Beyond the Surface Level of IG Content Creators

Editor’s note: This article was written as a part of the Fall 2019 class but was not able to be published due to website issues.

It seems as though when you tap into Instagram these days everyone is out here living their best life. 

Between it being a Hot Girl Summer to a Spooky Season, many people’s and businesses’ IG pages have been curated to fit the aesthetic of what’s currently on-trend while also establishing a niche that’s on-brand. 

“To present yourself in a way that makes you marketable or attractive to potential brand companies. Then live that life where it’s like a celebrity lifestyle,” said Pia Cortez, a 32-year-old San Francisco based fashion and book blogger.

Living in a city like San Francisco, it thrives from a variety of cultures that are always on the cutting edge of contemporary relevance as far as food, fashion, news, community, travel and so on. 

It’s become a place where Instagram content creators have formulated a community that highlights and emphasizes the exciting, chic and meaningful aspects of what places this city, among cities like New York and Los Angeles, as one of the most appealing locations in the U.S.

But as some may know it’s not the easiest to just post a photo and go. With the way the app is constantly upgrading and innovating its way of use as a business/branding tool content creators have had to become more diligent and consistent on their pages. A lot of the work that takes place behind the scenes and hours are spent hours curating a focused layout page, a theme that conveys interest in your niche, planning out location spots and being a step ahead of the algorithm.

Overall though, inviting a mass amount of people into you as a representative not only who you are but what you’re about.

What’s the main focus of your Instagram account? How and why it got started?


Akshathaa Venkat. (Paige Acosta / Xpress Magazine / Fall 2019)

Akshathaa Venkat


Fashion, Beauty, & Travel

“It started in 2017 and when I started I had no dreams of wanting to do for anyone but me. It was a creative outlet but also just a way to help my small community of friends who were always asking where it is I got this or that from? How did I mix and match and make this outfit? It’s a fusion of how you can wear whatever you want and still feel comfortable, I incorporate a little bit of the colors, textures, and patterns seen in the U.S. while at the same time incorporating my culture, so there’s a lot of how to style an Indian outfit on an everyday basis because not everyone can wear a Sari everyday. Eventually, Instagram became the main source, I noticed a lot more followers asking me about my fashion and that’s when I realized that Instagram has a bigger platform rather than a blog.”


Sabrina Zambrano Naranjo. (Paige Acosta / Xpress Magazine / Fall 2019)

Sabrina Zambrano Naranjo


Fashion & Photography

“So my mom is a photographer and so I’ve been into photography. I thought about creating it to show the world my town, I started taking pictures of landscapes and stuff. Then I moved to the city four years ago when I was 18 and it was like, oh my god I’m so in love with San Francisco and I’m gonna make it all about San Francisco. I started like discovering small spots around the city and just started posting, I didn’t tell any of my friends because I was unsure about what I was doing. Then I was studying fashion and figured that maybe my way to get into the fashion world, though like my Instagram, doing photography, and taking photos of something I’m passionate about. I then decided to change my focus, I started working with fashion bloggers so now it’s mostly lifestyle features.


Pia Cortez. (Paige Acosta / Xpress Magazine / Fall 2019)

Pia Cortez


Fashion & Books

“Personally, for me as someone who’s been doing this since 2017, starting out with books, which is like not the sexiest thing, but I wanted to promote something that I feel genuinely passionate about and something that can change people’s lives and not just to promote something for the sake of it. The industry right now, it’s easy to have celebrity status, right? Once you’re an influencer. But, I want everyone to love reading as much as I do. That’s my end goal. From the books that I read from the literature that I consume, just having a more introspective understanding of, why am I doing this, always that’s my question. This is more an issue that I have to deal with myself that I’m projecting on social media versus me just following what I really want and most of the time there’s an innate need that all of us have of just wanting to be treated nicely. Like that’s the clamor for status.”


How would you describe the 

San Francisco Instagram blogger community?


