An interview by Shelby Stewart, with Hailey Stewart, a western lifestyle influencer and Agvocate who uses her social platform to show the beauty of Alberta Canada, and the magic of the western way of life!
Shelby: Hi Hailey! Thanks for sitting down for a coffee to visit about how you have created this following in the western industry! I consider you a bit of a social media expert, seeing as you’ve made such a large impact on the industry on Instagram alone! On Instagram you have quite a large following, how did that come about?
Hailey: Yes, over the last year I've seen a pretty substantial growth in my following, at the moment my following has reached 31K. Which is small in terms of Instagram Influencers as a whole, but for the western industry being a relatively small one, in terms of how many people occupy the industry, that size of a following came as quite a surprise! It appears the world is really interested in cowboy culture!
Shelby: Wow! Can you explain that to me, how 30K plus followers on Instagram translates in the western industry?
Hailey: The western industry is relatively small but there are an incredible amount of facets that one person can get involved in. These facets are often filled by the same people, for example a rancher’s wife who helps in the raising and production of cattle, could also have a successful fashion blog or own a boutique. So there is that cross over. Those in the western industry are now being given the opportunity to wear many hats!
Shelby: I see, and what platforms would you say the western industry is most drawn to?
Hailey: By far and large, Instagram is the most popular. The western industry really bands together, creates communities, and has conversations over Instagram! Instagram has given the western industry a place to showcase the beauty, lifestyle, work ethic, and landscapes that the people who feed our country call home. It's become a place for people to connect who have similar lifestyles but also a platform for the industry to educate people who may not know what it takes to get a steak onto their bbq.
Shelby: So as the western industry grows and embraces digital media platforms what do you expect to see in the near future?
Hailey: I believe that the western industry will also see great growth in the newer platforms such as TikTok. Bull rider Ezekiel Mitchell for example, has 228 thousand followers on Tiktok! Not bad for someone in a niche sport, like bull riding! Now that we are able to connect more than ever before I think there will be a push to have more information online for the consumption of people in the western and equine industry. I think just as our education system had to make adjustments in light of Covid-19 the industry will move towards making online lessons and learning more accessible as we’re all at home!
Shelby: So how has the ability to amass this large following on Instagram benefited you?
Hailey: Well, it's been such an honor to be a western lifestyle advocate. A lot of people don’t understand our lifestyle or how important ranchers and farmers are to the nation. I’m proud to be able to showcase our love for our horses and livestock. That’s HUGE, because the western industry, in a lot of instances, such as farming, or cattle ranching, needs the entire nation's support to be able to continue on doing what we do.
Shelby: You know what they say, if you ate today, thank a farmer!
Hailey: Yeah it’s exactly that! Our industry comes under fire so often by a lot of people who really, just don't quite understand it. And so the industry has massively benefited from being able to showcase our lifestyle every single day, and spread that awareness for our industry!
Shelby: So that’s a wonderful example of how the industry has benefited as a whole, what about you, personally though? How have you benefited personally as a woman in the western industry because of technology, and specifically Instagram?
Hailey: Well I’m an education student, looking to hopefully teach in a rural community. I go to school full time, well before Covid-19 I did, and now I’m at home working on school assignments from my laptop. My Instagram following has given me the ability to create an income, from my phone, while being a student. That’s been a tremendous help, and I’m so thankful to both my supportive industry, as well as to Instagram for that opportunity!
Shelby: That is a wonderful benefit of the western industry, and technology coming together! Thanks for sharing your experience Hailey!
Hailey: You bet Shelby!