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Influence Peddler: Amy Pham Gears Up for Beautycon

Ahead of the festival in Los Angeles, one of Beautycon's brand ambassadors shares secrets to her social media success.

If you haven’t heard of Amy Pham, you likely will soon. The DJ-turned-fashion-and-beauty-influencer, known to her 500,000 Instagram followers as @iamamypham, just signed a deal to be one of five hosts for MTV’s revival of “TRL,” set to air this fall.

In the meantime, Pham, who has partnered with beauty brands such Cover Girl, Maybelline and Smashbox, is gearing up for Beautycon Festival in Los Angeles, held Aug. 12 and 13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Pham is a Beautycon Brand Ambassador, which means she’ll be covering the megaevent on her social channels.

Ahead of Beautycon, WWD spoke with Pham — a frequent jetsetter due to her work schedule — about why Instagram is better than Snapchat and emergency beauty shopping at the JFK International Airport.

WWD: What are your platforms of choice and why?

Amy Pham: With Instagram, I have better engagement. I used to use Snapchat to have more of a personal connection, but Instagram Stories does a much better job at that. Instagram is kind of all in one for me. I use it heavily for business, keeping up with friends and also giving people who want to know more about what I’m involved in a look at my day to day. [My] numbers are higher on Facebook than on Instagram, but the audience [there] feels like they don’t know me as well. On Instagram, there’s more of a connection with people who comment and like my posts.

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WWD: What kinds of posts get the most engagement?

A.P: The most engaging posts [on Instagram] are the ones I’m not expecting to do well, the ones I just throw up thinking “Whatever.” They’re just on the spot, they’re not brand deals — it gives people a sense of who you are versus the more glamorous, polished photos. The engagement isn’t as strong on a post that’s not casual or intimate. Instagram Stories has done really well recently — I’ve noticed more people are going from Snapchat to Instagram.

WWD: What works on Instagram Stories?

A.P: Just a day in the life type of thing — when I’m shooting, there are a lot of funny in-the-moment events that might happen behind the scenes. I usually spill food on myself when I’m at a fancy event and I’ll throw that in there. Even though I go to nice events and have to look camera-ready, I’m still a human being and will trip and fall. [Stories] is my opportunity to show people the more lighthearted, serious side of me. It’s also [showing] my audience my personality and what I sound like. It gives them more of a connection to me versus somebody who just posts pretty pictures and a bunch of selfies.

WWD: What do your followers want to see more of?

A.P: They request makeup details, [like] where I got it — but that’s typical. Some of them have requested more workout posts. I do work out, but I don’t really post too much about it because I’m not a fitness trainer, but people are naturally very interested in someone else’s workout tips even if they’re not [a professional]. I’ll make a YouTube video of my workout [routine] eventually.

WWD: Working with so many brands, how do you make sponsored posts feel authentic?

A.P: I try to inject as much personality as I can and make it visually appealing. Everything on [my] Instagram is my creative vision — I get to style it. Say it’s a fashion brand, I’ll put a lot into it — where I want to shoot the outfit, how I want to style it. A lot of times brands want their own verbiage [in the post]…but I always have to make captions sound like they’re coming from me. It can be alienating when the captions [sound like ads]. I tend to post jokey captions and poke fun at myself, because I know you see a lot of ads on Instagram, but you can still do it in a fun, entertaining way that isn’t product placement.

WWD: Who do you like to follow on social media?

A.P: I like to follow people I meet in person — that tends to be people I work with. On the plane the other day I had a great conversation with someone — Instagram is just a way to stay connected. Most of the accounts I follow [who I don’t know personally] are random fitness ones, one is @squats because I like to go to the gym and I’ll take a look at it if I need to go to the gym.

WWD: Where do you like to shop for clothes?

A.P: Forever 21, Topshop, H&M — all the very affordable mall brands because my whole philosophy for fashion and clothes is about the actual outfit and how I put pieces and colors and textures, not the designer label.

WWD: What are your favorite beauty products?

A.P: I’ve been really enjoying this Chanel foundation, the Le Teint Ultra Tenue — that one is the only luxury beauty product I have because I bought it at the airport. I was at JFK trying to catch a flight to L.A. because I had a DJ set that night. There were tons of delays and worst-case scenario, I figured I’d go straight from the airport in L.A. to the gig. But my bag with my makeup was checked. JFK doesn’t have a Sephora, which I thought they did. I tried the Benefit vending machine and bought three things, but the fourth one got caught, so I had to go figure that out. The only store in JFK that sold makeup was this luxury store that sold perfumes and maybe 30 percent luxury makeup. This foundation was one of the recommendations the [counter] lady gave me. The shade matches my skin perfectly and it feels great. Before that, I’d never tried a Chanel foundation — it’s so expensive.