Behind the ‘Gram: Meet Creative Director and Entrepreneur, Steven Branco

Instagram influencers have been taking social media by storm for s. While there are many out there, when it comes to those based in Toronto, Steven Branco (@mrstevenbranco) certainly cannot be overlooked. With over 11k followers and an overflow of gorgeous posts, we just had to ask him about his journey. 

 How did you start your career as an Instagram influencer and how did you discover your niche on such a large platform?

I guess you could say that I have been ‘gramming since IG started, but I really started to take it seriously in 2018. It was then that being around influencers all the time at events and media activities that I realized that I should use my creative abilities to grow my own platform as well. Not so much focused on making money from it at that time, but more so growing and defining my audience and niche. Which I fell naturally into because I am a fashion enthusiast, especially being a fashion editor and EiC, particularly focused on Men’s lifestyle related content… so it only made sense that I focus on that because I live and breathe it.

If you could go back and do things differently, what would you change about the path you took to get where you are today?

I would have started a lot sooner. Considering I have been in the digital/media space for over 15-years, you’d think that I would have realized early on that I should have taken Instagram seriously. But surprisingly enough, my first stab at building an “influence” was actually on Twitter. Being active in the digital space, I started to join the “chatter” around social media strategy and men’s fashion… by joining regular twitter chats and engaging with the communities on there and I quickly grew up a 5k audience that quite frankly, I was so surprised to have achieved. Chatting with the likes of some gents that I really looked up to and one brag-worthy moment where Oprad retweeted one of my teams and Mario Lopez liked one of my tweets. As you can imagine, I was in twitter-heaven! Unstoppable you could say… but unfortunately the Twitter hype started to die down and I pivoted my focus to my editorial work and sadly, didn’t even think at the time to shift my attention to Instagram. But I am still happy that I did, when I did, even if it was a little later than I should.

What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to influencers?

The biggest misconception that I think exists, is that influencers (or creators… whatever you want to call them/us) is that we get paid to “be on Instagram”. It truly is soooo much more. Many of us have full-time jobs, other sources of income, or have just fallen into this because of our skills and expertise in a creative field (like me), or learning as they grow. But one thing I can say, is that the common denominator despite what the situation is, is that we do much more than spend time on Instagram. There’s content planning, engaging, strategy, client negotiations, contracting, photography, videography… etc. When you work with an influencer, you’re not just supplying graphics to be posted on their channel (or at least you shouldn’t), you should be supplying products and overall messaging for them to then create custom content in their own style to be shared with their audience. So you’re getting a still life, food and/or prop stylist, photographer/videographer, creative director, copywriter and model… all in ONE. If you’ve ever produced a photoshoot for your brand, you know it takes a lot of time, effort and money to do so. Now think doing that daily… multiple times a day. Yup, not easy right? Well, that’s the life of an influencer/creator behind the scenes.

What would you say has helped you the most to achieve the large following you have today? 

Being authentically me and being comfortable in my own skin. Putting your life out there to be criticized, poked and probed it… takes guts and confidence. So if you can’t love yourself for who you are, you likely won’t survive as an influencer. I’m sure you’ve seen and heard all the 

What has been the best experience as an influencer so far? 

Well, it’s tough to say which of my experiences was due to my role as an editor/writer and which were because I’m an influencer, but two of my all time favourite experiences in this industry were one, being invited to travel across the country with BMW and Fairmont for Canada’s 150th anniversary. It was literally the trip of a lifetime, and two, meeting my role model that I have looked up to for decades and getting to interview him one-on-one, Jim Moore.

What are some of your favorite things to post on Instagram?

My life. You’ll notice that Instagram is literally like a reality show of one’s life… with a little bit of a positive spin, or a highlight reel of sorts you might say. But some of my favourites are definitely my style content. Of which I am trying to get into the habit of creating more video content like feels, etc. But it isn’t easy! Otherwise my natural content I gravitate towards is pics of my food, restaurants I go to (when that was a thing), or that I reminisce over…. And my coffee shots, although it doesn’t happen as much when I am just stuck at home.  

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