Content media

Social media is no longer the content hub for brands – advocacy is: Karthik Nagarajan, Wavemaker

Speaking on “Seven content provocations in the omnichannel era” at the fourth edition of Straight Talk in Chennai on November 18, 2022, Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker and Head of Branded Content, GroupMhighlighted the fundamental shift in the path of consumer experience.

The days when the product created the experience, which created the reputation, which in turn created the brand, are over, he said.

“The big change, which has accelerated over the last five or six years, is that the product, the audience and the occasion together create the experience. Experience then creates reputation. But the reputation continues to create the brand again and again,” explained Nagaraj, giving a thematic presentation during the seminar.

There are several injection points for the same idea today, the speaker noted, citing the case of Tide TV commercials mimicking other famous Superbowl commercials and sparking conversations.

“The experience we create in a medium permeates everything,” noted Nagaraj, also showcasing Wavemaker India’s work around Cadbury’s association with the Mumbai Indians IPL team.

As part of the campaign, for every point the team scored, Cadbury Dairy Milk provided health insurance for two daily workers, totaling over 5,500 policies. In addition, the sale of specially wrapped “Thank You” chocolate bars has helped fund the health insurance of more than 25,000 domestic workers.

Advocacy is in

“Social media used to be the hub where all content comes together. Until 2014 or 2015, all brands were spending to increase their audience on social networks. There was an inherent belief that they were building a community there through branded handles. Something has changed in the last three to four years. Today, social media is not the hub of all brand content. Advocacy is – influencers and creators are, “ said Nagaraj, pointing to another drastic shift in the content space.

Engagement on content posted on brand handles, even if it’s content featuring celebrities, is not as strong as content posted by influencers or creators, the speaker pointed out, with examples.

“The question then is what is the future of brand handles on social media? Do we need to build them? Do we need to spend money on it and create content calendars for it “Or, are creators and influencers our social media touchpoints and platforms? That’s something we need to think about. The numbers certainly say things are going in the influencers’ direction,” said the content manager.

No one is as interested in following a brand as following a creator, he added.

Citing the example of Olx Autos’ campaign featuring director Rohit Shetty and actor Sharman Joshi, Nagaraj noted that an influencer content piece can start at any given time and span the spectrum. Influencers also help reach media dark areas for categories like alcohol, the speaker explained.

“There are many other areas where we bring cultural relevance,” Nagaraj said, with the example of content created by music composer Illayaraaja for Netflix (Stranger Things), to help convey that there is a lot of regional content on the OTT platform.

Calling the composer an influencer would seem blasphemous to many, the speaker noted, adding that when the brief was to appeal to generations, they thought of Illayaraaja whose music influenced multiple generations. The intention was to reach beyond the mainstream audience who were already watching the show and it worked, Nagaraj said.

While the decision to enlist at Illayaraaja was based on instinct, 90% of influencers are chosen based on data points, the speaker revealed. To be precise, more than 100 data points go into this decision.

“Behind every content or influencer decision at GroupM, there are at least 100 data variables at play. It’s not just about location and demographics, it’s also about brand safety. “Today, the choice of an influencer also depends on the sincerity of their followers. We have made wise decisions by adopting the data-driven approach for influencers”, he explained.

According to Nagaraj, there is also a shift from commerce on influencer platforms to influencers on commerce platforms.

He cited the case of Nothing, which leveraged influencers to sell its phones online in record time on Flipkart.

Exclusive influencer content created for loyal members on Myntra, which features purchasable merchandise, saw 50% of wishlisted merchandise, he revealed.

A celebrity influencer marketing campaign for an oral care brand generated views but had a 0.2% engagement rate, while a community marketing campaign (sent to groups of interest) saw 42% engagement from comments.

Another example that made it clear that the needle is indeed pointing towards influencers and communities.

“The way forward for brands is definitely to create these communities or be part of these communities on social platforms,” Nagaraj assumed.