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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Rawan bin Hussain’s top tips to becoming a seriously successful online influencer 

The Kuwaiti Instagrammer Hussain is now based in London, where she manages her social media career alongside studying for a law degree

Rawan Bin Hussain has been dubbed 'the Brooke Shields of Kuwait'. David Abdulla
Rawan Bin Hussain has been dubbed 'the Brooke Shields of Kuwait'. David Abdulla

Rawan bin Hussain is a Kuwaiti model, beauty blogger and entrepreneur with three million followers on Instagram. And yet the 21-year-old influencer went public with her online profile only three years ago. Hussain is now based in London, where she manages her social media career alongside studying for a law degree. Here, she shares her top tips for becoming a social ­media sensation.

Make your social media public

A post shared by Rawan Bin Hussain (@rawan) on

Hussain’s social media fame came about almost by accident – and it’s all thanks to a broken heart. “Three years ago, my high-school sweetheart and I broke up. I wanted to make him jealous. What did I do? I made my Instagram page public,” she says.

Back then, she was studying in Los Angeles. A magazine found her Instagram, which was growing in followers, and compared her look to that of American actress Brooke Shields. “Suddenly the hashtag #Brooke­ShieldsofKuwait began trending on Twitter. I never knew that in three years, I’d have three million followers. I never meant for things to go that way. I just wanted my high-school sweetheart to come back.

Know your audience

Since the Brooke Shields comparison, Hussain has caught the attention of several well-known brands. In 2016, she became the face of Maybelline in the Middle East. She has also collaborated with the likes of Gucci, Lancome and Charlotte Tilbury, to name a few. This year, she started her own make-up line, House of Rawan.

“Through my experience [as a brand ambassador], I know what the market wants. But more importantly, I know what any normal girl is looking for in a beauty product. That’s why I came up with my line, Essentials by House of Rawan. They are essential colours that go with every skin tone and skin colour,” she says.

Hussain has become a huge success – she’s rumoured to be worth more than US$1 million (Dh3.7m).

Have an interesting story

A post shared by Rawan Bin Hussain (@rawan) on

With so many people vying for fame online, it’s simply not enough to take selfies all day. Hussain, who is studying law at the University of Westminster, credits her social media success to having varied interests outside the beauty world.

“I got so many followers because I have an interesting lifestyle. I do full-time law school and part-time aviation. To me, education comes first. Whether you have lots of money or not, you’re nothing without education. I’ve had million-dollar offers to move to places like Dubai and I said no. Because my whole life, I’ve worked so much to get good grades in high school to come to London and study.”

Don’t let the haters get you down

Most social media stars have to put up with criticism from online trolls. But Hussain, who says she was bullied as a teenager for being overweight, has faced a torrent of abuse from cyberbullies who have criticised the way she looks.

“Cyberbullies had a whole campaign on Twitter, a trending hashtag making fun of my body, about my size,” she says. “But I don’t care. I work with luxury brands, I work with fashion houses and very well-known designers. I got bullied so much in school for being overweight, but I put all my effort and all my energy into graduating as a top student and on working on myself – and look where I am today.”

Keep your private life private

When you live your life on social media, the lines between public and private can quickly become blurred. Although Hussain shares a lot about her life and her travels, she makes sure that she keeps her family away from her Insta pictures and Snapchat.

“I never snap my family. My parents, sisters and brothers are very low profile and they don’t like to be seen in public. But in general, maybe because I’m young, I love the media. I love going out and having people recognise me and say ‘hi’ to me,” she says.

Be honest with your followers

A post shared by Rawan Bin Hussain (@rawan) on

Hussain lives a life that most people her age can only dream of, jetting from Dubai to New York for glamorous photo shoots and the like. But she is keen to let her fans know that her lifestyle is paid for by sponsorship deals. “Most of our stuff as influencers is sponsored,” she admits. “If I’m wearing a $1m necklace, it’s not mine. The hotel I stayed in for my 21st birthday in New York was for free. I even get paid to promote tourism in countries. I always try to give an honest, genuine reflection of who I am in real life.”

Remember you’re a role model

As fellow Kuwaiti Instagrammer Sondos Al Qattan learnt to her cost, mindlessly spouting your opinions online can have serious repercussions. Hussain says that as her fame has grown, she has become more aware of her responsibility as a role model for her fans.

“In the beginning, I said stuff that got me in so much trouble because I was young. I used to Snap[chat] anything and say anything and I’d get fire back, hate campaigns. When you’re young, you’re irresponsible. Now after three years, I feel that responsibility. Because three million is not just a number, it’s three million hearts, three million souls and three million people with feelings.”

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Read more:

Kuwaitis call Sondos Al Qattan's video an 'embarrassment'

Australian government bans influencers in campaigns

When the influence is real: social media accounts we actually find inspiring

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