'Influencer marketing works when there is authentic connection between brand & influencer'
At the e4m e-Content Jam, experts exchanged views on the winning mantra for building brands via influencers
“We learned in our experience that when people see other people doing something, then they feel more comfortable and become inclined to try it”, said Vidit Taneja of Bruised Passports, while talking about why influencer marketing works. Taneja was part of 'e-Content Jam' organized by exchange4media on the topic ‘Building Brand via Influencers: Decoding the Magic Formula'.
The e-discussion was conducted in two parts with Pranay Swarup, Founder & CEO, www.chtrbox.com as chair throughout the evening. The first panel included Vidit Taneja (Vid), and Savi Munjal of Bruised Passports, the digital entrepreneur duo; Mini Mathur, Actor & TV Host; Kubbra Sait, Actor; and Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager – India & Gulf, Tourism Australia.
The second set of the panel comprised Madan Gowri, Content Creator & Youth Icon; Sonal Devraj & Nicole Concessao: Team Naach, Content Creators & Choreographers; and Shlok Srivastava AKA Tech Burner, YouTube Content Creator.
Opening the discussion for the first panel, Pranay asked Kubbra about her journey to becoming an influencer. “A tiny voice in my big head said, 'success would be defined if I became an endorser.' By the time I became a celebrity, word endorser became an influencer,” she replied. She added that though she’s still learning and unravelling the secrets of being an influencer, she one doesn’t believe in the product, they shouldn’t talk about it.
Adding to Kubbra 's statement, Mini said that becoming an influencer was never part of the goal, and her social media is just an extension of her real life.
She elaborated, “With me, it’s always about accessibility. Even my on-screen persona is not that of a star. I have always been someone with whom people can relate too, and my social media is a reflection of that. I have been real, and I feel that really connects with people.”
Mini added that during Covid-19 lockdown, social media had been her only mode of expression.
Taking the conversation forward, Savi expressed her inhibitions with the word "influencer". She said, “Term influencer became pejorative these days that you don’t want to connect. When we started out influencer journey because we wanted to enable and empower people with our experience. She further said that the internet is an amazing medium as it instantly connects everyone. Empowering part of social media is that the content creator controls the narrative.
Nishant agreed with Savi and said that the word is sometimes abused or overused. "But it carries a lot of responsibility and value that content creator offers to their audiences,” she added.
Talking about Tourism Australia's regular collaboration with influencers, Nishant said, “I saw travellers from India to Australia getting quadrupled over the last decade, and it’s primarily because of working closely with influencers. They helped us make the people-to-people link between the two countries.”
He quoted comedian Paul Hogan to emphasize on the importance of making that connection. Hogan had said, "If you visit someone's place and you have a good time, it’s because of the company and not the furniture.”
Kubbra believes that having a connection with the brand before endorsing it is the mantra behind a successful collaboration. She said, “If I do any, I need to understand where I fit in the brand story. It has to be a story that I can authentically say, otherwise I can be called out.”
Savi added to it by saying that accountability and responsibility are hallmarks of the whole influencer business.
Mini too supported her fellow panellists. Talking about her personal experience, she said, “I don’t promote anything that I won’t be proud of using. You can easily tell the fakes. When brands approach me, I always ask them if they’d give me control over the narrative. I tell them that it won’t work for them of they make me do things their way. If I’m taking the money, I want to make sure brands get something out of it. That way I also build credibility for myself as an influencer.”
She added that while endorsing, content should be believable and organic, and it should represent quality and credibility.
Making an observation about the current trends, Swarup said, "Buying Media and Influencer Marketing is very different. Brands often get confused between the two."
Savi added the lots of brands underestimate the intelligence of the audience by selling lies. “When collaborating, brands should work with influencers, rather than influencer for brands. Authenticity and flexibility should be the cornerstone of Influencer marketing,” she added
Vidit added that there has to be individuality in campaigns. Brands should let influencer connect with their audience in their way.
Mini believes that brands should do some homework before approaching influencers, and see beforehand if the influencer's way of storytelling resonates with the brand.
Nishant said in conclusion that the essence of influencer marketing lies in making real people talk about authentic experience, and tell their real stories.
Starting the conversation with the next set of panellists, Pranay again asked the panellists about the inception of their journeys. Shlok said, "It was falling in love to create the content. It then increases to make it for all the platforms".
He added that Covid-19 has taught the influencers the art of adaptation according to the situation. He added that it’s a good time for influencers in India as the Indian audience is supporting Indian content.
On brands adapting to the changes due to Covid-19, Nicole commented that in the first month, things were murky, but now brands are willing to make sure how influencers can project them in best possible way.
Talking about what’s work best with the audience, Shlok said, "It’s a collaboration of Brand, Influencer, and Audience. If all three gets aligned, it will work. If you don't match the audience requirement, the brand purpose fails."
Adding to his statement, Madan said that brands can come up with what they are looking for, but let content creators create their magic. Pranay too urged brands to give more control to the Influencer. He said, “Influencer marketing should be beyond defined messaging.”
“People know you as a person and know what resonates with you. If the product doesn’t resonate with you, people call you out,” added Sonal.
Concluding the session, Shlok observed that social commerce is the next big thing. People can easily access the brands recommended by the Influencer.
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