A scroll through the #vanlife hashtag on Instagram is replete with images of lovingly restored VWs, enviable campsites, and golden hour yoga. These posts represent a kind of crowd-sourced lifestyle brand that promises a simpler, more aesthetically-pleasing existence, free from 9-5 jobs, mortgages and bad lighting.
With more than 2 million posts tagged on Instagram, #vanlife’s growing popularity has attracted the attention not only of journalists, but also of social media marketers. As ad-blocking technology spreads and audiences fragment, companies are employing more novel and creative work-arounds to reach consumers. One crucial strategy is influencer marketing, where social media micro-celebrities advertise directly to their followers on behalf of brands. And now some #vanlifers are getting in on the action, using their counterculture aesthetic to court ad dollars.
VICE drove up to Vermont’s Green Mountains to meet with the couple behind one up-and-coming #vanlife account to see what it takes to turn an off-the-grid life into an online brand.
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