PR & Corp Comm 40 Under 40: Influencers - the new medium of communication

In a panel discussion on influencers, industry experts discuss the value influencers can bring for brands in a digital era

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 20, 2019 9:39 AM
IPRCCC Influencer Panel

At the IPRCC event held in Delhi, an engrossing session moderated by Ruhail Amin, Senior Editor, BW Businessworld & Executive Editor BW Applause, looked at dissecting whether or not the influencer market in India was now mainstream.

The session titled- “Influencers:  The new medium of communication” saw industry experts like Amit Nanchahal, Senior Manager Pepsico, Chirag Cherian, Director, Perfect Relations, Ruchika Mehta, Corporate Director Communication, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd, and Akash Batra, Principal Consultant, Archetype, discuss the effectiveness and challenges of influencer marketing in India.

Putting the first question to Akash Batra, the moderator asked him, “Is influencer market mainstream or is it too early to say?"

To which Batra replied, “In the US it has already peaked and is on its way down, in India, it’s early days. Just taking a step back, influencers have always been a part of marketing. I think all we do is influence people day in and day out. What brands are doing now is reaching out to a captive audience. In India, yes, it is making strides but I would be very wary of how soon we sort of explode with this.”

Posing the next question to Ruchika Mehta, Amin pointed out that The Park has been using Influencers to reach out to customers and what, therefore, had their experience been like? Mehta said, “Hotels have been using influencers for a very long time, even when there wasn’t anything called influencer marketing per se. At that point, we called them brand ambassadors, who had a certain kind of impact on a certain kind of audience, and we used them more for offline subjects than online. The only difference is that it has all become online, everything is digitally amplified so it has become important to look at people who are still considered influencers and brand ambassadors in that space. We continue to use influencers for various projects”

She, however, added a word of caution, “we have to be careful because everybody and anybody is calling themselves influencers, so the very important challenge for all of us as communicators is to actually find out who are the right influencers”.

She further explained how influencer marketing could be an effective tool for marketers if it was used wisely by choosing the right influencers.

When asked to share his views on the influencer marketing, Cherian said, “I have a habit of deep diving into who I’m dealing with and what I’ve realised is that there are tools today which enable you to understand which influencer is the right fit for you, it’s not based on the likes or followers, it is entirely based on the audience base and how they respond to their posts”

He also explained how most of the influencers today are a polymath and able to create value for only two or three business verticals, therefore even if an influencer has the numbers, he may not be the perfect fit for a brand, and therefore propriety tools come into play in such situations.  He added that TikTok was a platform to watch out for marketers, he said, “Influencer management is changing due to new platforms such as TikTok, which entirely depend on 15-second videos. We have to watch out for Tik Tok influencers, they cater to Tier2 and Tier 3 markets, they communicate the message in 15 seconds.”

Talking about TikTok, Pepsico is one company that has engaged effectively with the platforms’ influencers,  Amin therefore aptly put out the next question to Amit Nanchahal, asking him about the company’s experience and the ROI that influencer marketing can bring. Nanchahal replied, “The important thing to understand is how companies and marketers are investing more and more on digital. Ten years back, spends on digital were hardly 5-10 per cent, now it’s almost 30-40 per cent, a lot of brands are investing money, as a result, influencer marketing is coming up. In India, if you compare the numbers we are the second-fastest-growing market, whether it is Instagram, TikTok, Facebook. I think a lot of marketers are looking at influencer marketing. On behalf of Pepsico, I can say we have done some amazing campaigns in the last one year, where influencers played a very key role but as a brand what we are looking at is how we can engage with them in the long term.”

To give an idea of the scope and effectiveness of influencer marketing, Nanchahal shared that on the recently launched Pepsi anthem, the campaign already had 23 billion views on TikTok, “Influencers are ensuring that the message of the brand reaches the masses.” He said.

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