I wrote a small piece for The Hindu today on Influencer Marketing, how it has changed and whether the bubble will burst. I love it when my features come out on Sundays! Grab yourselves your morning coffee and read on. I’m also sharing the original key-phrases and answers that were exchanged for this very piece because there is more matter in that. Hope you guys enjoy reading!
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you don’t as yet.
Here are the original key-phrases and answers:
– First movers advantage
Timing does happen to be quite a crucial point – for example, the influencers who rode the instagram wave when it had just begun are reaping huge benefits now but if somebody were to start an instagram account now, it is excruciatingly hard to find organic engagement. I remember when I had joined instagram, people were genuinely excited about consuming content, discovering new accounts and following someone because they enjoyed their feed and wanted more. Now, the algorithms have changed, instagram has been bought over by facebook and seems to be following a similar path of ‘pump in money to reach an audience’, reach is at an all time low and the market itself is stagnating. The shift from wanting to consume good quality content to it being only about numbers is a very prominent one.
One huge advantage I feel I have of starting early (not just on instagram but with my blog much earlier to that) is the loyalty of readers who enjoyed my content back then – they haven’t left and they still happen to genuinely like it, engage with me and support me in ways that the new reader would not perhaps comprehend.
– The growing tribe of influencers, and how that has changed the way you approach your work
With the growth of any industry there is always a growth of competition and while that is a natural course and is even welcome, in a chaotic market like India, where people/clients/brands don’t truly understand the purpose of influencers, how to tap their talent and the importance of content it can be quite difficult to stand your ground and maintain the quality of your content when only numbers are being looked at and content is no longer king. I have personally seen well reputed brands in India hire agencies to get instagrammers who are willing to work for nearly no fee, have no sense of their relationship with the brand, no story to follow, about half a million bought following with abysmal engagement, to their event with absolutely no grasp on how their brand would probably get affected by this. When such practices become more common than you’d want, it does get a bit terrifying at times but I take it as a sort of cleansing where I get to learn exactly where I stand, what I can bring to a particular brand and what they are missing out on by not collaborating with me. This in turn reduces the workload I have, allows me to focus on the good working relationships that I already have and actually gives me time to create much better content for brands who truly appreciate it. It may have seemingly slowed down my pace of work, but in the long run I know that it makes me a better rooted, stronger influencer with a greater market value.
– How pitches from companies have changed over the years
Currently, it’s only about instagram, the number of followers you have and the number of likes your image will garner. This is our brief, this is the image we want (picked up from a campaign run by a foreign brand) and this is when we want it for approval. Earlier, it used to be – ‘This is the campaign we are thinking of running, what do you think of it, would you like to be a part of it, what story/concept would you follow for your content, we love your work and trust your creative abilities and give you the freedom to come up with your best work. And that work used to be showcased on a blog more importantly than any social media app where the readers would get a real sense of the story and campaign, see larger images, get immersed in the experience and come back for seconds perhaps.
– What the future holds, in your opinion
In countries like USA and UK there has already been a major streamlining of influencers – depending on their campaign, the brand decides whether they want to spend their budget on a few major influencers or a few more macro influencers. The ones that have been working for years and had the first movers advantage are the ones who still dominate the market. In India there is still a lot of chaos, the market is still booming, people are still getting onto the influencer bandwagon and purchasing their starter kit of a few hundred thousand followers while very few know how to work with each other to create good work. I do feel a bit of stagnation and perhaps the bubble may not burst as violently as a lot of people had thought it would. And if we have learnt anything from the past, it’s that India will eventually follow in the footsteps of the Western world and hopefully a bit of streamlining may take place here as well. Brands are getting smarter and learning through sheer experience so even in the stagnation, quality will always stand out and prosper. Or so is the hope!