Perhaps, the most important testimonial that influencer marketing could ever receive is the fact that even the “recession-proof” wedding industry has turned to influencers to garner word-of-mouth. “We felt the need to let Indian couples know that we are there to provide them with the support they need, in a safe and organised manner. That is what gave us the idea to create the Karo #ShaadiKiTaiyari campaign with WeddingWire India. We decided to work with influencers who are relatable, and share their personal stories on wedding preparation so that couples can engage with them, and know that they are not alone,” says Anam Zubair, Marketing Head, WeddingWire India.
“The outcome of this campaign has been very fruitful, as it helped us reach a vast audience — new and old — through these influencers and WeddingWire India’s social media handles. We have witnessed several conversions during the process, and we’re humbled to say that it is still ongoing. As per the website traffic, from the launch of the campaign till now, we have observed an increase in the total number of users by 25 per cent, with the number of new users increasing by 27 per cent,” Zubair adds.
On the part of the influencers, they believe that brands are turning to them not only because of their massive following, but also because they form a more personal connection with their followers. Bhuvan Bam, who recently crossed the epic milestone of 20 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, says that via influencer marketing, brands can tap into a wider content base, which can be more authentic as opposed to a “selfserving narrative”. However, he also notes that it is important for brands to treat influencers differently than they would mainstream celebrities, so as to not taint the creator’s signature personality. That is easier said than done in a world where the lines between celebrity fame and social media fame are blurred.
Due to the immense pull of influencers, production houses are willing to invest vast sums of money to get content creators in their movies. Bam has already worked on a short film called Plus Minus, and is now working on a series called Dhindora. “Productions are always looking for fresh faces and new talents for films in order to attract a younger demographic. Influencers and content creators are already adored by many in the social media sphere. Because of their talent, people want to see more of them, and Bollywood becomes a pretty evident choice,” Bam says. However, with rising awareness about social media malpractices (followers, likes, and yes, even a verification tick can be bought), brands are no longer just looking for influencers with large followings. Synergy with the brand’s ethos and follower engagement is increasingly becoming a deciding factor for brands who wish to collaborate with influencers.
“Influencer marketing will continue to be a key focus area for OnePlus. The past year, when on-ground interactions were a big challenge, digital marketing and influencer engagement played an important role in helping us effectively engage with our community. The number of followers only plays a role in our decision making when it comes to working with larger influencers. However, what plays a bigger role is the resonance they have with our brand. It is important that there is a synergy, and the message they are propagating is in line with the brand’s vision,” says Siddhant Narayan, Head of Marketing, OnePlus India. Delhi-based men’s lifestyle blogger, Tejeshwar Sandhoo may not have a large following, but he’s ensured that his personal brand image remains consistent ever since he started five years ago. People who follow him are interested in luxury and high-end products and hence, despite there being a plethora of male bloggers to choose from, a legacy brand like Gucci decided to go ahead with Sandhoo as part of their #GucciTailoring campaign. Sandhoo currently has 91,200 followers on Instagram.
While a brand like Nykaa will look at influencers with a larger following to fulfil their goal of conversions (i.e., current and future purchases), others like Gucci look at brand recall. After all, if Sandhoo can even pull off one conversion for a Gucci campaign, it’ll benefit the brand financially, considering the cost. However, the most powerful influencers are those who can achieve both. “A successful influencer campaign should ideally achieve both — brand recall as well as purchase. All of our influencer campaigns for Airbnb aim to achieve a mix of both — increased brand awareness as well as leverage the power of authentic influence to drive bookings from the fanbase of the influencers we have partnered with,” says Simran Kodesia, Communications Lead, Southeast Asia, Airbnb.
Perhaps, that is why Monk Entertainment co-founder Viraj Sheth, who is a kingmaker of sorts in the influencer marketing business, strongly believes that the true test of a digital celebrity is the ability to get their audience off their couches, and gather them for an event offline. “Many fail to do so. Likes mean nothing if they won’t come see you in person,” he says. From a financial point of view, Sheth also states that the reason influencer marketing is more feasible with a brand’s annual budget is because in traditional marketing, the brand has to hire a creative agency, a casting agency, a production agency and a media buying agency, but in the world of influencer marketing, the influencer creates, casts, produces, and distributes the content all by themselves.
Brands who haven’t engaged in influencer marketing have also benefited from the power of social media. Motherland launched their now-popular Dark & Lovely T-shirt in 2014, but it wasn’t until Dolly Singh shared an image of herself wearing it on Instagram that the brand saw a 3X growth in sales for the tee, and a 300 per cent increase in website traffic. And those brands that cannot afford to pay an influencer or aren’t fortunate enough to grab their attention like Motherland did, tend to gift their new launches to top influencers in the hopes that they’ll share them on their social media platform. That’s what Sepoy & Co. did with their Hibiscus and Elderflower floral flavoured tonics. The company saw a 25 per cent increase in the orders of the tonics online, and ran out of their Diwali Limited Edition Floral Gift Sets due to the immediate increase in sales. But whatever path you choose on your influencer journey, whether it is end-game Bollywood like Prajakta Koli and Dolly Singh, or maintaining brand image like Sandhoo, relatability and reinvention is key, believes Ranveer Allahbadia.
One of India’s OG influencers, Allahbadia began his journey about seven years ago and with time, he’s taken his followers with him on his personal quest for growth. A journey that started off with fitness videos and simple styling tips for the ordinary Indian guy, has now led him to a place where he interviews icons like Priyanka Chopra and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Allahbadia was also the first few influencers to see the digital penetration that would take place in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities due to Jio. Accordingly, he launched a YouTube channel in Hindi, and worked towards becoming a “regional influencer” — a decision that will bode him well, considering that this new batch of influencers offer an ROI that is unmatchable. “While working on building brand awareness, we’ve seen impressive reach, upwards of one million views on a single YouTube video or more than 250,000 likes on Instagram with decent engagement levels through some of these influencers. Regional influencers, in particular, seem to deliver greater effectiveness when it comes to measuring campaign performance through other metrics, including ROAS and Conversion Rate,” says Rachit Mehra, Senior Manager marketing, Phy.