In­stant hit on In­sta­gram sur­prises ‘wa­verider’ Liam

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

In lit­tle more than a year Liam Martin has gone from a reg­u­lar high school stu­dent to a so­cial me­dia phe­nom­e­non.

The 16-year-old has gath­ered an as­tound­ing 116,000 fol­low­ers from around the globe since open­ing an ac­count un­der the name ‘@wa­verid­er_’ on pho­to­shar­ing site In­sta­gram.

‘‘It just amazes me ev­ery day how I got to 110,000. I never thought I’d get that many,’’ he says.

‘‘I feel quite cool, I feel like Han­nah Mon­tana.’’

The Block­house Bay res­i­dent has gath­ered fol­low­ers as far afield as the United States for his com­i­cal im­ages that play off pop­u­lar memes.

Memes are pieces of in­ter­net con­tent that spread vi­rally.

His pho­tos are taken on a cam­era and clev­erly edited in Pho­to­shop be­fore be­ing loaded to his In­sta­gram ac­count. He even gets his mum Karen in on the act – she takes many of the pho­tos. She says she is of­ten taken aback by her son’s ‘‘crazy’’ ideas.

‘‘But then he does it and I see some of the end re­sults and I’m like: ‘ Oh my good­ness I’d never of thought of some­thing like that’.’’

Each post av­er­ages around 12,000 ‘‘likes’’ from other users and his bed­room wall is cov­ered in fan-mail.

‘‘I’m very weird and open. I think that’s why I get so many fol­low­ers, be­cause I’m my­self,’’ Liam says.

But with great pop­u­lar­ity comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity. Liam says he feels ob­li­gated to post an im­age at least once a day.

‘‘It’s a thing: I have to get home, I have to post a photo. Even if I’m out, I have to go home and post a photo. That’s how much I put my time into it,’’ he says.

His goal is to reach a quar­ter of a mil­lion fol­low­ers.

In­sta­gram is be­com­ing ev­er­more pop­u­lar among teenagers, Univer­sity of Auck­land se­nior lec­turer in mar­ket­ing Cather­ine Frethey-Ben­tham says.

She has con­ducted much of her aca­demic re­search on so­cial me­dia and says the net­work’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity among teens is its lack of ap­peal for older gen­er­a­tions.

‘‘Par­ents, grand­par­ents, teach­ers and priests are prob­a­bly on Face­book but they are not ac­tive on In­sta­gram so [youths] can get away with a bit more than where their fam­ily mem­bers are watch­ing.’’

But Dr Frethey-Ben­tham warns that like any so­cial me­dia In­sta­gram is open to mis­use. ‘‘The sin­gle most im­por­tant thing to re­alise is that, by de­fault, any­one can view the pho­tos that you upload to In­sta­gram. If you only want your fol­low­ers to see your pho­tos, then you need to set your pro­file to pri­vate.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Wa­verider: Liam Martin is rid­ing a wave of pop­u­lar­ity with his In­sta­gram ac­count that has more than 116,000 fol­low­ers.

Just chill­ing: Liam’s mum Karen took this photo which got more than 12,000 likes on In­sta­gram.

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