With Love Island season underway, this year’s contestants have jetted off to Majorca in a bid to enjoy a summer like no other.
But as part of the glamorous and drama-filled antics, there are strict rules that contestants must follow.
Perhaps most notably, the contestants aren’t allowed to have contact with the outside world.
And while they may have no social media access, their social media accounts are far from inactive as loved ones back home take over their digital presence.
Here, Ryan Lloyd, 25, talks to OK! about his experience taking over last year’s winner Millie Court’s Instagram account…
“I’ve known Millie since we started secondary school when we were 11. We weren’t super close at first, but our friendship really grew when we went to college and bonded over our love for fashion.
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We spent lockdown living together and it’s where she joked about applying to go on Love Island. Then one night at 1am, I found myself helping her with her application.
In May 2021, Millie found out that she was going to be entering the villa and we figured that I’d be in charge of her Instagram account – we loved taking pictures and doing fashion shoots together, so it was an easy decision to make.
The only issue was that Millie was a bombshell and I was never sure of when I’d need to spring into action, so I was constantly on the edge.
A week after the series launched, I got a WhatsApp from a producer who told me that Millie would be entering the next day and I had 24 hours to get ready.
But in all of the excitement, I forgot that Love Island often shows the new arrivals in the teaser clips the day before. As a result, I screamed when Millie walked onto my screen.
My phone froze for an hour after because I’d gotten so many calls and messages. From then on the notifications didn’t stop and I let Instagram take over my life.
Prior to the show I’d had some social media training from Love Island about basic things like sourcing images and keeping up with the show. But I was determined to take things seriously, so I did a lot of research into digital marketing myself.
As soon as I regained access to my phone, the first thing I did was change Millie’s Instagram password to something complicated to stop any hacking attempts. It was so long that I couldn’t even tell you what it was.
At the time, I had a full-time job in fashion and I had to fit everything around my schedule. During my lunch break I’d start planning that day’s content and would reply to any messages the account had received.
After work, I’d pick up where I’d left off and make sure that some form of discussion was happening on Millie’s Instagram an hour before the show. I’d post on the main grid directly after the program and then spend the next hour or two replying to people.
Every day, Instagram would show that there were 99+ messages in the inbox, so there must’ve been 100s if not 1000s of DMs. Despite the huge figure, I was determined to reply to as many messages as possible and engage with supporters.
For eight weeks straight I was always sneakily on my phone at work replying to fans, getting offers from brands and negotiating with potential management teams.
Sometimes I’d get messages from other contestants’ accounts about where I was getting my images from, but other than that we were so busy with our own things that we didn’t have time to talk.
I was hustling as much as I could because I wanted to make sure that when Millie came out of Love Island she’d have all these amazing opportunities.
But my main focus was on showcasing the Millie that I knew and keeping her in the villa for as long as possible. I’d post five to 10 Instagram stories a day to help keep followers interacting and would often take part in Q&As, put on quizzes or make memes.
There were a lot of late nights and it was like having two full-time jobs.
Luckily, the best thing about running Millie’s account is that she came across as such a positive person that she didn’t receive that much hate.
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For every 50 supportive messages there’d be one troll, though sometimes people would visit my personal account and leave a homophobic remark.
I have thick skin, so I was able to quickly brush it off. I’d put my Instagram handle in her bio and it was something I’d almost expected to happen.
As the series went on, things got a lot more intense. There were some moments, such as Casa Amor, that weren’t always easy to watch, but it’s part of the show.
I would drop the producers a message and they’d give me the thumbs up and tell me that Millie was okay. It was reassuring to have that connection and you learn to take what you see with a pinch of salt as you’re only getting an hour of their day.
As soon as Millie came out, she had to quarantine for a week but we spent a whole day together going through our own experiences as soon as we were able to. She’d gone into the villa with 5,000 followers and came out with one million – she was super grateful and couldn’t understand it all.
While Millie might have been the one to win Love Island, her journey turned my life around too. I’d always been interested in photography and videography, but being in charge of her Instagram showed me just how much I love creating content.
12 months on and I’ve quit my job in fashion and my content creation business Archive by Ryan pays my bills and mortgage. Without Love Island, all of this would still be a hobby.
Despite the stresses along the way, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
My advice for anyone doing it this year? Don’t jump the gun, remember to spell check everything and never ever unfollow a fellow Love Islander.
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