As a social media marketer, Real Housewives and pop culture uberfan, and super popular Instagram influencer, there's lots of comedic material.
Q&A with Hayden Cohen
How did this all start?
My full-time job is working with influencers, and I love it. It's something that I'm really passionate about. I was able to leverage experiences from there onto my social and be able to poke fun at those experiences. It's been really interesting to do and to figure it out while I'm going.
I call [my social media] not my “day job” or my not “real job,” but it's become a real business outside of my current day job. I see them both now as a work-life integration, as opposed to a balance, because my life is my work, and my work is my life.
I think there's a thin line that I straddle with this being like a joke, but also, I take it very seriously as a business. Recently, I've been diving into it more and taking it more seriously and putting together a business plan.
How did mocking the influencer culture (including yourself) become your brand?
At my age, we started on MySpace, grew into Facebook, which transitioned over to Instagram. Now, we're transitioning to TikTok, too. There was nobody poking fun at the ridiculous things people we follow online were doing.
It's all in good humor, because I make fun of myself at the end of the day. I was taking a look at myself and really seeing the funny things that I was doing and mocking those, and then it spiraled from there into getting inspiration from other people … influencer culture in general.
I think there's a huge unknown about influencer culture. People don't really understand all of the work that it takes, and I personally didn't until I started getting a following online.
It's easy to poke fun at people who put themselves out there. You look at the Kardashians and their life is all out there, so people are going to make memes about them and poke fun at them.
I feel like influencers are just another version of that because they're also putting their lives out there. It's hard to do that, and with that comes a lot of material to find humor in, to exaggerate.
That's really what I found success doing, taking these things that are really common in influencer culture, and exaggerating them, making them more humorous, just trying to get a chuckle out of it all.
Do fellow influencers ever take offense of your gentle mocking?
There's a fine line I walk. I don't want my content to be mean-spirited. I want it to be very light.
I would say the funniest thing that's come from creating my content is that I've become friends with a lot more influencers, and a lot more influencers have been able to poke fun at themselves. They don't realize what they're doing until they see a video of me making fun of what they're doing, and they're like, “Oh my God, I literally do this! That's something I didn't even realize. Look how funny this is.”
That's where I've been able to grow a lot, because influencers are … it's a very competitive industry, but it's also very community based. When you make friends with somebody, they share your content. It really helps you grow online.
What’s your most popular post ever?
There's two. One that went viral that got me a ton of followers was ‘If Influencers Unboxed the Vaccine.’ That was at the very beginning of the pandemic, and I was poking fun at if influencers got the vaccine before everyone else. I used one of my nephew's feeding [syringes] to pretend it was the vaccine. People thought that was hilarious. It got shared a lot; I think it has nine or ten million views.
The second one was a year ago when my nephew was born. It was ‘If Influencers Unboxed Their Newborns.’ It was like, ‘Hi, guys. Look what came in the mail. I've been waiting for it for nine months.’ That took off, too. Those two really skyrocketed and helped me grow my audience a lot.
Hayden Cohen is the director of influencer marketing at a social media marketing boutique agency in Boston. He became an influencer himself by utilizing everything he learned in his day job and applying it to spoof influencer-culture.
Interviewed by Kimberly Potts