This article was originally published in 2019.
Social media has played a huge part in the phenomenal success of Love Island, becoming an extension of the show itself where fans can debate the latest villa action or share many hilarious memes that soon go viral.
But while the Islanders may be shut off from the online world during their time in the villa, their accounts are far from dormant, as they accumulate hundreds of thousands of followers over the course of the series.
Nowadays, these social media platforms are the crucial part of remaining famous after the show. Their DMs are where many opportunities will present themselves and Instagram is where those all-important #spon posts will go once their time on the ITV reality series is up – but have you ever spared a thought for the people running their accounts while they’re sunning themselves in Spain?
Over the last seven weeks, she’s amassed a whopping 1.3 million Instagram followers, with an added 67,000 over on Twitter – and to say looking after this has taken over Martin’s life would be something of an understatement.
“I sat down with her about three or four weeks before she went in and asked her what kind of direction she wanted to go in, she literally just said ‘memes’,” Martin tells HuffPost UK. “She was scrolling through her phone the whole time, so blasé, but I don’t think she realised how much of an impact this was going to have on both our lives.”
Far from just posting the occasional meme and live-tweeting the show, Martin has almost become his best friend’s agent, having been “bombarded” with messages from brands, companies and TV producers who want to work with Amber when she comes out of the villa.
“She must get over 1,000 emails a day, and about 2,500 messages on Instagram – lots of which say ‘if you promote this brand, we’ll give you two grand for a couple of posts’,” Martin says. “Literally, I’m petrified I’ll miss something, so I go through every single message.”
At the moment, Martin, who met Amber four years ago at a gym run by former Love Island star Adam Collard, is working round the clock to fit managing her social accounts around his job with the NHS.
He says: “At the minute, I get up about 4/5am, doing emails for the first two hours, then I go to work. On my dinner break and morning and afternoon break I’m doing emails, and then as I’m walking home from work, I’m doing Instagram messages, and then for about another three hours when I get in. Then it’s time for Love Island, and when it’s on, I’m barely even watching it, as I’m too busy scheduling the next days posts and tweets. It’s literally a full time job.
“By the time I get to bed, it’s about 1am, so I’ve literally aged about 80 years after the last few weeks,” he laughs.
But Martin’s duties extend even further beyond replying to the messages Amber has received, as he’s put in place a number of arrangements to help her transition into her new celebrity lifestyle with relative ease after leaving the villa.
“I almost feel like a proper businessman, it’s weird,” says Martin, who claims Amber put him in charge of her accounts as he is her “most organised friend”.
“I’ve set up her own limited company, her own business banking account and I’ve spoken with Islanders from last year to get tips on what they did in terms of VAT and tax. I’ve been dealing with solicitors to put contracts in place, so that when she comes out, she’s got this work and can choose what she wants.
“But then I’m also having meetings with TV production companies, radio, people pitching ideas for new TV shows – she must be being pitched or in talks for five different TV shows, and this show hasn’t even ended yet.”
ITV bosses previously announced they would be offering improved aftercare support for the Islanders to cope with things including financial management and social media, following the suicides of former contestants Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon. (Love Island’s duty of care protocols were also updated for the 2021 series.)
Martin, 31, reveals he’s also been offered support by the Love Island team, saying: “Amber passed on a couple of phone numbers – one for the welfare team, who said that I could call them day or night, and then one for the press team, just to make sure we didn’t put up anything untoward and make sure no negative items leaked into the press.
“We have support there, but I’ve never had to use it to be honest.”
However, he admits he would have found it useful to have more guidance from producers prior to taking over the accounts.
“There’s been no formal training as such, and it would have been handy if they’d put a package together of what to expect while she’s in there,” he says. “She’s getting all these deals and I’m like, ‘am I doing the right thing here?’”
You might also think bosses would offer those running the Islanders social accounts a preview of what’s coming up on the show in order for them to prepare content, but Martin reveals this is not the case.
He says: “We don’t hear a thing. What we’ve heard from other Islanders’ families too is that the first they know that they’ve been dumped is when everyone else finds out on the TV. They put them into hiding so that when they’re dumped, it doesn’t break out into the press.”
While Martin says he loves interacting with Amber’s new-found fans online – admitting he has even become friends with some of her most loyal supporters, speaking to them daily – he confirms it hasn’t been without it challenges.
Amber has largely escaped being the target of trolling, but Martin says reading some early negative comments about his friend massively affected him.
“In the first week, Amber got a few really negative comments online, but I think she was just so nervous and shy that she was using sarcasm but it was coming across as bitchy and we had to deal with all of that,” he says.
“I was really drained because it was a shock to the system, dealing with that many emails and messages anyway, but then for the majority of them to come through and be negative was really, really horrible.
“At one point, I was thinking she’s going to come out of here and feel exactly the same as I am, so I was quite emotionally invested at first and trying to respond. I wasn’t being nasty, but I’d say, ‘thank you for your horrible message, however, do you realise this can affect someone’s mental health?’. The majority would backtrack straight away and apologise, but I didn’t want her to have to deal with that.
“But after the first week, it seemed to stop and everyone has just fallen in love with her.”
Having only had 4,000 followers on Instagram prior to entering the villa, he claims Amber will be shocked to see her count now standing at over one million.
He says: “When we spoke about it before and I told her she might get a million followers, she was like, ‘nah, doubt it’. She was thinking she was going to be out in week two or three, so would get half a million tops, but it’s crazy how popular she’s proven to be.
“I think she’ll get such a shock when she comes out and will be really surprised and emotional, but then she’ll be lapping it up. She’ll love every minute of it.”
Martin adds “headstrong” Amber is “more than prepared to cope with” any negativity she may come across online, thanks in part to her belief in Reiki healing.
Having had a massive insight into the world Amber is about to enter, is there any part of Martin that fancies a slice of fame for himself?
The answer is a firm no.
“I’d love it for the holiday, but it’s not for me,” he laughs. “I was on This Morning with Amber’s mum last week, and it was such an experience. We were treated like royalty while we were there and I love that side of it, but when I came home I was so deflated that I had to go back to work, so I don’t think I could cope with having that much excitement for eight weeks and then having to come home and having to go back to a normal job.”
But with a queue of deals lined up for her thanks to Martin’s relentless hard work on social media, Amber probably isn’t heading back to the day job any time soon.