The word ‘influence’ stems from the Latin influentem, meaning “to flow or pour into.” In essence, it is a reference to an out flowing of energy that produces an effect, of either material substance or unobservable forces. In this case, the influencer is one that applies their energies, in tandem with a good understanding of aesthetics, photographic skill and a keen eye for detail, to create a substantial following on the popular social media platform, Instagram. Once the appropriate audience has been captured (there is no official minimum but nearly all professional bloggers have an upward of 1k followers), they use their newfound influence to promote brands and lifestyles, create debate around current fads and generally boost their own media image.
American pop-star Selena Gomez has held the position as queen of Instagram for the last two years, with 139 million followers in 2018. The reason for her popularity off-stage as much as on is due to the carefree, relatable side of herself that she exhibits online. Next to heavily stylised photos of her posing on magazine covers is Gomez rolling in the grass with her friends, laughing with abandon or eating pizza in her pyjamas.
Bangladesh has seen a fair rise in Instagram celebrities in the past couple of years, with more brands gradually recognising it as a legitimate platform for marketing. Actress Nusraat Faria is the most followed Bangladeshi Instagrammer, with 1.1 million fans to her name. Most bloggers in Bangladesh have their focus on lifestyle and fashion, with a few on food, music and art.
ICE Today speaks to five lifestyle bloggers of the country to find out how they crafted a career for themselves in this unchartered industry, what they would like to achieve with their growing influence and what their plans are for the future.
Naziba Naushin (naziba.naushin 53.2k followers)
“I see a lot of people looking up to me and trying to follow me, so I always try to set a good example and promote love and harmony among people and influence everyone to work really hard with honesty and passion.”
Naziba started out in 2016, posting photos on Instagram for fun with a friend (minimalmudassir, also a well-known fashion personality with 13.6k followers of his own). They were inspired by foreign bloggers and wanted to do the same in Bangladesh, where even two years ago it was not an established line of work. Only last year, big brands started to notice her posts, says Naziba, and approach her to advertise their products. An exciting additions to the promotions are the launch parties, food tastings, and store openings she gets invited to!
Naziba insists on the quality of the products she is posting about and her blog focuses on fashion items, but sometimes accepts offers for cosmetic brands as well as restaurants. She feels positively about her experience as a professional Instagrammer so far and is excited for what the future has in store. Naziba also works as a freelance cinematographer and radio host and lives by the motto, “Say yes to every good thing!”
Tinker Jannat Meem (tinkerjannat 3.3k followers)
“Initially half the effort was explaining to companies what I did, but nowadays they understand.”
Tinker started off her career in social media in 2014, with Facebook group Pop of Colour. She created this group to connect women in Bangladesh to support and advise each other on topics of health, shopping, lifestyle, fitness, beauty, motherhood and more. Recently, she has taken up the initiative on her group of uniting job seekers and employers, especially for female requiring roles. Pop of Colour currently has 24k members.
Owing to Instagram’s growing popularity, Tinker soon started posting there and has worked with many big names such as Aarong, Unilever, Radisson Blu and Veet. She strives to maintain quality in her work by being selective about the brands she features on her account. Not only does she research the company but also the product and the ingredients used so as to provide the best information to her followers.
Tinker’s aim is to spread positivity, remind women to love themselves and to make them aware of their rights. She has strong faith in the women of Bangladesh to take the country to greater heights.
Al Fahad Bari (alfahadbari 23.6k followers)
“I spend more time on writing captions than editing pictures.”
Fahad’s aim is to set trends rather than follow them. He believes that his feed should inspire and motivate rather than simply creating looks for his fans to follow. He says, “I don’t just focus on the pictures or the feed or the fashion, I try to focus on each and every detail of a picture I upload. I try to share my art and writing, and motivate people through my captions.”
If Fahad uploads a photo on a rooftop, the caption will read something like this: “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts.”
Fashion is not just about wearing nice clothes but telling a story through your lifestyle, says the 21-year-old blogger. Fahad wants to use his online presence to acquaint Bangladesh with the world, as he believes it is a place where fashion is celebrated differently, not just on the body but spiritually.
Bushra Siddique (bsidd123 15.5k followers)
“Everything in my life is planned out. Even if it looks spontaneous – it’s never really the case, behind the scenes are eons of meticulous planning!”
Bushra is a Bangladeshi Instagrammer living in London who quit her bank job on her 25th birthday and decided to venture out into the then unknown world of blogging. “Being a London based Bangladeshi influencer has its perks and drawbacks,” she says, as this gives her the best of both worlds and allows her to look at things with a broader perspective. However, not living in Bangladesh I miss out on engaging with the local brands and community a lot.
Bushra’s experience in the Instagram world has shown her that it’s a very close-knit community with immense amount of support from one another and an overall willingness to embrace the knowledge, share and grow together. In that spirit, she created a group called Bangladeshi Influencer’s Group on Facebook to bring all creatives including bloggers, photographers, designers, brands and so on together to support one another, network and learn from each other.
Sumaiya Pasha (sspasha93 19.8k followers)
“There are many things lacking in the blogging industry in Bangladesh that I wish could be improved so that I’d enjoy doing it here as much as I loved it in Toronto.”
Sumaiya started using Instagram professionally in Toronto in 2017 but moved to Dhaka a few months into it. Her feed focuses on fashion, beauty, lifestyle and she also offers styling services. She has received a lot of support from her fans and peers in Bangladesh which made her carry on this career path after she moved back.
However, there are a few things that she believes can be changed about how Instagram blogging works here. She feels that youngsters are being mislead and misguided by companies where they are being made to glorify materialism and excess.
Bangladeshi bloggers, she says, are so obsessed with perfection and portraying themselves as hip and trendy on Instagram that they are lacking authenticity and losing their own identity.
Sumaiya has faith in the potential of people here and the urge to learn and be better in life, which inspires her in her own work. She believes strong and intelligent women should uplift and support each other and Instagram is a great place to do so.