“So you want to know how I am so successful at such a young age?” said Marta Alonso, a guest speaker for my journalism class.

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Marta (left) and me (also the left).

She sported an oversized tan suit jacket over a classic white top, dark denim jeans, and leather high heeled booties that screamed “I’m cute, but don’t fuck with me”. Before she even began the lecture she prepared on her rise to success I knew I wanted what she had; ambition, confidence, and a hot bod.

After graduating ISDI (Institute Superior para el Desarrollo de Internet) in 2008 Alonso said it was difficult to even think about finding a job because of the global economic crisis. At least she had an excuse for being bleak about her future, it’s 2016 and I can’t even think about getting an internship! But, as her successful story goes, she caught a break and began working at Thinklink in 2009. Alas, her “break” lasted about five months when the company closed; but as one door closed, another opened.

In 2010 Alonso’s boss asked her to help him create Muuby which would be one of the first digital media and social advertising companies in Spain. “I had no idea how to build a company, but I had nothing to lose. So, I put in all the savings I had towards Muuby and gave it a shot,” said Alonso.

Release a breath of relief, because the risk the young entrepreneur took paid off. Alonso created a campaign for Spain’s Doctors Without Borders called “pastillas contra el dolor ajeno” (pain relief pills).

The campaign sold tins of pill shaped candy whose proceeds would go towards actual medical pills. Muuby’s successful Doctors Without Borders campaign won them their biggest client, Spanair.

For about two and a half years Muuby’s staff was on a high. But, as life goes, the airline went bankrupt in 2012. Not only was this a serious loss for Spain, and an inconvenience for citizens with cancelled flights, but the end of Muuby and Alonso’s second career. spanair-operations-suspended

“It was the experience I had because in two years I learned how to build a company – after all, it was a good learning experience,” Alonso said.

This is the part when her story starts getting good. Alonso had always been interested in Instagram and used it quite frequently to find out the hottest fashion, travel, and food trends. She was one of the first people to join Instagram in 2010 when she created @IgersBCN (Instagramers Barcelona). Initially it started as a hobby, but within one month she had 1,000 followers.

Alonso invited all her followers to meet at a bar to get to know each other and to bond over mutual interests in photography, art, and travel. 200 people showed up, and at that moment something clicked for Alonso.

“When I saw that everyone who came was posting pictures from the meeting and talking about it, I realized the potential of Instagram as an advertising platform,” Alonso said.

This realization is what head speared her title as Instagram Guru. As @IgersBCN grew, people from all over the world slid into her DM’s asking her for Instagram strategy help to create a community like she did. Today there are over 400 Igers groups in 60 countries that congregate regularly to take photographs together while meeting new people.

Alonso’s curious spirit that created Igers landed her another gig from a different airline, Vueling. The company wanted her to create a campaign to commemorate the 50 million passengers who flew Vueling.  Alonso utilized Igers by asking users who flew Vueling to submit photographs of their travels. The photos were then pasted on an airplane to create the first art exhibit in the air.

Alonso’s ability to use Instagram as a tool for advertising attracted the Catalan Tourism Board. They wanted her to invite the ten best Instagramers around the world on an all expense paid visit to Barcelona to promote tourism in Catalunya. One of the perks of being a journalist, Alonso said, is that they’re invited by companies to do shit for free all the time because then they’ll write about it.

After freelancing for a while and absolutely #winning at the game, Alonso landed a job as Head of Digital for Edelman-Spain.

Marta Alonso @ Edelman-Spain
Marta Alonso @ Edelman-Spain

“Huge corporations are like turtles, they’re slow moving. It’s hard to make innovations in a fast way. I felt like a bird trapped in a small cage who couldn’t fly free,” said Alonso.

After quitting Edelman-Spain, Alonso was able to spread her wings and in 2014 she create Circle Line, a digital storytelling agency, where she continues to work today.

“Instagram is a global display that lets you sell your product globally,” Alonso said. “Many companies don’t even have stores, instead they give products to influencers who Instagram themselves wearing them”.

Although excessive social media users receive a lot of backlash for constantly taking photos and tweeting and never being in the moment, Marta Alonso managed to make a high paying career out of it, as have many other Instagramers.

In March, 2015 Alonso released her first, “and I think last” book, called “We Instagram”.

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