BY CINDY HICKS
Reality television’s newest stars, The Westbrooks, have recently made their mark on Black Entertainment Television (BET) on Wednesdays at 10pm in a new hour long documentary series.
The series follows star of the show India Westbrook, 19, also known by fans as India Love, who has made a career from posting appealing photos on social media sites. While still in high school, the California native began taking photos and posting them to her Instagram, Tumbler, and Twitter accounts for fun. As a result, she received overwhelming feedback from spectators. India acknowledged the feedback and decided to use it to her advantage to create a viral impact.
After being included in some of India’s buzz worthy photos themselves, sisters Crystal, 21, Bree, 22, Morgan, 25, and Brooke, 27, all followed in the lead of their younger sibling. They took to social media to create a name for themselves, becoming socialites in their own right. Aimed to make a brand from the huge following, India and her four sisters sought to become household names based off of their Internet fame and made it a family business.
Samantha Fernandez,22, a York College business major supports the Westbrooks efforts.
“I think what they did was a smart idea and innovative, in this new Internet era anything is possible,” said Fernandez.
Catching the attention of BET, Meeting the Westbrooks was pushed into production and aired on October 14. This new gig comes after many others the sisters have attained off of their social media fame but doing the series made sense as the next step to promote the family as a legit brand.
When asked why they decided to go through with it, Morgan told Ebony magazine during a premiere event, “Did we have a choice?” “Instagram put us here, everybody put us here,” she said.
Their popularity and influence has also brought other opportunities such as local clothing and shoe lines, growing businesses, and musicians begging to be promoted by them, bringing in thousands of dollars to the family. Offers continue to grow with their followers.
“I charge at least a couple hundred just to have your link in my bio. I brand myself a certain way just to have certain people gravitate toward me,” India said during an October interview with BET.
To keep up their popularity and relevance the sisters must treat their social sites as careers and constantly post pictures, sometimes loading up to a 100 per day amongst the group. Turning a pastime for regular social media users into something much more, the sisters continue to market and promote themselves as if it is a full time job. Creating a job from internet popularity has currently become the new way to make it, not only for the Westbrooks but for many others. Social media has become the most useful tool to people willing to take this unusual route.
Personal branding is essential when taking a path similar to India Love. She and her family have simply followed the steps a major corporation would have and applied it to themselves. Forbes magazine contributor Jason DeMers explored personal branding and social media marketing in a 2014 issue. In the article, “The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing,” he explains social media’s part in the process of managing yourself as a brand.
DeMers claimed, “…Social media marketing is the “next big thing,” a temporary yet powerful fad that must be taken advantage of while it’s still in the spotlight.” “Your social media networks are just new channels for your brand’s voice and content,” he goes on to explain.
The Kardashians are proof of personal branding working. They may also be the creators of the path The Westbrook’s are surely following, however to maintain careers like their counterparts, the sisters must continue to think bigger and create an empire that goes bigger than Internet fame.