Arii 36 shirts
photo: Instagram/Arii

Social media is more than just a place for leisure and fun. It's become one of the biggest, fastest, and most efficient marketing tools of all time. And as it's evolved, influencers are now considered one of the main vessels and sources of promotion through the many digital channels that social media provides. However, after years of social media analyzation and the rise of the dreaded algorithm, follower count doesn't always match up with engagement. 

One young influencer is finding that out the hard way after her two-year-long T-shirt line project completely flopped. To add insult to injury, Twitter caught wind and immediately chimed in, but they came with some great advice. 

Arii is an influencer with 2.6 million Instagram followers. 

We don't know much about the 18-year-old, but her "cool girl" persona and ability to almost perfectly capture her angles has made her one of the many widely followed teens on Instagram. However, she recently learned a tough lesson after finding out that her following may not be as invested as she had once thought. 

After launching a T-shirt line, Arii revealed in an Instagram post that she had not even been able to sell a measly 36. "Hi, it breaks my heart to write this post," she began. "As y'all know I released my brand. I poured my heart into this drop....Unfortunately the company that I'm working with goes based on your first drop sales. In order for them to order and make my products (even to keep working with them) I have to sell at least 36 pieces." 

Her goal wasn't met, and despite thousands of followers saying they would support, she was unable to make the sales quota, and even those that did purchase were alerted that the shirts would not be produced. 

The transparent post resulted in Twitter turning into a lesson in marketing and branding. 

"The influencer bubble is bursting. This young lady has well over 2 million followers and couldn’t sell 36 shirts. Focus on genuine engagement and not followers cuz they ain’t gonna buy a thing," a woman suggested to the young influencer. 

Many felt that the shirts themselves had no real draw.

When minimalistic shirts with small writing are a dime a dozen, many think Arii should have created a more enticing design. 

"In a prior post she said she worked on her “fashion line” for two years to make sure everything was perfect... all of the merch is just bland with those three letters on it. Eye..." someone said.

Those that follow Arii said she didn't advertise at all. 

"Girl... You literally never promoted it. I looked on her and on your shop on Instagram. Where are the pics of you in your merch? And why is the design so generic? I know people didn't support, but if you don't even go hard for your own merch, why should they?" someone asked, making a valid and strong argument. 

People analyzed many of her prior posts. 

"Part of the problem IMO: the captions don't tell me anything. It's just a bunch of generic phrases you might find on a bumper sticker, and then zero hashtags. The tags are one of the simplest forms of marketing on IG," someone noted of Arii's often un-engaging captions. 

But what tripped everyone up the most was the basic math. 

"I’m really tripping that homegirl has 2.5 MILLION followers and couldn’t sell 36 shirts lmaooooo. Even if only 1% of her followers bought, that’s 25 THOUSAND units she should’ve been able to move. She couldn’t do 36?! THREE SIX?!?!" someone said, nothing that 36 is is not even a fraction of her following. 

Gems were dropped.

"The truth is that her followers aren't her customers. Understanding who will actually buy from you and what they will buy is a key business lesson," someone said. 

It looks like "passive followers" got the best of her. 

"Most followers are passive and account for an audience of spectators rather than a targeted audience of buyers. You said it right, the focus should be on genuine conversations with engaged people that you choose to understand. Forget about the optics," noted another person lending the influencer some advice.

There's a reason people now study social media for a living. 

"Lady with 2 mil followers who couldn’t even sell 36 shirts is emblematic of a noisy marketing/sales line . Look up an article called 1000 true fans to find out the power of actually catering to a core audience . You don’t need followers , you need buyers/fans/customers who spend," another well-versed commenter mentioned. 

In the end, none of us are celebrating Arii's short-comings. 

"It was a pitty party and guests weren't RSVP'ing. She looks like a kid from that pic hey she's learning, it will be nice to see her grow from this, business wise and emotionally. And win," said someone in hopes that Arii's next ventures will be more successful. 

At only 18, she has so much life ahead of her and so many more opportunities to make it right. We're rooting for her.