To the uninitiated, a cursory scroll through Jeremy Jauncey’s Instagram feed might give the impression that he’s just one of the many good-looking people who have made a career out of social media.
But, somewhat infuriatingly, that’s not the whole story. Because as well as being enviably handsome and Instagram-famous, Jauncey is also in possession of a sharp business brain – a triple threat, if you will. No sponsored posts about detox tea or ‘personal appearances’ at dodgy provincial nightclubs for him. No, sir.
Behind the stunning travel pictures on @BeautifulDestinations and his personal feed (private islands in the Maldives, helicopter rides over Manhattan) a fully-fledged business is whirring away. The company now has about 40 employees spread across offices in New York (where Jauncey, a Scot, now spends most of his time), London and Hong Kong.
Gentleman’s Journal met Jauncey on the heated terrace of Mark’s Club in Mayfair, to discuss how what started out as a “passion project” has now morphed into what might be “the biggest millennial travel community on social” — with some 20 million followers across Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat and other social media.
There is no single formula for successful social content
“We go to brands – mainly countries and governments – and say to them: ‘How are you positioning yourself for the next generation of travellers?’” To tourism authorities, Jauncey says, “what we’re really pushing is this idea of modern-day nation-branding.”
Although the main Beautiful Destinations feed has a distinctive signature – defined by vivid colours and positive messaging – Jauncey says there is no single formula for successful social content. Just as the material has to be made to fit the medium and the device that’s used to consume it, the stories that brands tell and the style they adopt has to be right for the target audience.
He plans to take advantage of Netflix’s big budgets
There are also “big moves” planned in entertainment and video streaming. “Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Facebook Watch – all those guys are spending so much on content now that we just see that as a huge opportunity for our business,” says Jauncey.
He hopes to apply what the company has done with short videos on Instagram to longer episodes for these streaming platforms. To help make it all happen there have been a number of senior hires; the former creative director of Puma, a senior vice president of video who worked at USA Today and a former publisher of Conde Nast Traveller have all recently come on board.
The key to worldwide success is to tap into local tech
Now Jauncey’s sights are set on growing the business in two main areas: China and Hollywood. He says that since starting out on the Chinese Facebook equivalent Weibo 18 months ago, the company has already attracted 2 million followers on the platform and has plans to launch on WeChat, the all-consuming messaging app.
Instagram has built Jauncey’s career — but he recognises its dangers
As instrumental as Instagram has been in his own success, Jauncey doesn’t shy away from the problems it can create. We should be open to conversations about links between social media and mental health problems, he says, particularly where young people are concerned.
There are people who “think their life is validated by social media and that everything they do needs to be shared to build digital popularity.” But, he says, “It’s actually nonsense, really. It’s important to know that social media is what you choose to share about your life. It is not your life.”
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