The Northern Ireland influencers who reach millions of people around the world

Influencers in Northern Ireland reach millions of people every day.

As part of a new UTV digital series we meet some of those who regularly ride, or set, global social media trends.

Nathan Hanna explores how they work, the impact they have and what effect their social media rise has had on them.

Teacher Caroline McKenna hosts one of the world's top podcasts detailing her move from Co Down to Australia for A County Down Under. She is also behind the 'Social Sunrise' trend which sees people gather around the world to see a new day break.

"I never saw any of this coming," she says, "I moved to Sydney, to Australia, I planned to only be here for six months and it has been seven years.

"I came through the pandemic when I was locked away from my family in Ireland - just like so many others and couldn't get home and decided to look on social media and podcasts for people who were struggling living abroad and struggled to find content anywhere so decided to do a podcast."

Caroline had no experience of producing podcasts. She bought a microphone and with the help of her students learned how to record.

"I never thought anyone would listen but I just went on this little rant for 15 minutes of how we show these picture perfect lives of living abroad and sometimes it is really hard.

"Those 15 minutes changed my life."

As part of the new UTV series we look at how social media has transformed the lives of those in the spotlight.

The likes of TikTok and Instagram have thrust many into the spotlight.

One family-owned department store in Newtownards was catapulted from some 600 followers to almost 200,000 when it was highlighted by one popular influencer.

Wardens originally set up to showcase some of its goods for sale and improve its customer base.

"It's very strange from being a shop assistant to then going out and hearing people pump their horns and shouting 'there's Mr TikTok','" Jonathan Sloan told UTV.

"It's worldwide..."

Sophy Grier is part of an Abba tribute act and has hit fame singing in her car.

"It is hard to imagine that... you get messages from people in Brazil, messages from people in Luxembourg.

"It's crazy to think people all around the world are watching me sitting somewhere like Carrickfergus."

While hitting trends can bring many new likes and followers, there is also a dark side to social media.

Just before a dinner with her mum, Caroline checked her phone to see some negative feedback to one of her videos.

"Someone had sent a message just basically saying you are a dose... for the next three or four days I didn't want to do anything, I started questioning who I was... I felt everyone was laughing at me after that I took a break from social media for a month."

Over the coming weeks we'll be bringing you all you need to know about these rising stars and what makes them tick.

Watch the first episode here: A County Down Under and sunrise social: How Caroline McKenna hit the global trends

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