Ever find someone cool on Instagram and 'go down the rabbit hole'? Meet Las Vegas based writer and content creator, Jen
Off The Strip Staff: Hi Jen! Will you be our Insta BFF?
@Vegasstarfish: Of course! I’d love to. 🥰
OTS Staff: By day, you are …
Vegas Starfish a.k.a. Jennifer Gay: Drinking copious amounts of espresso?
OTS Staff: Haha! Caffeine is a must ☕️
OTS Staff: By night, you are …
JG: A Vegas-based sea creature trying to revolutionize the connection between incoming tourists and experiences through dynamic marketing. 😎
OTS Staff: How has social media advanced your dynamic marketing strategies to help you connect with tourists?
JG: Consumers are wise to ads and ad placement. It’s exhausting because literally everything is an advertisement. I focus, instead, on finding the truly great things in our city and presenting them to incoming visitors in a truly authentic and organic way. On the very rare occasion I accept a paid promotion, I make sure it’s a place I would truly recommend otherwise and then also make sure the viewer is aware it’s a promotional piece.
JG: Because of this, I have built the best following a platform can have because they know they’re receiving honest reviews and recommendations and I am held to the high standard of not disappointing them. Luckily, we live in a city that’s full of absolutely amazing things to eat, see and experience!
OTS Staff: Authenticity is so important! We appreciate that you keep it real.
OTS Staff: Speaking of social media, how long have you been on Instagram?
JG: Not very long! I have a journalism background based in print media but as people began shifting to their content consumption to digital platforms, I was sort of lost in the current for a minute. I made a few TikTok videos about Vegas culture in April of 2021 and went viral quickly.
JG: Sometime in the fall a follower said, “You should get on IG!” So I did but I didn’t really get into it. My preferred medium is with short videos rather than still pictures. As Instagram evolved into the reels concept, I started posting content here in January of 2022 and was able to quickly find a new audience here. Now IG is like a comfortable pair of jeans. I can’t imagine not having it.
OTS Staff: I love the comfy pair of jeans metaphor for Instagram. It’s spot on. Which video did you create that went viral? And why do you think it almost broke the internet?
JG: My first viral video was a clap back to a woman who claimed that if you tipped $20 at hotel check-in they would instantly upgrade you to a Presidential Suite, which simply isn’t true. In my gap between print media and digital creation, I worked in gaming with MGM and Wynn, so I have a working knowledge of our primary industry in Vegas. Upgrades hinge on availability, length of stay, player status and even the whim of the front desk agent.
JG: But you aren’t getting a Presidential Suite on a $20 tip in modern Vegas. It did really well and though that video has long since disappeared into the void, I have continue[d] to produce daily videos ever since with an average of 30 million organic views per month.
“I think we have the coolest creator based community here in Vegas with some truly brilliant minds and perspectives and I’m lucky to be able to collaborate with them all frequently. There is so much more value in small creators with big voices than mega creators who do generalized lifestyle content.”Jennifer Gay, Vegas Starfish
OTS Staff: Wow! That’s incredible. What is the most challenging part of creating daily videos for your social media platforms?
JG: Consistent quality. I don’t create filler content. Every video I make is fully visual with a detailed voice over. I spend about 8 hours a day making content for my channel and the one local business I create content for. Seven days a week. But I love it.
OTS Staff: What advice do you have for journalists and aspiring content creators who want to grow an engaging social media audience?
JG: Take time finding your voice and don’t be afraid to mix things up until you find a method that feels comfortable for you. The right audience will naturally find their way to you. You are someone’s perfect cup of tea. And be so excited about what you’re doing that you’re willing to do it for free because it’s a passion project a long time before it’s a paycheck. Art or creator based endeavors will always pay more in soul satisfaction than actual dollars.
OTS Staff: We appreciate your advice 💜 Creativity and a unique voice truly do make a difference in content creation.
OTS Staff: Since joining Instagram, what is one thing you would change or add to the platform to improve it?
