Instagram is trying to spur interaction between creators and brands: Sandeep Bhushan

Bhushan, Head of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook India, talks about brands, special tools for marketers, importance of India market and more

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Dec 10, 2020 3:13 PM
sandeep bhushan

India is clearly emerging as one of the key markets for Instagram. They are introducing key tools on the platform for the marketers here, which are being lapped up by both big and small brands in the country. From a Mondelez to a Myntra to Wingreens Farms, everyone is taking to Instagram to increase their reach and visibility. From a Mondelez to a Myntra to Wingreens Farms everyone is taking to Instagram to increase their reach and visibility.

Sandeep Bhushan, Head of GMS (Global Marketing Solutions) at Facebook India talks to E4M about brands, special tools for marketers, importance of India market and more.

Excerpts

Instagram made a lot of key announcements in India in the last fortnight? Tell us a little about the key features being introduced for the Indian market? Are any of these moves India specific?

Right now, we’re witnessing enormous shifts in how people create and enjoy culture. Culture, as we see it, is the collection of stories we tell, and we believe everyone has something worth saying. But it’s often young people and creators who spark those conversations. They set the trends; they signal what’s next. The recent announcements have been made with this context. 

In the past few months, we’ve made some major changes, be it the launch of Reels, the Reels tab, Guides and updates to messaging. Now, we’ve announced new IGTV shows with creators, the branded content tag for Reels and Live Rooms, which is the ability for people to go live with up to three additional guests. With the IGTV shows, we’re aiming to inspire the creator ecosystem and highlight that once there’s a strong idea, tied closely with the creator’s passion pursuit, and episodic nature of content, it will meet with success. With the branded content tag for Reels, we’re trying to increase transparency and with Live Rooms, we’re aiming to help creators better engage with and grow their audiences by going live with multiple guests. Live Rooms was first tested in India and now India is one of the two countries where it has been launched. 

 

IGTV is launching shows with established creators and celebrities in India- Has IGTV taken a hit with the launch of REELS in India? How do you differentiate both products? What are the brands’ preferences?

Reels is a new addition to how you can share and watch video on Instagram. Designed for short-form, entertaining videos, Reels has the power of the broad Instagram audience, and unique creative tools. But collectively with Reels, IGTV, Stories and Live, we’re giving people more ways to share video the way they want - whether that’s short, long, casual, edited, temporary, or permanent. 

While we’re seeing great traction for Reels, we see sustained momentum on IGTV too. IGTV has been around for over 2 years now and the promise remains, that it enables you to connect with people more meaningfully through longer videos. This year we’ve seen creators like Saransh Goila and Atul Khatri publish ‘74 shades of India’ and ‘Only Positive News’ episodic content on IGTV. And now, we’ve partnered with a diverse group of creators for a set of IGTV shows that best highlight the possibilities with the feature. The shows feature Shirley Setia, Kusha Kapila, Arjun Kanungo, Beyounick aka Nikunj Lotia and Lisa Mishra. 

For brands, the value proposition offered by Reels and IGTV remains the same. Depending on their objectives and message they have to deliver, they use either or both of the features. Myntra for instance, publishes content in collaboration with numerous creators. The long format one, say from their Myntra Fashion Superstar which is a digital reality show, went up on IGTV, and short format ‘How To’ pieces of content get published as reels. 

 

There is a lot happening around branded content---what are the kind of brands that are taking to Instagram to communicate- Can you help us with some examples of brands that may have done an ‘instagram first’ campaign?

In the context of 2020, there’s been a fundamental change in digital consumption, which we’ve witnessed by the engagement we’ve seen on the Facebook family of apps. For instance in March itself, we saw a 60% rise in Instagram Live views, on a week-on-week basis. As a result, businesses need to communicate with customers in creative ways using digital platforms, while driving efficiency with every dollar. As consumers seek surrogate experiences, while they can’t touch and feel a product, they could be offered a more immersive ad unit. Similarly they can’t ask questions at a physical store, but they can to an influencer. As per a BCG-Facebook 'Turn The Tide' report, digital influence has increased significantly in urban consumers - up to 70% for mobiles, 55%-60% for apparel, and up to 20-25% for the non-food CPG categories. 

Branded content is a great way for brands to showcase their utility in an agile and relatable way and many are on this  journey. We’re trying to spur the interaction between creators and brands, in a way that redefines the ecosystem, and allows stories to be told with greater business impact. For example, Hyundai Aura launched with influencers on Instagram and saw a 5 point lift in awareness. Similarly, a 2.3 point increase in purchase intent for Cadbury Cocoa when they used influencers on Instagram. There are also brands that in a way are born on Instagram .i.e. who’re prominently using Instagram to build their business, like Wingreen Farms and Bunaai. So, whether it’s a big or small business, influencer marketing on  Instagram is driving business impact, and that’s why it’s set to grow. 

Help us understand Instagram’s monetization strategy for the Indian market? 

Instagram is the home for passions, for genres that are mainstream like food and travel, and to those that are niche, like doodling and sustainable fashion. It is for this reason that Instagram has always given a voice to a new set of creators and Instagram-first businesses, who’ve embraced the platform in creative ways. This is also why 90% of people on Instagram follow a business and why so many creators and businesses are at the forefront of pushing culture and creativity forward on the platform.

Branded content is thus a huge opportunity for brands who can engage with the creator community, in a way that fulfils their business objectives. Branded content ads help here, as it gives advertisers the ability to promote creators' organic branded content posts as feed and stories ads, thereby reaching new audiences and measuring impact.

 

How important is India as a market for Instagram?

We’re excited about India because of its young demographic, vibrant culture and its roots in open expression. It’s a place where public figures show up most authentically. The community has used the platform to connect back with traditions, be it yoga or vintage jewelry and start new ones like “freak shakes” and IPL. This pursuit of passions on the platform has also acted as a springboard for successes for large and small businesses, from Mondelez to Wingreens Farms. 

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