At the Advertising Standards Council of India’s #GetItRight summit, held on 27 February in Mumbai, Sahiba Bali, associate director - marketing, Unacademy, and content creator and Aparajita Misra, head - brand solutions and platforms, Big Bang Music, decoded the effectiveness of brand influencer partnerships.
The panel was moderated by Anurag Iyer, business head, Big Bang Social.
Bali kicked off the session by putting the spotlight on how creators need to find the right brand fit for partnerships.
“As content creators, we need to decode if the brand we are partnering with works for us and our audience. The choice lies with us. We can’t just agree to partner with every brand. Our success as content creators is the people who take the time and effort to follow us. To stay authentic and genuine to an audience, content creators must be willing to choose the right brands that resonate with them”, expressed Bali.
Bali clarified that if a fairness brand came to her with an opportunity she wouldn’t be comfortable partnering with them as it doesn’t suit her morally.
Misra believed that influencers today are treated as creative directors for brands for a content piece or campaign.
She voiced, “If the brand is approaching the influencer, for their audience, they need to let the creator have the autonomy to choose the content they know will work well. Brand influencer partnerships are a marriage, and we need to make compromises on both levels. From a creative aspect, if a brand is investing in a content creator, and leveraging their reach, it has to be integrated very well.”
On Cinthol's influencer marketing campaign
Misra spoke about how the campaign ‘alive adventures’ did well for the brand and gave them the reach they required.
She expressed, “The brand Cinthol is about making you feel alive. They picked travel as a beat to connect with the storytelling aspect and make the messaging authentic. It was a six-month partnership and made us a part of their brand journey. It wasn’t just one reel but a series of content pieces, and we were a part of their storytelling process every month. The campaign spoke about what made me feel alive and integrated the brand seamlessly through the content. It led to audience engagement, helped the brand tap into newer cohorts and brand love was created in the process.”
Platforms or influencers
When asked about whether platforms or influencers are more important than each other, Misra remarked, “It depends on the target group and what the brand positioning is. Platforms and the choice of platforms depend on the kind of audience the brand wants to cater to. If the brand is targeting the GenZ audience, Instagram and Snapchat are the top picks for the brand's communications. Whereas for boomers the right platform to connect with audiences will be YouTube. The choice of platforms also depends on the type of content whether it is long-format or short-format.”
Not a numbers game
Bali believes that marketers need to find their audience cohorts first before searching for influencers to promote their brand.
“Brands should look for the type of audiences influencers have. It is important to decode who the audience is and that will help brands reach the audience they want to tap into", she explained.
Bali said, “As I represent a brand and I’m a content creator due diligence needs to be given to brand safety. Governance, risks and compliances are potent factors while approaching brand influencer partnerships. When I was working at Zomato, we wanted to get Samantha Prabhu on board for an ad campaign, but then I realised she is vegan. For a food brand, veganism is a niche audience. So, that partnership would not be authentic as we would have to force her to promote something that she doesn’t believe in.”
Talking about brand integrations that didn’t work well, Misra shared, “It is not just my responsibility to safeguard the brand, but the brand has a responsibility to safeguard the creator's brand as well. It is a partnership, hence it is important as a creator we should be aware of the consumer guidelines, and the brand’s propositioning.”
For instance, Misra did a Coca-Cola campaign that had a filter created by the company and lacked personalisation. “There were thousands of creators sending New Year's Eve invites through this filter. There was a lack of personalisation, and the brief was scripted. If any piece of content is not authentic and doesn’t relate to the creator's personality it will not connect with audiences", added Misra.
The panel ended with Misra speaking about the importance of audio.
“What makes a brand campaign pop on social media is the 30-second trending audio that is used on social media platforms. Brands should be able to hook their audiences in the first three seconds of these audio-led videos, especially in the short-video format space. This is where a background score of the brand should emerge well for social media campaigns”, summarised Misra.