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The Pied Pipers of Social Media

For these Bay Area Internet savants, the social web isn't just a repository for cat videos—it’s a semi-professional pursuit, a means to (minor) offline fame, and, yes, a way of life.

Ian Padgham

(1 of 5)

Maia Mcdonald

(2 of 5)

Jon Hendren

(3 of 5)

Lorrie Ma

(4 of 5)

Lisa Congdon

(5 of 5)

Ian Padgham: Vine Virtuoso
@origiful: 310,400 followers; San Francisco
Online Self-Description: “Movie-maker & Artist :-)”
Real-Life Self-Description: Worked at SFMOMA and Twitter before leaving to make Vines full-time. “Vine is an extension of my creativity. I’m usually the guy who wants to do some kind of drawing game at a party with friends.”
Sample Post: Epically complex stop-motion Vine referencing motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge.
Claim to Fame: Brands like Sharper Image have hired Padgham to produce Vines.
The Rules: “My goal every morning is to make a Vine, no matter how bad it is. I make a cup of coffee and a Vine.”

Maia Mcdonald: Pinterest Perfectionist
@designconundrum: 1,847,326 followers; Oakland
Online Self-Description: “Graphic designer and all-around visual nerd.”
Real-Life Self-Description: “Pinterest is a little bit of a fantasy. I think my home looks nice, but there’s a difference.”
Sample Posts: Pinboards like “Boyfriend style” and “I wish my hair looked like this.”
Claim to Fame: “I’ve been able to quit my corporate job and go freelance partly based on referrals from Pinterest. It’s a great medium to gain clients.”
The Rules: “For the most part, I’m not pinning work I’ve done, just inspiration images. But I think [potential clients] are looking for a particular aesthetic, and Pinterest can show them."

Jon Hendren: Twitter Prankster
@fart: 69,237 followers; San Jose 
Online Self-Description: “Cyber Bad-Boy,” “quote unquote writer."
Real-Life Self-Description: “I just do whatever entertains my stupid brain. It’s weird that people follow along with it.”
Sample Post: “Wait, these are pistachios? I've been calling them wood clams!” Claim to Fame: He once Twitter-bullied the lead singer of smash mouth into eating two dozen eggs in one sitting.
The Rules: “I look for a joke that is brilliant and unspoiled. I started using twitter as kind of a notepad for half-jokes and dumb stuff I’d think of throughout the day. I had a little black book that I carried around, but instead of phone numbers, I had things like ’ass viper’ written in it.”

Lorrie Ma: Yelp user Par Excellence
Lorrie “bCaHnIaCnKa“ M.: 2,312 reviews; San Jose
Online Self-Description: “I eat out way too much for my, yours, and the world’s own good.“
Real-Life Self-Description: “I have a lot to say about everything all the time. But I'm not, like, a difficult person in a restaurant.“
Sample Posts: “Do not eat here.“ “They sell cronuts...but frankly their cronuts are really no good.“
Claim to Fame: Ma’s Yelp elite status grants her access to ritzy hotel openings and behind-the-scenes food events.
The Rules: “Give the place the benefit of the doubt, and don’t go in thinking, ’I'm going to get a five-star experience.’“

Lisa Congdon: Instagram Empress
@lisacongdon: 11,998 followers; Oakland
Online Self-Description: ”Artist, illustrator, world traveler, and collector.”
Real-Life Self-Description: “I’m a bit of a visual junkie,” but things “aren’t as neat” in the real world.
Sample Posts: Congdon with dogs and cats, Congdon’s art.
Claim to Fame: Her wedding hashtag took off among non-guests, and her dog gets recognized in public.
The Rules: ”I don’t really take pictures of my bed unless it’s made and pretty. It’s not because I want my life to seem perfect—I just think people want to see pictures that are well designed.”

 

Originally published in the December issue of San Francisco.

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