Items filtered by date: March 2023

A news and content platform covering everything to do with social media influencers and content creators

Over a decade ago, when the social media industry in India was in its nascent stage, I realized that there was no comprehensive platform covering all aspects of it. Hence, I founded Social Samosa, a content and news portal that soon became a successful venture, leading me to sell it after two years of expansion. Recently, I have launched, a news and content platform dedicated to social media influencers and content creators. It has been only 10 days since the launch, but the reaction and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive.

The social media market, both in India and globally, has grown tremendously over the years. With a surge in social media users, the number of social media platforms has also increased. Today, all brands recognize the significance of social media and incorporate it into their marketing strategies. As a result, there has been a notable increase in the number of players in the social media space.

While it's understandable to wonder about the societal impact of one's work, it's essential to recognize that providing employment opportunities is a significant contribution to society. By creating job opportunities through your ventures, you are not only supporting individuals and their families but also contributing to the overall economy.

Additionally, by being an entrepreneur and a role model for other women, you are encouraging and inspiring other women to pursue their dreams and be self-reliant. Your efforts to empower women in entrepreneurship can have a ripple effect and lead to greater gender diversity and inclusivity in the business world, which is a commendable contribution to society.

The future of the industry looks promising, and the growth trajectory is expected to continue upward. As digital technologies become more integrated with offline activities, the potential for social media platforms and the creator economy to expand is significant. It's likely that the creator economy will become the centre of focus for this growth, leading to new opportunities and innovations in the industry. It will be interesting to witness how this integration shapes the future of social media and the broader digital landscape.

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Sandhya Sadanand Gupta started her career in Public Relations which saw her head Brand Public Relations for Marico and later started her digital communications agency – one of the first in India.

For those of us in the communications industry, primarily public relations, the emergence of social media and the opportunities it presented was in its initial years, circa 2007, an exciting new avenue, especially since it now gave us an opportunity to directly engage with the consumer.

When we started our social media agency back in 2008, the market was non-existent and we entered in knowing that one of our biggest challenges would be market education and development.

Companies and agencies were still viewing social media with skepticism and a sense of wariness, especially in India, as unlike traditional media, this was a completely new beast and so many aspects didn't exist including set matrices to measure performance.

The rules of the game, including the platforms for social media, were evolving on a daily basis and it was a constant challenge to keep abreast with these changes.

However, knowing that it had worked in the western markets with case studies to back up the claims, we knew it was a matter of time before it would explode, and explode it did, so much so that in a little over a decade, digital communications has now become a key factor to a brand's success.

When we started our agency, Twitter had about 500 people from India; however, platforms like Orkut, Facebook and avenues like blogs were seeing increasing traction and that strengthened our belief that when the consumer moved to these platforms, brands would have to follow and would need communication specialists to ease their journey into this new world.

No successful campaign is complete without digital today and there are many brands who have solely built their reputation and sales using digital communications.

The evolution of the industry has also been propelled by the understanding that content is king and many outfits have mushroomed that solely exist to meet the increasing demands of the digital world which a traditional agency might not be necessarily equipped to handle.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this industry, and which holds true since its nascent stage, is the ever-changing nature of it. It is constantly changing and marketeers need to be able to adapt quickly to meet the constant changes.

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I lead the digital marketing silo of The Content Lab. This part of the business was a fitment to an existing creative studio and production business, so that we could offer early journey and established brands a one-stop solution for their integrated marketing services and content creation.

The digital realm is an evolving space, and the industry has certainly changed over the last few years. Modifications in social media and paid search algorithms, the significance of content creators and ‘followers’ becoming a major currency have been significant markers to these changes. Short format over long-form storytelling, and snackable content are the need of the hour for brands that choose digital as the primary medium of marketing.

Our digital wing works with a number of early journey brands in the earth conscious space.

It’s thrilling to work with brands that want to make a difference. Crafting the voice and presence of vegan, women, clean-ingredients- focused brands is extremely rewarding for us.

I feel that the next three years will find traditional marketing concepts toppled in their heads. The independent creator economy is already on the rise, but it is likely to surpass traditional marketing methods by a far margin. Given this scenario, we hope to further our expertise in this space, and leverage this for our partner brands.

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I've run Sonologue since 2008. When I started, I was a podcaster. I was creating the content, recording the content, and doing all the back-end work, and producing my own podcast. My background is in journalism, so I wasn't new to the idea of creating interviews and features myself. I just needed to learn a new skill set in terms of sound editing, engineering, mixing.

Working with the sound and then distributing it, which is very different for audio than it would be for, say, at that point in 2008, blogging was very big. In some ways it was similar. We had to upload it to a platform, burn an RSS feed and then distribute it. We didn't have smartphones. So we had to link it up with the cable from the cloud (well, we didn't even call it a cloud then), from the internet server to our desktop or laptop and then use a cable to download it onto an MP3 player. That's how it began.

When I started, my business was not exactly where it is now. It has morphed and also expanded with the changing times. When I started, the business market opportunities I saw were actually in the existing media. I thought I would make programming for terrestrial radio stations. So, I approached FM stations and then community radio stations to try to sell them informational, interesting and educational, but also innovative, audio programming.

