Creating awareness of brands 

Debarati Palit Singh
Monday, 11 June 2018

Pranay Swarup, CEO and co-founder of Chtrbox , tells us how influence marketing works and the challenges

An influencer marketing company specialises in helping brands and their agencies leverage influencers in the most strategic, creative and efficient ways,” says Pranay Swarup, CEO and co-founder of Chtrbox. 

Founded by Swarup and Rohit Raj, Chtrbox is a technology-powered influencer marketing company that offers brands and leading agencies access to 3,50,000+ social media stars and micro influencers in India. 
Swarup, who has previously co-founded LetsIntern.com, a leading platform for college students to find internships in India from 2010 until its acquisition in 2016, believes that influencer marketing, when done right, is modern-day word-of-mouth. 

He tells us more about the concept and Chtrbox: 

What was the thought behind starting Chtrbox?
At my previous startup, we had leveraged thousands of college students as influencers for various brands, and this had helped me validate and understand the opportunity in a deep way. I believe, in many ways, we are all influencers. Word of mouth and the power of recommendation have always been the biggest triggers for brands. Now, with social media being an integral part of our lives, how we express and consume content, connect with each other, and even make our purchase-decisions online — the opportunity to harness this influence becomes extremely valuable for both brands and consumers. Our goal, with Chtrbox.com, was to leverage technology to make the process of marketing via people (active social media users or influencers) automated, data-driven and scalable. 

How does Chtrbox operate? 
 As a technology powered influencer marketing company we not only consult brands and leverage human intelligence but also artificial intelligence. For an influencer marketing to really add value to brands, it must be backed by smart data. Our massive access to India’s top and emerging influencers, tools to help connect and track influencer performance further help our specialist servicing teams complete the loop for brands. 

How does the team discover the most relevant influencers and what
kind of research goes into finding one? 
Influencer Discovery is, say, 90 per cent automated at Chtrbox.com. This has been the game-changing process that really helps us find the best influencers for brands. What this means is that our technology at the back-end continuously uses proprietary algorithms on deep-data points to analyse all the social media content that is being churned out by influencers in India. This allows our team to find and filter out influencers specific to categories, geographies, audience demographics, content style, engagement metrics and more. Our team further uses their experience to evaluate past performance and fitment with brand values and the objective at hand and makes overall more sound and data-driven decisions. 

Is influencer marketing the new word of mouth?
Absolutely. Chatter today doesn’t happen offline alone, it thrives in the digital space. Influencers are, in other words, key-opinion-leaders or active social media users who are passionate about categories and brands. They are digital storytellers and can trigger positive word of mouth like never before. Today, consumers are also a lot smarter, they don’t trust brands blindly, they, however, trust their peers or their choice of influencers who have established themselves for their content and subject-expertise, be it in fashion, technology, beauty, travel or any other. 

What are the challenges involved in influencer marketing?
I think one of the biggest challenges that digital marketing has faced is chasing vanity-metrics that don’t really matter for brands. Unfortunately, it became more about, for example, getting #hashtags trended on Twitter or chasing ‘likes’. These metrics may look good on an internal presentation but do nothing for the brand overall. 
Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is about real people that create authentic content. It creates the required impact for brands. 
One of the other challenges in the space is standardisation. ‘How much to charge’ is a constant question for influencers, and for brands. At Chtrbox, with our technological intelligence, we have made progress in this direction by inventing ‘Social Media Value’. SMV is an average monetary price that is generated for influencers by the system based on their social media metrics. It is a recommended benchmark cost of that influencer.
 

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