Special Feature an In-depth Interview
By CLAYTON LITTLEWOOD
ANDRES & Paul
So far in this series we’ve looked at single social media Ultimate Influencers. But there are couples on social media too with just as great ‘pulling power’. And I’m not talking about couples like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, David and Victoria Beckham, Trump and err, Stormy Daniels. I mean couples that have publicized their relationship on social media and built up sizable following of almost 400k on Instagram alone. We follow their progress: their successes, their failures, their health, and of course, their love. Maybe they have a place in our affection because their relationship feels ‘real.’ A relationship that is nearer our grasp, if we can just find ‘the one’.
Of course, the social media world is not known for reality. People invariably show their ‘best side’ – their best photos, the best location, the best background, taken with the best smartphone. Imperfections are often filtered and ‘Snapseed’d’ away. But the couples who harness social media well provide more than just a morning ‘wrinkle free’ selfie. They give you a peep into their world. Their relationship world. We may love to escape the horrors of the world by immersing ourselves in the fantasy of Game of Thrones. But these ‘real’ and ‘reachable’ relationships can also capture our attention. They show us that love is within our grasp. We may never reach the relationship status of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but Instagram couples show how we can still become ‘online famous’. And once we are, there are no end of business opportunities available.
Now let’s meet one of these Ultimate Influencer couples. Paul and Andres …
Q. How long have you been a couple?
Andres: We celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Mexico in December last year.
Q. When did you join Instagram?
Paul: The first picture I posted on Instagram was a picture of Andres and our old dog Milo. This was back in October 2012.
Andres: I joined a few months after Paul.
Q. I know you use Facebook, but do you use other forms of social media and which is the most successful for you in terms of business and number of followers?
Paul: Instagram has the most followers and success rate for our Dark Room brand, hands down. I also have an Only Fans page and Twitter accounts with the same usernames.
Andres: Instagram and Facebook are enough to keep up with!
Q. What happened that made your followers suddenly increase or was it a slow build?
Paul: Well, it was a slow build from 2012 and I remember hitting 50k in the summer of 2015 and feeling like it was a big deal. It snowballed from there.
Andres: It’s been a slow build for me. But after showing gym progress pictures things really started to pick up.
Paul is Modeling a hot look from his and Andres collection of Dark Room Accessories..reis his way. He is a beacon of light in a world so dimly lit with unextraordinary people and nearly absent of shinning examples to follow.
Q. At what stage did you realize Instagram’s potential and that you could harness it?
Paul: I was initially gaining followers from my gym progress pictures. Working as a personal trainer, I realized a lot of people were wondering about my gym routine and diet. So, from there I started online coaching and with a decent audience I started to make some pocket money. From there it moved forward to the Dark Room brand.
Andres: I was always looking for a side gig to get some extra money and went back and forth with ideas. But after the first Dark Room calendar it was a no brainer.
Q. When did you launch your Dark Room collection?
Andres: In October 2016 I shot a calendar of Paul. It was a big success and the name of the calendar came about because it was set in a dark room.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the Dark Room brand i.e what you sell? Who is your target audience?
Andres: Calendars, T-shirts, underwear. The target audience is anyone that has a big fun and side.
Q. In the social media world followers find inspiration from the successful profiles they follow. Have you noticed this? And, who has inspired you?
Paul: Sure I have, and I can’t say I’ve been inspired by anyone else’s Instagram as I’ve always just done ‘me’. Although I respect all the big accounts that have managed to gain a lot of followers in such a short time. It’s very impressive.
Q. Followers also often dream of hanging out with or dating a successful person on social media. Do you think being in a relationship impacts the number of followers you can get as you can be deemed ‘unobtainable’? Or is this part of your attraction?
Paul: Interesting question. It doesn’t seem to stop people sliding into our DMs. It’s hard to say why people follow us. Or if they are put off following us as we are ‘unobtainable’. But I think we have a big following because a lot of people look up to as a couple. They’ve seen us grow together and build a business together.
Q. Social media also attracts a fair number of trolls who may respond negatively. How do you both react to this?
Paul: We’ve been lucky with this. Sure, there are a few trolls. But what we have learned is to not get too political or have too much of an opinion on big life events. We keep it simple, about our personal life and our business.
Q. Do you interact with your fans/followers? I would imagine that the number of messages makes it difficult. Although engaging with fans obviously helps to keep them. Tell us a bit about this.
Paul: If they are polite. We have several people that will come up and say hello in the clubs we work at and they normally say they are surprised that we are not stuck up!
Andres: Some DMs will be responded too but none that are disrespectful of us as a couple.
Q. Does the amount of exposure put pressure on the relationship? If so, how do you deal with it?
Paul: We’ve been together for over 10 years and we built a strong bond and relationship a long time before the days of social media. Plus, we are both laid back and don’t have jealousy issues, so it just works for us. Although We can understand how others would maybe find it difficult. It doesn’t work for everybody.
Q. How do family and friends react to your exposure?
Paul: They find it funny but don’t ask too many questions. They know we’re running a business from it and couldn’t be more supportive.
Q. What’s next ‘career-wise’ for you both?
Andres: Travelling more and making Dark Room as big as possible!