Instagram influencer Riley Beek never dreamed she would pursue social media as a career. Enter her Instagram account @bitc.h, a meme page delivering some of the internet’s most hilarious content to a fanbase of over 5.2 million.
Beek satiates millennial appetites with memes poking fun at friends, relationships, school, and money. With consistent references to shows like SpongeBob SquarePants and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, she ties in cultural references while brining a fresh perspective to everyday life.
We sat down with the accomplished meme creator to learn about her career so far, discuss her strategies for creating sponsored content, and to uncover what it takes to build a success meme page.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself/your story, when and why did you start @bitc.h, and what did the page look like in its early stages?
Ah, I’ll try and summarize it the best I can! I was born and raised in Newport Beach, CA where I grew up sailing and aspired to one day become a veterinarian (oh how things change!). I met my boyfriend Blake my freshman year of high school and we have been together ever since. I studied psychology at the University of Mississippi before I moved back to LA to pursue modeling.
My freshman year of high school is when I discovered the magical website Tumblr, which was all the rage at the time! I loved the idea of having a creative outlet and that’s where I started my first comedy page. It was sort of a fun hobby for me! I ended up growing quite a following in a short amount of time and at a certain point decided to try my luck with Instagram.
After trying dozens of usernames that were already taken, “Bitc.h” happened to be available so I stuck with it! Haha! I then used my Tumblr platform to promote my new Instagram page, and it caught on almost immediately. In its early stages, @bitc.h was mostly comedic Tumblr posts until memes became a thing.
2. When and how did you realize you could make a living creating and curating memes?
It’s funny because if you asked me in college what I’d be doing for a job in three years, I probably would have told you something relating to my psychology degree. Never in a million years did I plan for this to turn into a career!
I think the first big realization that @bitc.h could be more than just a hobby came around the time we hit two million followers. A big company reached out to us and offered a significant amount of money to buy the page. We were blown away, and it made us realize the value of what we had created.
3. What would you do differently if you could go back in time and start the page again, knowing what you know now?
@bitc.h remained anonymous for a long time, partly because the thought never occurred to me to involve myself in the account. I didn’t really think anyone cared about who was behind the page.
It wasn’t until I started posting my own comedy videos on @bitc.h that I realized I should have been doing this a lot sooner! A few of them (my videos) ended up going viral and it helped me a lot with growing my personal account.
4. @bitc.h is a team effort — tell us a bit more about how your team works and what’s the general process for creating kick-ass memes as a team?
At the same time I created @bitc.h, my boyfriend, Blake Bell was simultaneously becoming “Vine famous” with his own comedy videos. So we kind of got into social media together, just on separate platforms.
Through Vine, he met our now head of content creation, Hau Ma. They grew Vine accounts together combining for over 10 million followers.
Once Vine started to slow down, we teamed up on Instagram. That’s when @bitc.h started rapidly growing and became a legitimate business.
5. How do you think your humor in real life compares with your humor on the internet?
It’s exactly the same! I’m the most sarcastic, goofy person I know so it works out well with running a meme page.
I have a very dry sense of humor though, and sometimes that doesn’t transfer well online. That’s when it’s helpful to have a team double checking what I post and making sure other people will find it funny too, not just me!
6. You’ve got a few other channels including your personal handle and @thebitcheats. Has @bitc.h helped you grow your personal Instagram page, and vice versa? How do all these pages co-mingle?
@bitc.h has definitely been a huge help in directing attention to my other pages. One of my all-time passions is cooking, I’m such a foodie! I’m also a health freak. So it only made sense for me to combine the two and start @thebitcheats—a food blog focusing on yummy, healthy recipes.
I’m so lucky to have a huge platform where I can express my other passions, and people have definitely taken an interest. Hau has also been able to grow a massive following on his account @littleasianman by posting his videos on @bitc.h. He’s one of the top Asian comedians on Instagram.
7. Have any strategies been particularly effective in helping @bitc.h grow in popularity? Thoughts on dealing with Facebook/Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm?
@bitc.h was one of the first meme pages to go all in on video. I remember having to post multiple times at once because the video time limit was 15 seconds! I think as people started to get tired of Vine, we were that account that fulfilled their video needs. That’s why we amassed almost two million followers in about eight months.
Because @bitc.h is such a large page, the Instagram algorithm really didn’t hurt us at all. But on my personal account, my comedy videos used to get millions of views and now it’s a struggle to get over 100,000. Pretty discouraging! The Instagram explore page used to be full of content creators ranging from 5,000 followers to over 10 million, but now you only see the same four or five influencers over and over again.
8. How do you decide which brands to partner with, and how do you find the right meme to communicate each sponsoring brand’s messaging?
We like to work with brands that are true to my lifestyle and also resonate with our followers. It’s all about giving the audience things they like and want to support.
We look through the thousands of memes we have posted and see how we could plug in a brand and how different combinations could work. Nothing feels better than having a branded post that performs as well as a normal post.
9. What’s the dynamic/relationship between other popular meme pages? Is it a close-knit group?
All meme creators know collaborating with other meme pages by tagging each other definitely helps your page grow. I’m not sure I would call it a close-knit group though because of the competitiveness for clients.
10. Lightning Round
Worst food you’ve ever tried?
Uni (sea urchin) for sure. My dad said he’d pay me $100 if I could finish one small serving of it, and I couldn’t even swallow a bite! I spit it out immediately. Too slimy. Yuck!
Favorite meme of all time?
Oh wow, that’s tough. Probably this one:
“Um.” — First cow that got milked.
Instagram Stories or Snapchat?
Instagram Stories all the way. Snapchat, stop trying to make the new update happen. It’s not going to work!
11. Anything else to add?
Blake and I are currently on a six week trip to South America while Hau is visiting home in Vietnam for Chinese New Year! The best part about being a meme creator is that you can run your business from anywhere in the world.
This interview has been edited for clarity.