'We wanted to create something that could belong to Netflix'

Natasha Saraogi, Director – NDMPL, opens up about the idea of curating an insta-web series and the abundance of engagement opportunities it provides

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Apr 20, 2021 9:36 AM

Pushing the envelope for innovation, a new age marketing agency NDMPL has been crafting clutter-breaking campaigns for brands. One of the agency’s standouts has been curating an Instagram web-series campaign for its clients. They recently did a Women's Day activity for Central called #WomenWearItBetter, which received whopping traction with over 10,655,211 impressions and an engagement of over 328,407.

Earlier they had conducted 'Pujo Fashion Love Stories' for fbb, which turned out to be an Instagram sensation. Natasha Saraogi, Director – NDMPL in conversations with exchange4media opens up about riding this trend, what is fuelling the growth of bite-sized web series on Instagram despite competition from OTT platforms and more.

Edited excerpts below:

How did this idea of conducting an Insta-web series click? And as pioneers in starting this trend, what next have you planned to expand this?

The idea behind starting this was to get people hooked on to our series while taking advantage of Instagram’s storytelling tools like stills, image stacks, graphics, one-minute videos and especially the in-built Instagram features that would highly engage our audience, create intrigue and let them decide the fate of the upcoming episodes. 

I wanted to create content that standouts to the likes of any leading OTT players, and looks like it belongs to them. Many think that the Instagram series means casually throwing something together with your iPhone, but that is not the case. Yes, the crew was tight, but they didn’t cut corners in terms of preps or production. We focused on the show’s conceptualization and ensured its thorough and the craftsmanship is top-notch. 

There already was enough content on OTT platforms, we wanted to create something that could belong to Netflix, would definitely stand out and be welcomed by our Instagram users & with Instagram being the biggest social media hub and everyone's go-to, there could be nothing better than using Instagram to its full capability and to our advantage.

I think seeing, noticing and adapting instantly to any change is very important. In this long race of a digitised world, it really is very important to sprint and surpass the sweat of mediocrity. Trends are literally fads; today there is something, and tomorrow it might shift to something else that will soon become the new trend. Hence, staying consistent, finding the right loop and constantly adapting is key, in my understanding.

What were the challenges with working around creating engagement in a short screen time? 

According to me, short screen time meant that every second that we showed had to push the story forward, create engagement not only for our users but also for the brand in turn.  As a result, nearly every episode was storyboarded with a companion tonal breakdown.” I approached creating a series for Instagram as I would do with any other project—making sure that the quality of the work was to a high standard, which would ensure a premium experience.

The difference here is that I only had a very small amount of time to tell the story and I realised that it is important to keep every episode very short, crisp, and off the edge, so constructing the storytelling in a way that was engaging, sensible and interesting was the main task. I approached the storytelling in the way I would if I were writing a longer-form series—the character arcs developing and shifting as the episodes continue. But as the time frame is so restricted, a certain amount of viewer perception is assumed. The storylines chosen in the episodes are the most important 'moments in time' for these characters in getting their wants and needs across & to make it relatable with our audience. 

How is that small and quick content is growing in demand even though OTT platforms have web series?

The number of web series produced and uploaded online is huge, and I wanted there to be a point of difference for my show. An Instagram series was not something that had ever really been attempted, especially from and for a millennial perspective. I also wanted my work to be accessible and discoverable. The neat thing about having the show on Instagram is that people can tag their friends, revisit the page, engage with the characters, relate to each one of them, share the episode and rewatch it anywhere. It's a small, fun series that can easily be viewed in its entirety within 30 minutes. Also: the challenge! One of the greatest advantages was we could add our own music suiting a certain episode with its characteristic mood.

 There are a few episodes that feature no dialogue at all—and these offer a more insightful look into their headspace.

Instagram story has been another trending format while several other trends have also picked up. Is it still a popular choice for brands as a plethora of other trends gain momentum?

The very first Instagram trend has to do with Instagram Stories. Even though it was launched just four years ago, it didn’t take long for it to cement itself as one of the top Instagram trends, also the biggest reason for Instagram web series emerging and winning the hearts of Instagrammers all over the world.

Today, it’s considered to be not just one of the platform’s most popular features but also among parent companies, Facebook's best products. Stories has become a particularly key aspect of influencer marketing. With web series taking over, nearly 8 out of 10 (78 percent) brands say that Instagram Stories has had a massive impact on their brand and it's just the beginning. Going forward, all signs point to increasing use of Stories and it being one of the hottest trends in 2021, where the future of the Instagram web series lies!

Does leveraging the web-series trend work for any specific sector only?

No, I think that's the advantage of running an Instagram web series -- that it is not restricted to any particular sector. Today anyone could build a web series to its full potential, may it be beauty, fashion, technology, food or beverages. Instagram story and its features do not limit or hold you back from creating a web series. In fact, I think it's a space, providing an abundance of opportunities to any sector that wants to explore and feed its users.

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