Monthly Archives: July 2018

Has The Influencer Cat Escaped the Bag?

The On Purpose #CriticalMatters series was started to deliberate on some hard questions. This Twitter-specific brainstorm exercise by us has its interests spread across matters relevant to the field of communications and of our larger goal of championing social change.

On July 6th, the @onpurposecomms handle hosted a tweet chat on a question that so many of us in the communications industry have been mulling over – Is this the end of the influencer era?

Clearly, there were no easy, straightforward answers to be had here! Which is why the tweet chat included three highly-experienced guests, all of whom graciously accepted to be on the panel – Karan Bhandari (@karanbhandari), Arvind Passey (@arvindpassey), and Moushumi Dutt (@moushumidutt).

Karan Bhandari, Head of Digital Marketing at Weber Shandwick and, Arvind Passey, a well-known name in the influencer circuit, aptly put forth that a majority of brands are testing the influencer waters but not many brands are willing to think out-of-the-box and bet huge monies yet.

I can immediately think of brands (in India) like Godrej, Royal Enfield and Nykaa (the e-commerce cosmetic portal) who have managed to build a very loyal community of influencers, who are also their customers. Their entire focus is nothing but enriching the brand experience for their end user. As Brian Solis writes in his research study – The Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing that “this is a call for a new era of marketing beyond influence to improve the journeys for customers and stakeholders everywhere.”

The Current Scenario:

Here’s what is happening. We’ve only become comfortable with the idea of giving access or money to the influencers with very little thought about the benefit to the end user. The impact of influencer content on their followers has reached a plateau and that’s where we’re losing the marketer’s confidence.

  1. Today’s SM savvy audience is well aware that every time an influencer is roped in by a brand, there is a monetary transaction involved and hence, it greatly compromises on the authenticity of the content and the brand. And authenticity can’t be bought. As Moushumi Dutt, a veteran in the communications industry advises brands to choose influencers with care.

  2. Each time, we select influencers for our brand engagement, we make the same mistake of going after the well-networked influencer with an envious ‘follower’ count and reach. As Arvind Passey who speaks for the influencer community states that at times, brands completely negate the maturity of content and their relevance to the end audience.
  3. Influencer engagement is not rocket science. It is like any other relationship that is based on mutual value, and a continued engagement over a period of time. Like Kate Mathews, Strategic PR Director of Stickyeyes says, “Brands need a genuine link with influencers and influencers need a genuine link with their audience, which in turn closes the loop in connecting audience and brand.”

The verdict from the experts? Influencer marketing is here to stay but here’s what needs an ear.

  • If there’s mutual value, it’ll click

  • Don’t be afraid to start a partnership and co-create content

  • Go beyond the follower count! We’ve said that enough

  • It is only prudent for brands to declare the sponsorship openly and voluntarily. It only makes you more credible

  • Keep your end user in mind, before defining your influencer strategy

If you have any thoughts about this blog, do leave your comments below. We’re always eager to chat up! 🙂


Find Your Own Calling. Don’t Just Follow Others.”- How Shilpa Became A Popular Mangaluru Entrepreneur

Shilpa quietly walks up to the lectern, her eyes shyly scanning the applauding crowd in the room. She wrings her hands for a few seconds before leaning in and speaking. Her soft-spoken style and calm demeanour stand in contrast to the steely determination she has shown in her life and for which on this day she is at the St. Agnes College (Autonomous), Mangaluru, to collect the first-ever ‘Woman Entrepreneur Award’ by the Ethel Prabhu Foundation.

Set up as a way of encouraging women entrepreneurs from Mangaluru who are below the age of 50, the award is a perfect homage to Ethel Prabhu, who had been an inspirational teacher and a spirited entrepreneur herself. Shilpa, deservedly, becomes the first in a hopefully long line of entrepreneurs who will carry this legacy forward.

The proprietor of the popular Halli Mane Rotties food truck in the city, Shilpa began to forge a path of her own when about a decade ago, she suddenly found herself singly responsible for her young child and her livelihood. From the depths of despair, she found a calling. “I had always been interested in cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I realised then to try to use that skill to earn a living,” she recalled on the day of the award ceremony. Today, her business, run from the belly of a Mahindra Bolero pick-up truck, has become near-iconic. All the press coverage recently caught the eye of Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group, via Twitter, and led to the company investing in Shilpa’s venture through another Bolero pick-up truck to help her expand the business. The new truck will serve more customers in the city, after first undergoing some specific embellishments in Bengaluru.

It has been a heady journey for Shilpa and her family, and she never fails to mention how blessed she feels. It is also a story that has incredible hard work as its basis. The family’s day starts at 7 am. Shilpa’s mother, father and brother are all involved in the goings-on, especially since some recent health troubles have forced Shilpa to slow down and not stand around cooking as much as she used to earlier. All hands get busy in the household, some shopping for vegetables, some preparing the masalas, some readying the foundations of the dishes. Shilpa is the brains behind the culinary details – the recipes and innovations are all hers. By afternoon, the food is ready and carted off to the truck close-by, with brisk business running from about 5 pm to 10 pm. On some days, the food runs out by 9 pm!

Halli Mane Rotties serves an impressive variety of Malnad dishes, with some items dedicated to certain days of the week. Shilpa rattles off a long list of mouth-watering dishes as she explains her work – ragi mudde, donne biriyani, thatte idli, chicken curry – and one can’t help zoning out to imagine the appetising aroma and taste that her food truck must bring into people’s lives! “I am happy to have found an income doing what I love doing. I feel that is important. It should never be about, oh she is doing that so I will do that too and replicate her success. One needs to find one’s own strength and go after that!” Priceless entrepreneurial advice indeed!