‘It’s like my baby’: This is what it’s like to run a celebrity fan account with 100k followers
‘I never expected it to get this big’
Like every other human in the world, Becca’s day begins by checking her phone. But she’s not checking Twitter, Instagram and her personal accounts – she’s looking for new pictures of Timothée Chalamet. She checks Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and all of his socials. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait until she wakes up to search. If it’s the Golden Globes, or indeed any red carpet event, or a press tour, she’ll stay up all night gathering pictures of Timothée. As soon as something new crops up, she fact checks it, makes sure the picture is the highest quality she can possibly find, and shares it to her Timothée fan account. The account has 95,900 followers.
Becca is just one of the thousands of Timothée Chalamet fan accounts. A drop in the ocean. An even smaller drop in the abyss of total fan accounts: there are hundreds for each celeb. Name any celeb, there will be a stan account out there – even if it’s lingering about in the Instagram nether with a weird username, 60 followers, and hasn’t posted since 2013. You’ve probably stumbled upon fan accounts before, likely when you’re perusing the Insta search function to follow a certain celeb. You might even already follow some. But behind the scenes, these accounts are borne out of hard work and a deep appreciation for the celebrities they’re based on.
In her 20s and studying Graphic Design at college, Becca assigns every bit of her free time to maintaining @tchalametdaily, which is now three years old. As Becca describes, the inception of the account came from simply laying eyes on Timothée for the first time in 2017. “I saw the first trailer for Call Me By Your Name and it was like BOOOOOOOM!!!!!!” she said. So the obsession began.
Becca looked into his past work and watched all his films. She followed him on social media but quickly noticed he had very few followers – “he wasn’t very well know in those days,” she says. Becca wanted to keep track of his upcoming projects, but he wasn’t always promoting them on his own Instagram and wasn’t big enough of a deal back then to have many committed fan accounts. “There were existing accounts,” she told The Tab, “but sadly none of them were very active, so I thought making my own update account would be fun. I don’t even know why that came to mind – I had no idea how to run a fan account at that point.”
Becca said gathering followers on the account was slow to start – not many people knew of Timothée to begin with. Call Me By Your Name hadn’t even dropped, and Chalamania was yet to infect the unwitting youth. “To start with I was posting pictures and getting no likes,” Becca said, “but since I’ve always thought of tchalametdaily as a way of entertainment and not a job, I didn’t really pay attention to it, I was just having fun with it!”
After CMBYN, Timothée blew up. He gained an Oscar nomination, a myriad of upcoming projects, and thousands of fan accounts spawned seemingly overnight. But tchalametdaily, being one of the originals, only grew in size. Did Becca ever think it would get this big? “Ha! Not at all! Believe me when I said that when I first started my account I never thought it would still exist in three years time. The fact that it’s almost at 100,000 followers is crazy.”
Becca donates a lot of time to the account – sometimes hours a day. “When Timothée is promoting any of his projects and or is attending any events, it’s pretty overwhelming to post updates, ” she says. “Because it is happening at that very moment there’s so much stuff being posted so it takes me a little bit longer to post and find the right sources. And you gotta be fast. Time is key while running a fan page. When a trailer or poster of a movie Timothée’s in drops sometimes it will be released at 6am my time, or other events will happen at 3am. I will not go to sleep at all – I’ll stay up for it – or put in my alarm to wake up and make sure to post whatever’s dropping seconds after it’s out. It’s always fun and nice to see people commenting on those new posts though, it’s really rewarding.”
But having a large following is stressful, too. Becca often worries about posting an update that could be inaccurate or untrue – she doesn’t want to play any part in perpetuating fake news. “Sometimes it feels overwhelming the number of people who are trusting me to bring them the best Timothée updates. I don’t wanna share news or things that are not true – that’s why I always try to confirm the source.”
Three of the people running fan accounts I spoke to were in their 20s, but some are much younger. Hema, who runs a Taylor Swift fan account with 26,000 followers, is 14 years old. She lives in India and still goes to school, which she says occasionally gets in the way of how often she can update.
Hema started her Taylor updates fan account, @taylorswiftmissamericana, in summer 2018 after being a fan of Taylor for over a year. “Her music and her speeches helped me through some really hard times, so I wanted to support her by starting a fan account, which is a little thing I can do,” Hema told The Tab.
Gaining followers on her Taylor Swift fan account was a sluggish process. Unlike Becca, Hema didn’t have a jumpstart on Taylor’s fame. Taylor released her first single the same year that Hema was born, 2006, so fan accounts were well established by the time Hema joined the game. “It took me seven months to get 800 followers,” she told The Tab. “But six months after that, I had 4000 followers. It’s really hard to get people to follow you for your content instead of just follow backs, and there are thousands of fan accounts for Taylor out there. So if I’m considered one of the big accounts now, I’m really honored.” According to Hema, @taylorswiftmissamericana is the biggest Taylor fan page based in India.
