25 Aug 2017
4 min read
It's been over a year since Response Corp, a digital marketing company, rolled out their first digital influencer marketing product--Uptrendly. A marketing platform that brings together brands with influencers, Uptrendly is challenging traditional marketing notions by coming up with cost-efficient and creative brand-endorsement avenues.
In this interview with M&S VMAG, the CEO of Response Corp, Raghav Bahadur Swar, talks about his vision for his company and its subsidiary entity, Uptrendly, about how the marketing sector is seeing transformations (from an earlier focus on traditional marketing strategies to brands now placing more importance on digital marketing) and about the future of Response Corp.
What's your aim and vision for Response Corp?
Response Corp is a digital marketing company made up of experts with over 20 years of experience in digital strategies, marketing and brand outreach. Our subsidiary company, Uptrendly, is the only influencer marketing platform in Nepal that offers demographically and contextually targeted campaigns for brands and agencies. Uptrendly, which started last year, has already partnered with a diverse group of the largest and most impactful companies in Nepal.
Tell us more about Uptrendly.
Uptrendly is an innovative platform that helps a brand generate loyal brand following on social media platforms by partnering with influencers. Influencers can comprise anyone from celebrities and bloggers to people who have carved out a strong reputation in some industry. Influencers carry a lot of credibility on social media and have the undivided attention of their audience. As a result, partnering with them helps the brand reach a wider target audience base. At Uptrendly, we also identify the right influencers for different sectors, help manage the brand's engagement with the influencers and measure the impact of social media and web content, events and campaigns.
Why would clients prefer digital marketing over traditional media, and what's the significance of digital-influencer marketing?
Consumers are increasingly turning away from the traditional advertising domains of TV and print towards platforms hosted on electronic devices. With the explosion of digital technology, a transformation of marketing is underway. Today's customers use smartphones, iPads and laptops, and even smartwatches to access content. The challenge for brands is to connect with customers on all these devices and create campaigns that work across various social media platforms. Digital marketing also has greater relevance in today's world as messages can be targeted with laser-like focus at a specific target audience. This is where influencer marketing comes in as an effective platform to reach a specific target audience. When you align the brands with the influencers, not only do they connect their audience with your brand, but also their audience's network. The loyalty of their audience helps the influencer to drive traffic to a brand's social media platforms, increase social media exposure, and flat-out sell products through the influencers' recommendations. It all comes down to the fact that people trust influencers. Whenever one of these people writes or talks about the brand, other people automatically listen. Unlike with traditional media, you can also quantify the value of influencer relationships--we can show the business value of an influencer by understanding how an influencer's audience responds to a product.
Which influencers and brands are you working with?
We are working with nearly 100 influencers from across different sectors--we work with sports stars, corporate heads, models, actors, singers, bloggers. We have influencers such as Rekha Thapa, the famous actress; Anil Shah, CEO of Mega Bank; Deepak Raj Giri, the well-regarded comedian and actor; Nima Rumba, one of Nepal's more popular singers. As for brands, we have partnered with Ncell, Suzuki, Mega Bank, Samsung, Gorkha Brewery, Tata, Closeup, and so on.
How can you ensure that the influencer's identity best matches the brand you are working with?
We understand that influencers can do quite a lot to establish a brand's identity--that people begin to recognise the brand through the influencers. In order to iron out incongruencies in product pitching and an influencer's own brand identity, we have come up with ways to ensure that influencers do whatever's needed to keep a brand's identity intact. For starters, we let the company select influencers who they think can best represent their brand. We also seek to encourage influencers and brands to get on the same page and to completely internalise the messaging, as this ensures the brand's messages are consistent and coherent.
What's in it for the influencers?
For influencers, partnering with reputed brands and agencies will burnish their image in the market, and in some ways, aligning with a good brand also ups their own brand value as a celebrity or public figure. It also opens up other possibilities for them: they could end up becoming brand ambassadors and spokespersons of the companies they are associated with. And then there's of course the immediate rewards that come from being an influencer: One of our influencers has earned up to Rs 40,000 from a single post on Facebook--additional revenue streams aren't ever a bad thing.
How important is selecting the right influencers?
Choosing the right or wrong influencer can oftentimes determine whether a company's digital campaign will be a success or failure. Hence, we review our influencers by assessing their credentials. We carefully study a prospective influencer's overall presence before we get in touch with them. We find their target audience base, what kind of audience niches they cater to, and what other brands they promote. High follower-counts can also give you an idea of how wide their reach is. We get down to the nitty-gritty of reviewing the right influencers, but it's the agencies that have the final say on who they want to associate with.
What's next for Response Corp?
We will soon be launching our C2C e-commerce website and app. We are also working on creating a revamped Uptrendly website. Our new website will be a comprehensive platform that will enable clients to oversee everything--from influencer search numbers to followers' demographics and audience reports. The website will allow you to automate the tedious process of running campaigns. We also want micro-influencers to be the new frontier in influencer marketing. Unlike traditional influencers, micro-influencers have a more modest number of followers, but their social networks comprise highly engaged close-knit audiences. With the same budget required for celebrities, brands will have the option to collaborate with 20 or 30 micro-influencers to reach different demographics and see even better engagement. Our website will also allow anyone to sign up as potential influencers, but our team of experts will, of course, review the influencers' profiles before approving them to be a part of our influencer group.
(Photos by Nirnit Tandukar)