March 8, 2016
Interview with Conall Keenan
Conall Keenan, a 19 year old from Northern Ireland, is your classic millennial; he's got a great sense of humour, he's very passionate and he's incredibly active online. Whilst Conall's online fame lies predominately on Vine, he still is making quite the mark on Instagram. Conall treats his 30k + followers to simple, cool pics from his everyday life. Showing us once again that on Instagram, simplicity is key.
Conall took the time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with us about how he earned his Insta-success.
Why did you first create your account?
I made it a few years ago, as I’d heard a number of friends talking about it. I think I had it for a year or two before I actually started using it, though.
Why do you think that so many people follow and like what you do?
I used to promote it a lot on Twitter back in the day, which originally drew in attention. I’ve dropped a lot in user engagement since I stopped pandering to what I felt my followers wanted, i.e. selfies and stuff like that, and instead starting posting pictures that not only do I think look good (unlike my selfies lol), but that I also enjoy taking, something which never was the case.
Do you set goals for yourself through Instagram? If so, what are they?
I used to for my personal account, back when I first started getting brand offers, and I contemplated taking time out of school to try out social media. When I decided to go to university I stopped posting frequently, and dropped the goals. However, I run a bunch of parody pages, and such, on both Instagram and Twitter. Because I earn revenue from them I focus on trying to grow them - so I set weekly goals for each of those accounts.
There may not be a real way to define a “good” Instagram account, but what do you think is essential for Instagram success?
It all depends on what audience you’re going for. If you’re going for a mostly teenage girl following, then posting a bunch of face tuned selfies and constantly reminding your following how much they mean to you is the way to go. However, with the rise of stars such as Connor Franta, who post really high quality content, there’s a new niche that allows you to find huge success with actual photography. If you’re aiming for that kind of success, either invest in a good DSLR, or learn how to edit photos using apps such as VSCO Cam.
How much time do you put in each week on Instagram?
I could go weeks without looking at Instagram. I will typically spend 5 minutes per photograph. Whenever I have free time, however, I’ll reply to comments, typically taking up about 5 or so hours a week.
You must get countless comments, or DM’s on Instagram from your followers, what’s been the weirdest or funniest that you’ve received?
I still find it weird that people think there’s something special about me. Like, anyone who knows me in person can’t understand why there’s people who put me on a pedestal, like, I’m a socially awkward, boring guy. I will check out the accounts of people who follow me from time to time, and if I like their content, I’ll go through their posts and like and comment, and sometimes will follow them if I really like their posts - quite frequently, actually, I will then be tagged in a photo of the person taking a screenshot freaking out because I interacted with them. Very weird. There has been some things which are funny, like whenever people have me saved as their screensaver, or have printed out photos of me and stuck them on the wall; alternatively, however, there’s been some weird things. I had to stop accepting Snapchats from everyone, as I was receiving a lot of inappropriate photos. Also, because I receive a few hundred snapchats a day, I’ll just flick through them, never replying, which a lot of people get offended by, and get mad at me. Getting death threats is also never fun. I’ve also had people take pictures of me while I’ve been sitting in public, which is never okay; however, a few months ago two people sitting in front of me spent an entire flight taking photos of me, and whispering about “Conall Keenan”. That I don’t like.
Technology is changing like crazy, what do you think the future holds for Instagram, and those who are Insta-famous?
Depends on what direction they're taking. The Internet is constantly changing, so you’re basically sitting on a ticking time bomb. For every person who has successfully made a career out of social media, there are thousands of people who have failed. It’s a big risk. For me, I’ve placed a lot of effort on parody pages, as I hope to create a business out of that. I study computer science, so for me the next few years will hopefully see the creation of apps, which I can market through these social platforms.
Obviously that isn't the case for everyone, but if you’re hardworking, motivated and honestly, lucky, you can make a successful career out of it - branching into traditional media, such as publishing a book. It’s an exciting time, but I wouldn’t be too quick to drop everything and pursue it full time.
When did you create your Instagram account?
2012, I believe.
What has been the key to your account’s growth?
My other social media platforms, if I’m going to be perfectly honest. I have more than double the amount of followers on Twitter, and my Vine account has something like 110k followers.
Do you manage your own account solely or do you receive assistance?
I manage all accounts by myself. I will always manage my own personal accounts, because they’re for me, I’m not out to monetise them. However, I’ve been contemplating hiring someone to help run my other accounts, as it’s incredibly time consuming, especially as I hope to work with more brands and continue a steady growth.
Has your experience using Instagram pushed you in a direction you didn’t imagine it would?
Photography was never something I had considered, however, after putting more effort into the pictures I was posting I’ve a new found interest in it. While I see myself following a career in the tech industry, hopefully through my own company, I’m currently working on a number of different projects, some of which heavily rely on photography.
How many new followers have you added in the last 12 months?
Honestly wouldn’t have a clue. I’d say once you take away unfollowers, something like 10,000.
Have you represented charities/causes/or political views on Instagram?
Charities. I don’t hold any political views, it’s not something that interests me, and isn’t something I’d imagine a lot of my followers would even have considered, due to the general age. I do want to work with more charities coming into 2016, and try and use my brand for good.
How many brands have you done work with in the last 12 months through Instagram?
Two or three on my personal account. Through my parody accounts, somewhere around 100, maybe. Probably more.
What’s the number one problem you face when using Instagram as an app/service?
More more difficult to run multiple accounts in comparison to the likes of Twitter. For it, I schedule all posts for my parody pages through Tweetdeck, whereas there’s no services like that for Instagram.
Follow Conall on Instagram!