The title is nice, but it means there’s a lot of pressure on Hema to be fast – and first. “If something happens in Taylor’s life, I should update everything within minutes, which is hard as I’m just 14 and I have other stuff to do like schooling.” As well as school, Hema has to contend with other fan accounts and deal with her content being stolen too. She often posts memes about Taylor in tweet formats, which get taken by other Taylor pages and used without full credit. “It really annoys me when some other big accounts post my tweets cause it won’t let my post get a good reach among people” But she says other than that, there’s “no big race” as “everyone here is only to support their idol, not for likes.”
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I’ve started to think that she left the house😔 Follow @taylorswiftmissamericana for more!!! . . . . @taylorswift @taylornation . . #taylor #swift #taylorswift #swifties #Swiftieforever #taylorswiftmissamericana #loverworldtour2020 #indianswiftie #tay #reputation #rep #tayloralisonswift #taylornation #tswift #istandwithtaylor #lover #music #singer #tayloristheworld #song #singing #flawless #lovertaylorswift #reputationstadiumtour
But according to other fan account owners, more followers doesn’t necessarily equal more stress. 22-year-old Tamy is based in Brazil and runs a Harry Styles fan account with 164,000 followers. She says manning the account is “therapeutic” for her. Like Becca, Tamy amassed this level of following largely because of the age of her account. Tamy’s update account, @thisharrystyles, was set up in 2014 when Tamy was just 16 years old.
You’d think running the same account and posting daily would get tiring once you’ve done it for six years, but Tamy doesn’t mind at all. “I just keep an eye on news sites about candids or Twitter, TikTok or someone sends me a message on the direct and says ‘look I took a picture with Harry recently’ or I see a publication saying the same and say ‘can I post your picture on my page?’ It’s not too hard. My daily time on Instagram is approximately two hours.”
Tamy admits her screentime is too high, and wishes it were lower, especially when you take into account the hours on other apps. But she admires Harry so much and enjoys updating her followers, so she never plans on stopping. Tamy told The Tab: “What I can say is that I wouldn’t be able to dedicate my time to an account for any other famous person. I love many artists, actors, and bands but I really wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for Harry Styles. He’s just an amazing human being that I want to be up to date with, so I like to update other people too!”
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Harry with a fan in Rome, Italy today July 31, 2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . #harry #edward #styles #loveislove #harrystyles #harold #hazza #harrystan #harryupdates #harryvideos #harrystylesvideos #signofthetimes #treatpeoplewithkindness #onedirection #kiwi #chooselove #allthelove #tpwk #harrie #harries #doyouknowwhoyouare #lightsup #FineLine #LoveOnTour #LoveOnTour2021 #watermelonsugar #adoreyou #eroda #falling #italy
But not all fan accounts are about updates, nor are they necessarily interested in high follower counts. Charlisaesthetic, named for Charli XCX, is actually a pretty loose example of a fan account. Its every fourth or sixth post is Charli, as opposed to every single post on other fan accounts. This is because Soraya, its owner, runs it as an “aesthetic” fan account. It’s more of a mood board for those who are interested in Charli XCX’s style and vibe than an update account. It’s smaller than the other accounts, with just 1.5k followers – but Charli herself is one of them. None of the other accounts were followed by their respective subjects, so what makes this one different?
For one, Charli is a smaller celebrity (she boasts just 3.7 million followers on her Instagram compared to a stonking 9 mil, 139 mil and 30 mil for Timothee, Taylor and Harry) and she’s notably more interactive with fans. But like follower growth, the key to getting Charli to follow the account was longevity. Soraya, who runs the account, started it in 2014 – a year after Charli’s first album was released. Charli only really blew up when her second album, Sucker (featuring hit singles like Boom Clap and Doing It with Rita Ora) came out – so she was under the radar at this point. Soraya had less than a hundred or so followers when Charli first followed the page. “I uploaded about 10 posts and followed a lot of angels, [Charli XCX fans], tagged Charli in posts and within a week she followed me,” Soraya told The Tab. Her following shot up after Charli interacted with the account, but only to 200 followers or so.
Unlike update accounts, a high follower count has never been the purpose for Soraya – @charlisaesthetic is more like a blog. “I’m a creative person so I look up different types of fashion, makeup, design, art. I actually really enjoy curating and getting posts ready for my account. A lot of Charli fans have a similar aesthetic (2000s/90s) and I think they enjoy having various types of posts rather than just uploading pictures of Charli.
“I’ve had the account for 6 years now and still enjoy running the account. In some way it’s like a personal diary, uploading a daily post.”
Regardless of the follower counts of the fan pages and the level of fame of their respective idols, these fan account owners all had one thing in common: pride. Every single person responded with absolute certainty, “no”, when I asked them if they’d ever consider selling their account. Many of these pages have been crafted over a number of years and connections have been built with their followers. They are trusted sources for the lives and updates of celebrities and have follower counts and social media skills that put many companies and brands to shame. It may seem like a silly side project to some, but it means the world to them – and to their followers. As Hema said to me, “this account is everything to me – it’s my baby”.