As Instagram continues to grow in prominence, the platform provides individuals the opportunity grow their brands, stretch their creative muscles, and even earn a living. Many beautiful and talented individuals have built considerable followings (Jenners and Karshadians leading the pack, of course), earning a measure of celebrity while becoming influencers—those who have enough clout in their niche to be able to shape the actions of their followers. One such niche is in the realm of cosplay, where Instagrammers can become local celebrities, and even gain regional or international renown, and earn a consistent income.
While developing our on-going Cosplay Conversations feature, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many cosplayers with growing influence, but one account caught my attention in particular. I first ran across Hannahmosho’s account a long time ago, when it felt more like a model’s, but since then she’s shifted her focus to gaming and cosplay. Hannah is also set apart by approaching her posts with an authenticity that’s often lacking in similar accounts, which can feel more like marketing machines. At about 16,000 follower, her account seems large—but this likely just the beginning of something much bigger.
While the quickest way to a huge following is to take beautiful photos of yourself, Hannh wants to do something different. Geekiness runs in her blood, and she’s using her Instagram as a way to express it: “I’ve been a gamer since I was a child. I played Call of Duty with my dad—we even started our own clan.”
Twitch, a live streaming platform that many gamers use, is a natural fit for her and a place where many of her followers come for personal engagement. While there, some will offer gifts (ex. cosplay accessories) as an expression of appreciation or devotion. They also get a chance to see Hannah’s “unfiltered” self.
But she also has an otaku side, with favorite series including Fruits Basket, Helsing, Death Note, Angels of Death, and Elfen Lied. During college, Hannah stopped indulging her anime bug as she searched for a place to fit in. A little older and wiser now, she’s through with “holding herself back” and is eager to just enjoy herself and share her interests, which recently led to her first cosplaying experience at San Japan as D.Va from the game, Overwatch. It was an intimidating experience, but one she enjoyed: “As soon as I walked out of the hotel, I was scared of people taking pictures…[but soon] I was having so much fun! I got to talk to people!”
Speaking of intimidation, I told Hannah that she comes across that way in her account, I think because of how attractive she is and the confidence she expresses. Her followers, however, don’t see her that way—that inner “dorkiness,” for lack of a better term, comes out through her captions and how she engages her followers. One of hem told me that she may seem hard to approach at first, but she’s really a “sweetheart.” That authenticity helps create a devoted following, a more telling measurement, perhaps, than a simple follower count.
That allegiance is going to be necessary for Hannah as she works toward her goals of broadening her audience and becoming an influencer. She’s reached this many followers without employing any sort of real strategy, skill with photography, or experience with modeling, which is quite a feat—as anyone who’s trying to build an account will tell you, it’s painfully hard to reach more than 10,000 followers, even if you have all those skills and training. Something special is going on here, and its more than just sexy photos (a browse through Instagram will lead you find lots of accounts with pretty girls and more risque photography)—Hannah’s followers are attracted to Hannah the entire package, rather than adding her to a list of every other pretty girl they follow.
As she works on developing her skill set, and continues to express her interests (her Camie Utsumi cosplay has been a big hit), she’s likely to reach that goal of becoming an influencer. And even better, she’s going to do it her way—a way that I think we all would like to do it—by making her social media experience, both for her and her followers, an absolute blast.