Podcasting was something I was doing on the side for myself because none of these radio stations wanted content that was not Bollywood or cricket, and that is all they were interested in running on their broadcasts. Since I saw no avenue to talk to interesting people, I interviewed them on culture. One of the first podcasts I started was about Indians returned from abroad (i.e. Indians who had moved away in the 90’s or the 80’s and the challenges they were facing when they returned in the 2000’s). I saw no market opportunities for those either. Then I focused on getting ads, translated videos in audio non-fiction, but not in terms of actual programming and content.

My business goals were to sell the content to existing platforms. I realized very quickly that that was not going to happen. With podcasting, I could not sustain being a podcaster; it was a very nascent field. People didn't even understand what it was. Also, I couldn't find anybody to pay me for it. So I continued to freelance in social media and even took up a job in audio non-fiction production, making self-guided audio tours for a while, while I made podcasts as a side hustle.

Again, there were no business and marketing opportunities at that point, except for radio stations. As you can see, podcasting has evolved quite a bit since then. I will add though, that around 2011, what I figured out was that the market wasn't growing and I had to do my bit to grow it. That's when I started teaching podcasting workshops.

My goal was to increase the tribe. I thought if I teach people how to make them, it will grow the supply side of the business. The thought was, if I teach ten people to make a podcast, they will tell 100 people to listen to their podcasts and then we will incrementally grow the field. That was what I started doing. I started teaching workshops on making audio programming content and podcasting so that it would grow itself. And so, that was an opportunity I saw and seized, and I continued to do podcasts there. This too has evolved since then.

Then Spotify, an audio streaming platform, entered the scene. Spotify hooked people through music to come on to podcasts. They gave people a platform to upload, distribute, record, even podcasts for free. It did all of us a big favour in many ways by making podcasts mainstream. So that was a big step in the evolution of podcasts in India, a missed opportunity by many, many players up till then because nobody had that kind of size and might that Spotify did and does. It ushered in a new era. So that's part of the podcasting evolution.

Simultaneously, non-profit organizations started to see that podcasts are a very good way to give voice to the people who are generally not represented in mainstream media. You know, they're usually filtered through a narrator or a corporate or a funding agency, and a podcast literally gives you access to their voice, the actual voices of people in the ground, on the ground. I got invited to do workshops for developmental organizations, which is very fulfilling for me. That too has been an evolution in terms of reach of what podcasts are being used for as a tool.

A lot of people wanted to start making podcasts because they understood they would have a first-mover advantage and they would be able to position themselves as industry- or thought-leaders by putting out content that could be consumed in audio. When smartphones came along, they understood the beauty of podcasts, and the reason podcasts are still exciting, relevant and will continue to be, is that they're one of the few ways you can share or consume information that is location agnostic, time agnostic, and also because you can access anything that you want. It's a pull medium so people can seek out what they need actively rather than passively consuming. You can find what you want when you want, where you want and from wherever you want.

People who understood that as early as 2016-17 started to get in touch with me to help them create podcasts. It was helpful because it turned into my calling card. It was proof of concept that I could produce with my team, very good quality audio, and that's what translated into the market opening up for me. People started to appreciate that this is a valuable piece of content, and that it is very targeted because people are coming to it from an interest, not passively.

Because I work with non-fiction generally, I've also worked with the nonprofit sector. With a background and training in journalism, I've always wanted to give voice to the people who are marginalized or underrepresented. And, on this, Sonologue occupies a sort of niche. That’s not to say that that’s all we do, but we have done a lot of work which helps other nonprofits find us. And we're very, very grateful for the opportunity because this is the missing link, I think, in letting society understand what is happening around them.

It is like breaking bread with somebody or hearing somebody's story that lets people connect to each other. And podcasts are the most immediate way of doing that. So, I feel very strongly about the benefit of getting real people, real voices, real solutions to real problems aired out and in their own voices. That's perhaps a very narrow way of looking at what I do and what Sonologue does... even if you extrapolate that to people who just want to review food or share their personal experience on a topic like mental health or education.

Authentic stories are always crucial to help get a society educated, informed and entertained… to grow from it. I really feel that podcasting is noble in that way. You can call me very optimistic, even naïve, or that I've got rose-coloured glasses on about the role podcasting plays in society, but I think it is totally beneficial.

I can't speak about what's going to happen in three years, but I do feel that a distinction will need to be made between the podcasters who are big players and have teams working with them (I would like to call them indie podcasters), and podcasters who work solo, or possibly with 1 or 2 other people, and no monetary gain in terms of their approach and in terms of their reach.

I think the market is only going to grow, and what I expect to see is better opportunities for monetization for the indie podcasters. I hope (and I really am holding out on hope for this), that people who podcast because they feel like they have something to say even without the backing of a studio or a commissioning agency will continue to speak their truth and turn it into something they can do full time. I think that time will come. So, that's what I'm looking forward to in terms of growth and change in the podcasting industry.

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