yourself.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the influencers themselves so that I could share their guidance with our readers. 

The Cougar: What would you do differently if you could go back to the beginning of your business/social media journey?  

M: Worry less about people and worry more about yourself. I was so caught up in what others would think of me, whether that was family, ex-in laws or friends – would my friends think I was trying too hard, do people think I am “fashionable” enough to be a blogger, am I dressing the way my ex- in laws want? I was so worried about living to please people that I lost authenticity.  I could have seized the moment and did what was best for me and what made me happy, which was creating modest fashion content.

J: I think about it a lot, about the what ifs. Honestly, with time, I realize we live and we learn. And truly, that couldn’t be more fitting for the social media space especially. You can’t always get it right. I feel like your mistakes often teach you. They are a stepping stone for how you’ll move forward and do things another way.

TC: What advice would you give to young people who want to become social media influencers?

J: Two pieces of advice: One, always check your intentions. Ask yourself, why do you want to influence people and in what way do you want to influence them? Two, always stay authentic to yourself. Don’t chase the game of what others are doing or fall into styles that don’t reflect who you are as a person.  Ask yourself, what new aspects can you bring to the table? Instagram is already so saturated with bloggers and influencers, what sets you apart?

M: Be authentic. The best and long-lasting brands are built on soul and reality, not just the hype. Consistency is key. Lastly, be patient. Building a truly loyal fan base takes time. And in the meantime, it’s how engaged they are with your content and message.

TC: How do you deal with the negativity that comes with being a public figure?

J: Honestly, I haven’t had much (negativity or) bullying since I started four years ago. I get the occasional, “please cover up” or “wear hijab properly” comment, which I usually dismiss because it is so uncommon, but other than that I do not experience hate. I will say though, the best way to deal with negativity is to be confident in yourself  because that way no matter what anyone says about you, it will not affect you because you know who you are and what you stand for.

M: Recently, I’ve had a few comments from people doing the “mom shame,” and that was the first time a social media comment bothered me. I try to block it out and not respond.

TC: How do you reach people who may not be in the Muslim community?

J: If you’re talking Instagram, hashtags are your friend! Hashtag general searches such as outfits, fall fashion, travel diaries and such that not only Muslims search for. Aside from hashtags, create content that is relatable to everyone, like makeup looks, cleaning/storage tips, lifestyle content, etc. It doesn’t always have to be about hijab, modesty, faith and such. You can appeal to a larger crowd without sacrificing your faith, you just have to be smart about it. For instance, we shop at normal mainstream brands such as Nike, DSW, Target, etc. These are not explicitly Muslim brands, so tag them in your posts, write blog posts/reviews about them. Others who are also searching such brands on Instagram or Google will find your reviews/pictures/tags.

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