JG: I really like IG but would love to see more of an actual algorithm to connect new followers with great content creation. I feel like the era of IG models and celebs are fighting the transition, but in order to be competitive, social media platforms need to be living, breathing, evolving things.
OTS Staff: Yes! Social media is constantly evolving. With a journalism background, what are your thoughts on the emergence of social media influencers? It seems like sometimes the line blurs between the two, since many influencers are also actively involved in media events.
JG: I think it’s great! Any vehicle that delivers information to those looking to consume information has value. I feel like it’s all journalism in a way. Just like the New York Times and Buzzfeed are both valid but entirely different vehicles of information, a beautiful woman taking selfies drinking champagne by a gorgeous Vegas pool doesn’t have to be the same as my point-of-view produced information pieces and they’re both so valid.
JG: We are living in the greatest time of creation. Any person with a message can find an audience and collaborate.
OTS Staff: Absolutely! It’s wonderful learning from multiple perspectives and from people all over the world.If you could do a collab with anyone, who would it be and why?
JG: I think we have the coolest creator based community here in Vegas with some truly brilliant minds and perspectives and I’m lucky to be able to collaborate with them all frequently. There is so much more value in small creators with big voices than mega creators who do generalized lifestyle content. With that being said, I would never turn down the opportunity to work with any of our Vegas performers, chefs or key players making things happen in the community. Also, Carrot Top. I want to collab with him so bad. DMs are open, Carrot Top.
JG: I’m also regularly messaging Pauly Shore and he politely continues to brush me off. I will eventually break through. 🤣
OTS Staff: Yes! We are lucky to have so many passionate local content creators in town, just like you!
OTS Staff: Carrot Top is hilarious! We are here for it. We hope he reads this and you both connect soon 😊 And Pauly Shore, too! Maybe all three of you together. That would be an amazing collab.
OTS Staff: When it comes to Las Vegas, you have produced in-depth guides, videos and informative content. What is one Vegas experience or opinion you have about the city that isn’t already living on the internet?
JG: These ideas are definitely on the internet, but not as loudly as they should be. There are two local institutions that a lot of tourists may not know about that are brilliant.
JG: The first, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, is the absolute best one night experience you can have in Vegas. Instead of having to choose one amazing restaurant to drop $300 at, they offer these awesome hosted tours of some of the best restaurants in our city and let you try the chef’s favorite dishes at each stop for less than $200 per person. It’s locally run and operated, a brilliant concept, and it’s something everyone should do if they want to experience our deep and rich culinary wealth. Vegas is such a foodie haven.
JG: The second is the “Magician’s Study,” and again, I don’t work for these people, I genuinely think it’s the best hidden gem in the city. It’s an ultra exclusive super small, fully immersive magic experience that rotates through the back rooms of some of our best hidden speakeasies. You RSVP on their site and if you’re lucky, you get a code word to buy a ticket and then you find out the day of the show where on the Strip it is. And when I tell you it’s the coolest show you’ll ever be part of, I’m under selling it. These are the two things that everyone should be doing.
JG: Also I like food and mysterious illusions, if that isn’t evident.
OTS Staff: We are taking notes! These experiences sound so unique and exciting.
OTS Staff: Tag a bestie or an account you want to [give a] shoutout!
JG: @lasvegasfill is the one influencer in Vegas that hypes us all up, spends time getting to know us all, makes everyone feel included, gets intros and invites spread around. He doesn’t care if you have 4 followers or 4 million. He’s the hype man everyone needs and the glue that holds us together as a creator community. I wish I had his patience.
OTS Staff: We love Las Vegas Fill! 💜
JG: He’s the GOAT.
OTS Staff: Thank you so much for chatting with us! 😊
JG: Thanks so much for asking me too! I’m always available for anything you need. Don’t ever hesitate to ask. If I can make you a video or attend something on your behalf, I’m your girl. We’re all on the same team.