Influencers are considered to be the ‘face next door’ by brands: Nagesh Banga, BIGO LIVE

Nagesh Banga, Deputy Country Manager, BIGO LIVE, talks about plans to make the app as localized as possible to cater to the growing demand for social media platforms in India today

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: May 4, 2020 9:17 AM
Nagesh Banga BIGO LIVE

Social media apps are seeing unprecedented traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown and like others, BIGO LIVE is also trying to keep the users engaged.

Nagesh Banga, Deputy Country Manager, BIGO LIVE, talks to exchange4media on their plans to make the app as localized as possible to cater to the growing demand for social media platforms in India today. Banga talks to us about the influencer base on their platform, monetization, brand partnerships and much more.

At a time when most Chinese social apps are doing their best to tap into the audience on the Internet in India what are your plans for the market? Are you coming up with any India specific products?

Thanks for bringing out this question, as it gives us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from Chinese Apps. Bigo Live is a Singapore based leading live streaming App, a product of BIGO Technology - a Singapore based technology giant, where it was founded in 2014. BIGO Technology (BIGO) has a global presence with over 400 million monthly active users in more than 150 countries. BIGO group includes Bigo Live (live streaming Application), Likee (short-form video App) and IMO (instant communication app). I believe the localization of its product is one of the key strengths of BIGO Technology. Wherever we are present we always respect the local law of the land as well as sentiments of the local people. One can also see lots of tailor-made changes in both Bigo Live as well as Likee.

If we specifically talk about the Indian market, on Bigo Live the whole content is language-specific where one can see lots of content creators in different Indian languages, not just that the various stickers which are used as a gift to appreciate the performance. Virtual gifts keep on changing according to the various local festivities, for instance, during Diwali you will find lots of crackers and sweets, during Ganesh Chaturthi one can see modak etc.

Also specific to the Indian user base, Bigo Live started an initiative of Free education through live streaming where we hired over 200 tutors to impart knowledge and train our user base to enhance their soft skills like Basic English, Elementary Photoshop, PPT  and EXCEL training through its educational channels to name a few. On the other hand on Likee we had #Iamindian campaign where we motivated millions of Indians to hoist the National flag during Independence day and upload the same on Likee with the hashtag. Apart from this, our local operation team also conducts a lot of research with respect to what kind of content will be liked in a certain geography and accordingly we create lots of effects and contest on both the apps.

ByteDance has announced that they would be increasing their workforce by 40k employees across the world-what are your plans for expansion particularly in India?

We aim at diversifying out content categories and bring more entertainment options to our user base. Currently, we have over 14,000 talented broadcasters and over 300 talent agencies and plan to increase the number in the future, which also means we aim to increase our workforce too in the coming times. Not just that, a constant increase in the workforce of Bigo Live is also there. To give you an exact number is a little difficult, but we believe that for any growing company or business, human resource is the main strength and that’s why we are increasing in good numbers since the day we started our journey in India.

Social distancing has got users on apps like yours like never before and most platforms are recording unprecedented traffic. Tell us about the kind of traffic you are witnessing? What are the genres with maximum growth?

While it’s true that social platforms are experiencing more traffic in the current scenario. Though talking about BIGO LIVE, not just during this phase, but BIGO LIVE has been experiencing growth since the last 4 years since the time it was launched in India. This April, Bigo Live turned 4 and we have been transforming, improving people’s lives despite all adversities throughout the years. We have been getting positive reviews so far as we could see a surge in the number of content creators as well as new users on Bigo live which is a healthy sign and also during this period, we have seen good growth in numbers since people are using our app to connect and socialize virtually. Users are equally inclined towards entertainment, fitness, educational content and in return, Bigo Live App is also helping our users to add value in their skill set and keeping them occupied and mentally stress-free during this phase.

Our features like video call, Multi guest live (allows up to 9 participants) audio call, is a hit amongst masses as it allows you to get on a call with large groups. Corporate staff have been also been using Multi guest live and video calling feature to assist in their work form home. Moreover, it’s a win-win for all the content creators, since they are able to earn decent money due to their talent while sitting at home during the lockdown.

How is monetisation shaping up in India? How do you plan to monetise the stay at home traffic? What are the kind of brands you are working with?

 As online video consumption continues to gain popularity in India, the concept of monetisation will continue its momentum that will be shaped by consumer preferences and insights, including time spent by users, payment gateways and the nature of online content. We plan to continue offering diverse and varied content categories for our user base to ensure entertainment options while being at home. While our users can’t step out in the world, we will make sure we bring the entertainment world to them inside the App. We have worked with Huawei for Honor 7/8 smartphone launch, where Bigo Live was the live streaming partner. Moreover, we have worked with UC (Browser), where our Bigo Live broadcasters did a 'Qureka Live Quiz' for promotion. We have also associated with LaYuva in the past and associated with various singers like AmitTandon, Parampara-Sachet, Wadali Brothers and TV celebs who are brands themselves.

You have been running a lot of campaigns during this time, tell us about them.

BIGO LIVE keeps on conducting user engagement In-App activities and UGC (User Generated) Campaigns to not only keep abreast with time but also to acknowledge and engage our talented broadcasters and entertaining content creators throughout the year. Talking about 2020, we started with: Women’s day campaign: The campaign aimed at ‘Celebrating womanhood’ by bringing out the powerful journey of Bigo hosts who are breaking stereotypes and being an inspiration for other women at large.

It was an honour for Bigo Live, to bring out Bigo host Nikey Chawla’s encouraging struggle to the world who is a transexual and also an actress by profession. We are running the #WeAreThankful Campaign: With the entire nation coming together to fight off Corona and showing their gratitude to the heroes of India, who are selflessly serving the corona patients, BIGO LIVE on Janta curfew (22 March 2020) spread their love to corona warriors through our campaign #WeAreThankful.

Then there is Get FIT with BIGO LIVE, where We are currently running a fitness campaign In-App ‘Get Fit with BIGO LIVE’ via our fitness hosts and encouraging people towards a healthy lifestyle and to help disrupt the monotony of the quarantine life and bring a sense of commitment towards health.

A lot of platforms have given birth to a new set of influencers who are known for/by their platforms. How is the influencer ecosystem shaping up at Bigo?

Social media platforms are the ones giving birth to these influencers. We strongly believe that influencers make or break a platform. These influencers today are gradually gaining great reach and certainly have a better influence on the TG with a better click rate and are considered to be the ‘face next door’ by brands. We have seen the audience easily connecting with them, especially the regional influencers.

Here at BIGO LIVE, we are also giving an opportunity to our broadcasters/influencers to become micro-entrepreneurs apart from giving a global exposure to showcase their talent and brand tie-ups which is acting as a catalyst in giving a new dimension to our social media landscape! Now coming back to the question, with the birth of influencers, BIGO Live is also shaping up the ancillary industry which is Talent Agencies and scouts who manage these influencers/broadcasters.

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