Interview With An Influencer: Tony Zaret

The term “social media rock star” gets thrown around a lot these days — and with good reason. While as recently as 10 years ago most young people with dreams of fame imagined standing on a stage performing rock songs to adoring crowds, today it’s infinitely cooler to be performing on Instagram to adoring followers. And no one embodies this new paradigm of rock stardom more than social influencer Tony Zaret, who has posted content on platforms as diverse as Tumblr, Twitter, Yik-Yak and JingleBox (the only social network exclusively for Christmas-oriented erotic photo captions.) Medium.com sat down with Zaret to talk about how he grew his personal brand with a content-first, content-SECOND strategy.

MEDIUM: How do you structure your days?

TONY ZARET: I get up at 4am and scan Twitter for trending topics. If everyone is posting about the new Adele song, I will also post about it, and I might head into the beat lab to cook up a parody — for example, her new song is called “Hello” so I would get to work writing something called “Smell-o” about dirty socks.

MEDIUM: What tools do you find indispensable for creating social content?

ZARET: I have a rule — if you can’t make it on a mobile app, then it’s just a bunch of mobile CRAP. The last thing I want to do is open up a laptop or, God-forbid, pull out a pen and paper to generate content. It’s called the new millennium, not the industrial revolution so if your content platform isn’t fully mobile, you might as well be building steam engines, or really just retire and make room for trend-setting millennials like myself.

MEDIUM: What’s the best advice you ever received?

ZARET: Someone once told me, “If your content isn’t about relatable stuff like eating and staring at your phone instead of doing things that are hard like working or exercising, then you don’t belong on social media, you belong in a trash can because you suck.” Do you know who said that?

MEDIUM: Who?

ZARET: Me. To myself, in the mirror, this morning.

MEDIUM: What is still your biggest challenge?

ZARET: Requests from my followers. Everyday they are begging me for more and more content, and I can only create so much. I would like to be posting 24/7 but then when would I have time to watch the Vines and GIFs where I get my ideas from?

MEDIUM: Many times influencers have to deal with so-called “haters.” What’s your best advice for handling criticism?

ZARET: I would say you should respond with a bragadocious vlog. Turn on the camera and say something like “You wanna hate me? Go ahead. I love it. I feed on it. Shower me with hate, haters, cause when you’re hating on me, you’re just keeping my name in your mouth. I love it.”

MEDIUM: What’s next for you?

ZARET: I’m working on developing several social apps of my own, including “HateChat,” a messaging app that only sends mis-spelled curse words and middle-finger emojis.

MEDIUM: Finally, what do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

ZARET: If I can be someday mentioned in the same breath as the influencers who influenced me, then I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do. [Tay] Zonday, [Jenna] Marbles, [Pew] DiePie… Zaret? Now that’s a list I’d love to be on.

Tony Zaret can be seen live in Brooklyn, NY this weekend at the Annoyance Theater. Tickets can be purchased here: https://theannoyancenewyork.com/events/event/content-live/