inside the world of instagram's teenage super fans
Meet the tech savvy kids breaking stories about Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and One Direction between classes.
There are countless fan accounts on Instagram today. We're talking about pages dedicated to tracking the day-to-day movements (and outfits) of a celebrity. They function like old school, early internet gossip blogs, but they only keep track of one person. Plus, since they're run by fans, the vibe is always celebratory, never snarky.
Some accounts stick to posting photoshoots and paparazzi snaps of their chosen hero, while others will also keep tabs on the Tweets their icon favorites and the photos they double tap on Instagram. They lurk so expertly to gather clues as to who and what their heroes are loving and loathing.
The craziest thing about these accounts is how good they are at what they do—they consistently break stories well before magazines with way more resources. Take @abelxbella for example, an account dedicated to model Bella Hadid's relationship with The Weeknd, who worked out they were dating nearly six months before the story appeared anywhere else. When gossip blogs clamored to identify a woman's leg in a photo Justin Bieber Instagrammed, fan accounts had already found her name, Instagram, and social security number. Just kidding on that last one -- but they probably could have.
If it's not clear already: these accounts are extraordinary, and running them looks like a full time job. We wanted to know if it really was, so we contacted a few of the biggest accounts we could find. Everyone was eager to talk, just as soon as school was out. Turns out most of the elite Instafans haven't even graduated yet.
@JustinBieberTracker - 210k followers
When did you start liking Justin?
Late 2009 when I came across an interview with him on YouTube. I completely fell in love with his passion and I've supported him ever since. We're really similar: we both enjoy music, we both have fiery personalities and we love to joke and be around friends, but still stay dedicated to our goals!
When did you start the account?
In the summer of 2014 my love for Justin grew bigger; I just had to make an update account so fellow Beliebers and I could follow his ups and downs, struggles and successes together, as a family. Justin has noticed my account on quite a few occasions. This might sound strange, but I don't pay any mind to it. Justin's just like us, so I don't think of him as "Justin Bieber" or "The Biebs." I think of him as just Justin.
Okay, talk me through a day running the account.
My daily routine for maintaining the account starts as soon as I wake up; I check gossip sites for candid photos and videos of his last spottings, and I frantically post them as I get ready for school. Sometimes I'll contact actual people who've posted about meeting Justin that day. They always have plenty to share about their experiences!
After school, I'll obtain more updates and post them while trying keep up with my real everyday life. On a busy day, I'll post around 60 photos, and on slow days I'll post about 10. If it's an extremely busy day, I'll barely make it to 100 posts before Instagram gives me Posting Block for a few hours. Sometimes I'll set an alarm for 3 or 4 AM to check if I've missed any updates when I was sleeping. I try to balance running the account with schoolwork, friendships, family, and enjoying my everyday life as a teenager.
Are you getting any tip-offs from Justin's team?
I don't have any contact with Justin's team: I do all my research on my own. It's very hard. A lot of the time I do feel like giving up, but I know I could never leave such an amazing and determined artist.
It sounds like it would keep you pretty busy.
It does. Right now, I'm a senior in high school so I have a lot on my plate, like worrying about college. Updating the account is tough for me nowadays, it's hard to find a balance between my life and Justin's.
@kylie.shoot - 305k followers
Kylie's been in the public eye for a while, but it's only recently has her popularity exploded. When you become a fan?
I started liking Kylie a while ago, after watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. My mom is a huge fan of the show. I just loved Kylie's personality; she's sassy and shy at the same time. I'm just a little older than her and we're really similar. I feel as if we're twin souls, because we have similar energies and young souls. And yes, I believe in that stuff.
So when did you kick off the account?
Last year. I was watching more and more people hate on her and judge her. Kylie's so real, and it made me sad that people didn't see that. I work during the week in an office writing contracts and managing general business stuff. I'm always on my phone to arrange meetings, so it's actually pretty easy to upload to my account throughout the day.
What kind of things will you post?
Photos, usually about 10 a day, and more than 20 if Kylie's been to an awards show. I find my images on entertainment websites, and my amazing friends who also run Kylie fan accounts will help me by letting me know when pictures come out.
I saw that Kylie actually follows your account. How'd you feel when that happened?
It was crazy! I'm very calm, but I can't lie, I was shaking. I got so nervous, thinking like, 'it's a mistake, she clicked on the wrong button.' But she's been following me for almost a year now.
So do you guys ever chat, like friends?
I don't consider Kylie a friend, because I want to respect her privacy. We maintain space between the fans and Kylie, but she's the kindest girl and she treat us really well. Like, on my birthday, Kylie asked my name. After she got back from a recent trip, I DM'd her to say she needs to eat, sleep and relax after the travel. Sometimes she gets sick and I think this crazy routine might be the cause. She thanked me and said 'I love you.'
That's really sweet!
@onedirection_1D_ - 446k followers
Hey girls, tell me where the 1D love began.
We fell in love with the boys one day watching X-Factor auditions on YouTube in 2011, when Zayn's came up. After that, we became obsessed with them and started our account a few days later.
What's an average day running the account look like?
Well, we'll look for photos everywhere: mainly on Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. We also get sent pictures by DM when people meet or see them in real life, so we'll upload those pictures too. And it's all us, we don't have any contact with 1D's team or anyone close to the boys.
Have the boys noticed you?
Not yet. If we got a follow or even a single like from the boys, we can't see ourselves doing anything other than freaking out, and maybe crying! The idea of being noticed by the boys is one of the reasons we keep updating. Plus, we've made a lot of friends through the account. We've been friend with some other 1D fans for nearly four years, and we talk almost every day, even though they live overseas. That's one of the main reason's we're glad we made the account.
What are you doing when you aren't running the account?
Well, we do spend a lot of time updating our account, but because there's a lot going on with school, we're spending less and less time on it. We basically spend our time with friends and family, at the gym or school and working on this account.
Text Isabelle Hellyer
Images via Instagram