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Branding it Right! How Social Media Influencers Choose Their Partnerships Brand marketing has transitioned from merely 'pay to post' transactions to connecting with the audience through value content

By Aastha Singal

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Entrepreneur India

Social Media has empowered the artists and creative minds to showcase their brilliance on a larger scale. Over the years, people have come to realize that forming a connection with the audience need not be through television, radio or other major broadcasting services; internet has taken over that boat a long time ago.

The organic content and relativity is the key to go viral in today's time and space. A number of social media users have transitioned from content creators for self-promotion to promoting big brands by using their ability to influence millions. With everything going digital, marketers have found a seamless solution to reach the engaged audience.

Approaching suitable content creators who can seamlessly integrate their products in their content takes major efforts on the part of brand marketers. However, influencers have the final say on whether they would promote the product or not as today, influencers are involved with the brand for more for than a "pay to post' transaction.

Entrepreneur India talked to some high-in-demand social media influencers to find how they choose their brands:

Curated Content

Influencers have created an identity of their own based on the kind of content they create. Every new piece of content they create, millions of their followers get influenced. While choosing brand for collaboration, social media influencers need to keep in mind the sensibilities of their audience as well as the effort they have made to create a market image for themselves.

Every content creator has a personality of their own and if the brand they associate themselves with doesn't allow them to make their voice heard, it is not the right one for them. "It is a conscious decision taken to make sure we only speak of and promote brands that fit seamlessly in the content. Only then is it beneficial to the creator as well as the brand," opined YouTuber Prajakta Koli, famously known as MostlySane.

It takes months for an influencer to establish himself among the masses and growing a hold over them, strong enough to obtain the power of influencing their ideologies and thought-process. Reaching out to the right kind of audience is a conscious effort and "curating content, engaging with the audience and shooting may affect your audience in more ways than you can imagine," added Koli.

Audience Connect

Influencers feed off the connection they build with their audience base which ultimately helps in their transition from being a content creator to influencer. Consistency, however, plays the most important role in genuinely striking a chord with the audience and inspiring them in their daily lives.

"From the way they speak to the clothes they wear, things like these are heavily affect them (audience) in one way or another," said popular YouTuber Ajey Nagar, majorly addressed as CarryMinati. It is important to pick brands which reflect your identity and relate with your audience. "Endorsing just every other brand may not resonate with the personality of the influencer and thus the audience."

Digital marketers also make conscious efforts in finding the creators suitable for their brands for seamlessly integrating their products in the influencers' content. Influencing is "about providing valuable content, making a genuine connection with the audience and inspiring them, and for me it's focused on making them laugh!" stated CarryMinati.

Brand Understanding

Brand influencing is not merely about adding another post to your social media feed about genuinely understanding the product and the ideology of marketers associated with the particular product. Majority of influencers stay focused on their own product which consists their social media feed or YouTube channel and don't pay much heed to the brand they are promoting.

Beerbiceps aka Ranveer Allahbadia feels, "You need to understand your product as well as the product you are selling and what the brand wants to project. Here the skill required is mixing the two worlds." Brand selection is a very tricky game and influencers need to be extremely selective in the choosing process as any brand that does not align with their brand image could affect their audience base adversely.

"Any brand you associate with, you are rubbing a part of your own image on that brand and that brand is rubbing its image on you," the fitness influencer added. All influencers start with only one motive of entertaining before jumping into the business of money making. In India, the power of social media is yet to be explored to its full potential but in coming five years, the scenario would be completely different, believes Allahbadia.

Personal Connection

Social media influencing is much more than posting pretty pictures on Instagram or uploading funny videos on YouTube. Most influencers use their respective platform to spread positivity, according to Allahbadia. Ameen Khan of Nazar Battu Productions however feels that influencing is an art. "It takes a lot of sweat and hard work to find the audience and keep them engaged, they are the priority," he said.

Influencers form a personal connection with the audience through their content, pictures and videos. All have a distinctive way of engaging people organically, something which most brands assess before approaching them. One needs to "understand the organic demand and potential influence from the right market, which comes only through regular practice and the market feedback," Khan added.

Influencer need to understand their audience and build a level of trust with them through open communication. The connection has to be strong enough for the audience to believe in your judgment for curating the right brands, in terms of product quality, brand recall, brand ethos, etc. Lifestyle blogger Bhumika Thakkar feels, "Influencer's personal brand and the product brand feed into each other in a cycle and it's important to select the right partner from both sides."

Product Belief

The new-age influencers don't believe in the mere "pay to post' transactions. With millions of people following them on social media and getting influenced by each and every one of their actions, influencers harbor a sense of responsibility towards their audiences. Every influencer has his own set of rules and ethics and refrains from promoting a product or a campaign that he does not believe in.

Sharing one of her experiences, Fashion Influencer Gia Kashyap said, "A brand was ready to pay me a hefty sum to promote a fairness cream but I rejected it as money isn't important as my work ethics. It's not just about short term goals but about long term investments." In most cases, brands ask the influencers to try out the product first, following which they decide whether to take their collaboration ahead or not.

For years people have believed that brand ambassadors only sell something they personally believe in. Only recently the awareness of celebrities making false claims about using the products they promote had surfaced, making it crucial for the influencers to not indulge in such practices for the sake of credibility.

Aastha Singal

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Features Writer

A business journalist looking to find happiness in the world of startups, investments, MSMEs and more. Officially started her career as a news reporter for News World India, Aastha had short stints with NDTV and NewsX. A true optimist seeking to make a difference, she is a comic junkie who'd rather watch a typical Bollywood masala than a Hollywood blockbuster. 

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