Akshathaa Venkat

Bangalore, India 

“Talking as a co-founder of Bay Area Bloggers (BABS @bayareabloggers_babs) I feel like there is a huge divide between Bay Area bloggers, the people who are in the Bay and not necessarily in San Francisco, and the bloggers who are in SF. So I feel like there’s I’m guessing because of the travel I think content-wise to SF bloggers get a lot more reach and followers compared to BABs. However, I do feel overall that a lot of them  are actually talking about a lot of issues, talking about body positivity and talk about mental health which needs a lot of awareness. I definitely do think there are amazing things coming out of San Francisco, it’s just that when you compare it to another big city like New York we are not given that much of an exposure.”


Sabrina Zambrano Naranjo

Caracas, Venezuela

“San Francisco is more than tech people. All of the fashion bloggers I’ve met they’re from different countries. Some from Korea and India. A lot of Latina fashion bloggers I follow, some of them are from Colombia or Mexico it’s a lot of diversity and I felt like if you put them all together like it’s super cool because of the different points of view and each of them like a showing a different lifestyle. Their main focus is mostly on the style of living in the city. Shopping at local stores and eating at local restaurants that show different spots in the city. For me, since I was a kid, I want to live in San Francisco, San Francisco was always like my dream city.” 


Pia Cortez

Pampanga, Philippines

“It’s so funny because the bloggers here in SF are all working in tech, like engineers. Safiya Jihan is an SF blogger who works at Microsoft and she’s like a force within the SF blogger community because she brings people together. She throws events. She does events in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, she books the W Hotel. She’s just an amazing Black Woman who just came out with her own clothing line. Also too, when I think of content creators and bloggers I feel like you can be looking at what other bloggers or influencers are doing. But you really have to go for whatever it is that inspires you and what you really want to do. For example, one of my favorite intellectuals is Teju Cole. He’s this Nigerian photographer and writer. He majored in art history and has a Ph.D. in art history, which is why it influences the way he writes, the way he does photography because he said he’s had to look at a painting and try to interpret it 100 ways. That kind of trains your mind to look at things differently.”


What do you feel your content represents about contemporary San Francisco culture?


Akshathaa Venkat 

“The U.S. is one of the largest countries which has people from all over the world. The fact that San Francisco is one of the best places where you can find people from almost all walks of life and from different cultures people who have different perspectives about things. I feel like my content does definitely cater to the crowd in San Francisco because I work with different kinds of people. A major aspect of my blogging career so far is since I come from India, and especially in a very diverse country by itself. Different states have different cultures, we have so many dialects, so many languages. But, I would say the perspective on certain things is the same. In my blog, I try to break barriers. For example, for the longest time that I know you know we’re always told that someone who’s dusky, dark skin is not attractive when compared to a fair-skinned person on TV would always show you’re fair and lucky, if you’re dark you’re not going to be happy. That’s how things were portrayed. So, I talk about things like that, because I come from the southern part of India where we’re all dusky and dark and initially we were considered very inferior. In my blog, I try and talk about what I went through as a child and how to break that notion to show them how beautiful everything is right. As I evolved as a person since I started now I do feel like I do have a brand, I do stand for something.”


Sabrina Zambrano Naranjo

“That people don’t think San Francisco is really a fashion city even though it’s among one of the fashion cities. For fashion, it also shows that you can be casual, but still look good in a way that you can go to an event and even still look high end. It’s not all about the branding boring, old expensive stuff. It shows people that you can look rich and spend little money on clothes but they make you look good.”


Pia Cortez

“I work with different local companies, businesses, and some bloggers from SF to manage their resources. So that’s like my other leg, which helps me practice my creativity and like, how to work outside of my own social. I think of my own social media as an experiment. So that’s like my other leg, I’m a digital marketer. It gets me to exercise my own writing skills on that end, I do a lot of ghostwriting. Seeing what strategies work for certain brands and companies. It’s exciting trying to figure out how to put stuff forward and that’s all because of my social media. It’s easy to be an influencer if you have a shit ton of money, right? You just buy all the clothes. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that even means, but I know it’s a big industry. There’s a bunch of venture capitalists who are trying to put money into the influencer industry.”