Ruby Benson, above all else, is a rare example of authenticity and unrestrained creativity in the highly saturated world of Instagram. In the era of the influencer, conformity to common & fleeting trends dominates the social media landscape – but it’s also created a new fluid idea of success. The term “influencer” is at once tiresome yet unavoidable. But there’s a big difference between being an influencer and a content creator. Ruby’s nearly 60,000 Instagram followers know they’re getting more than ads for fit tea and teeth whitener. Brands know it too – Benson has collaborated with and produced content for Chanel, Gucci, BMW MINI, Off-White, Calvin Klein and L’Oreal, among others.
On her blog, Rags and Ruby, the content creator, writer, model and creative director showcases her diverse portfolio of work, emphasizing her love for fashion, beauty and wellness. Whether she’s in front of the camera or behind it, Benson’s images are undoubtedly creative, captivating and convey meaning and purpose. One thing is clear from talking to Ruby: it’s not about having a certain number of followers, it’s about what you give them.
We were lucky enough to chat with Ruby to get her thoughts on social media, authenticity, influencer culture and her creative process.
You graduated from MIT at Western in 2013. How, if at all, did that program inform your approach to your career in the digital sphere? Has it influenced your creative direction/approach to your online image or style?
I loved MIT, it taught me to think outside the box theoretically. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it had a large role in shaping who I am creatively, but I still enjoyed my time at school and feel it was valuable. Instagram wasn’t really around or popular until my last year of university, so we didn’t really focus much on that back then.
As a content creator, what does being authentic mean to you, on and offline?
Pretty simple, staying true to yourself. There’s such a saturation of everyone doing the same thing online – I think it’s important to create meaningful content that you’re actually proud of AND that differs from the masses.
*Remember when Elise Purdon also said if she’s not excited about the content, it’s not for her?
What’s your opinion of the word “influencer?”
I think everyone is an “influencer” to some degree – for example a librarian is an influencer if they help you pick out a book.
Is there a difference between being an “influencer” and a “content creator” in the social media landscape?
I believe an “Instagram influencer” and a “content creator” differ dramatically. An “influencer” is more so someone who takes selfies holding up products to promote with not much creativity actually going into the photo. You will see this a lot with celebrities (who, to be fair, got thrust into this Instagram hoopla – I don’t think half of them actually care about it or want it – but they are being used as marketing machines on the app). I believe a TRUE content creator is someone who enjoys producing images/videos that actually hold meaning and have a creative edge. Content creators don’t necessarily have to have a large following as they care more about the content they are producing and less about the numbers. With influencers, it’s all a numbers game because that’s all they have to offer.
Can you describe your creative process when deciding what to post? Is there pressure to stay consistent?
I really just post what I want. I definitely feel pressured to post often, but I end up hating my feed if it’s just a bunch of rushed/basic outfit photos of me standing around or mirror selfies. I like my feed best when every photo has a creative concept to it. If Instagram wasn’t my primary source of income, I’d definitely post less photos of me and more creative shots (but obviously the photos of me perform the best).
Describe your relationship with your followers – how important is engagement? What is the best part and the worst part about being in the public eye?
I try to respond to everyone who sends me messages or leaves me comments (granted that they aren’t inappropriate and/or unreasonable questions). I think it’s important to engage with your audience the best you can because at the end of the day your audience are a small or large group of people that are supporting you – and I think that’s really cute 🙂
Just for fun, could you share with us your top 3 pieces of advice regarding wellness? Tips + tricks would be fabulous!
I think the current “wellness” industry makes you think that if you aren’t taking 50 supplements a day, working out twice a day, and drinking celery juice every morning, you are unhealthy.
My best piece of advice is to block out all of the noise and find out what’s best for you. Learn about and listen to your body and what makes it feel good. One thing that always makes me feel great is writing in my gratitude journal. I have a blank notebook that I write in 3 things that I’m grateful for every day. It always makes me smile looking back at old journals and reading what small (or big) things made me happy throughout the year.
Give us a shout if there’s an influencer you think we should get in touch with!