by Kate Doolan

I sat down with health and fitness enthusiast and Instagram extraordinaire Claudia Lamb, more commonly known by her Instagram handle @claudia.jeann, to discuss the ins and outs of making connections via social media.

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Claudia’s Instagram account, focused mainly on veganism, health and fitness has acquired a following of over 16.9k in the past few years: something she never anticipated. Fortunately, this unexpected attention towards her Instagram account has lead Claudia to make valuable connections with both brands and other like-minded individuals.

Tell me, how did this all begin?

I began my Instagram account in my gap year when I decided to take a break from university. I study film, so I wanted a platform that would allow me to be creative in the content I produced, but I wasn’t confident enough to begin a YouTube account just yet. Additionally, I had just become vegan and no one I knew in real life understood what that was all about. So I made my Instagram dedicated mostly to veganism in the beginning.

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Who was the first brand you worked with?

The first brand to ever approach me was a New Zealand skincare company. They wanted to send me some of their products to try and then post about to my account. At that point in time, I was only at 5k followers and was very excited as I had no idea you could do things like that with the following I had.

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What types of brands do you usually attract?

Generally, I get sent a variety of offers from various types of companies. However, the most common type of company that contacts me are food-based brands. I am often contacted by skin care brands and fitness apparel brands as well. Sometimes I receive some fairly random messages from brands that I don’t think would be a good match, like non-vegan food companies, and I have to politely decline.

Have there been any other upsides to social media for you?

Definitely one of the best things that has come out of Instagram has been the friends that I have made. There’s a company on the Sunshine Coast called The Social Sistas who organise networking events and meetups. Through them, I’ve met a lot of great friends who I look up to a lot as women who are doing things they are passionate about.

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Do you think that your social media presence will help you further on in your future career?

Right now I’m not too sure how much social media will be able to help with my film career. Potentially if my following continues to grow, I would be able to pitch my Instagram platform as a potential audience for any projects I am able to work on, but we’ll see.

Do you have any advice for people who want to make connections via social media?

I think making connections via social media is all about finding a community that you want to be a part of. Definitely stay active on Instagram; updating your story and replying to other people’s stories is a great way to start a more natural conversation.

It’s important to create your own personal brand image and make sure your followers are engaged and interested in what you’re doing. It’s better to have 100 engaged followers than 1000 followers who don’t care at all. With this said, it’s important that you are actually interested in what you’re posting and what others around you are sharing as well. If you’re engaged, then there’s a better chance that others will be too.

I think making connections via social media is all about finding a community that you want to be a part of.

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