'Influencers in the Wild' exposes the wild things people will do for the perfect social media photo


How does an Instagram account get 1.5 million followers in just one month?

Answer: By exposing the thing nearly everyone is guilty of — doing anything it takes to get that perfect photo.

That’s the idea that’s made Influencers In The Wild such a viral phenomenon. The page, founded by Tank Sinatra (not his real name, but as he told In The Know, it might as well be), has exploded in popularity since launching in earlyJanuary.

Sinatra told In The Know that he got the idea for the account on a business trip to Los Angeles. He was walking through Griffith Park, and saw a girl climbing a tree before posing for a selfie.

"I thought, 'Man, I wish there was an account getting into all this because you see it everywhere.' My next thought was, 'Why do I have to wish there was an account?'" he told In The Know.

And the idea took off. Sinatra — who runs multiple other successful Instagram pages, including "Tank’s Good News" — started gathering videos of his "influencers" and sharing them on his other accounts. Within two weeks, the idea "exploded," according to Sinatra, eventually reaching 1.5 million followers within a little more than a month.

Influencers In The Wild now even has its own submissions page — similar to other popular accounts like the New York-based page, Subway Creatures — where fans can send in their own sightings of elaborate photo-ops. Sinatra said the success has been exciting, but also noted that he now gets "hundreds" of videos sent to him each day.

"[Receiving the videos] is like telling someone, 'Hey I’m a little thirsty, can I have a sip of water?' and they go, 'Yeah sure. And just open up a fire hydrant and blast you in the face,'" Sinatra Told In The Know.

The page’s success might seem drastic, but Sinatra thinks there’s a simple reason why it’s become so popular — relatability. To him, everyone has some version of an online self, and all his account does is highlight that fact.

"I cannot emphasize this point enough: We are all influencers whether we like it or not," he told In The Know.

"It’s self-referential," he added. "People enjoy it because they do it and they feel silly when they take a picture, so they’re kind of getting a voyeuristic look into what they think they feel like."

A look through the account makes it clear that some people are certainly willing to go to further extremes than others, but to Sinatra, that’s totally OK. He told In The Know that, in reality, the page is just a "celebration of content culture," which can come in many forms.

The videos are often outrageous — showing Instagrammers flipping over cars, stripping in public and even climbing into dumpsters for their photos — but for Sinatra, those moments highlight a universal desire to be noticed.

"Social media creates this connection, but also it creates the desire to be validated," he told In The Know. "And everybody has it. I have it, my mom has it, my stepdaughter, my friends, everybody has it — and no one’s immune to caring what people think about them."