There was a time when eating, shopping, attending an event, travelling and even buying a beauty product used to be an individual choice; it still is, but it’s hugely influenced by bloggers, Instagrammers, vloggers and YouTubers today.
One post headlining ‘Six Beautiful Cafes In Pune You Need To Visit Right Now’ or ‘Must try dessert’ is put up and you feel the urge to try them. That’s the power of social media and blogging in the present day.
In Pune itself, there are hundreds of bloggers and Instagrammers who are certainly changing the way we look at products, brands, food and places among other things.
Surya Sharma, a city-based blogger, Instagrammer and YouTuber, who goes by the name Foodiepreneur, has around 10300 followers on Instagram. The 23-year-old, who began by posting reviews on Zomato now blogs about food, fashion, cafes, events, etc.
Says he, “This is a new trend and it works a lot on trust. If you are a blogger, and you are promoting a specific brand/product, your friends will believe you, instead of a celebrity, who is paid handsomely to promote it. Pune is a small market, and if a youngster from a college posts a picture of a fancy dessert and manages to influence 10 out of 70 classmates, it is a good sign.”
Sharma feels that since most bloggers and Instagrammers are young, they have a great influence on people of their age group. He elaborates, “Youngsters today have a great purchasing power, which wasn’t the case in the past. If they like the post of a fancy decor of a restaurant, they can easily throw a party there.”
However, it is important to keep the target audience, their age group, purchasing power and geographical territory in mind before endorsing something. “If I promote a 5-star property and if my followers can’t afford it, then it is of no use. Whereas if I post something which can be bought for Rs 200 at a cafe, then the youngsters will visit that place,” says Sharma.
Rohan Roy is one such follower who visits cafes and restaurants in the city because of what he sees and reads on Instagram, Facebook and Zomato reviews. “I believe social media plays a huge part in how we think,” asserts Roy, 19, who is studying graphic design.
A foodie, Roy says that the visuals work for him. “Photographs of some new dish or a new cafe with a quirky decor posted by bloggers are enough to tempt me to visit the place and try out the food. The bloggers make your job easier. Without them you can’t get to know what’s happening in your city,” he adds.
Another blogger from the city, Sanika Ranade, 26, has 90,000 plus followers. She writes about food, fashion, travel and lifestyle. Ranade believes that social media has an impact on people, and not only is it powerful but also inspiring. However, she is also aware of the pitfalls of the medium. Says she, “I agree that not everything that one promotes on social media is something that they do/use themselves. But, the effect it has on people is unmistakable. I think it’s imperative for all the influencers to understand the responsibility that entails with being recognised as a “social media influencer” and, therefore, send out the right message. The fake accounts are a testament to the insane following that a social media influencer has today. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness, but let’s not misuse the liberty to be anyone you want by being an impostor. People will believe what they see, so it’s important to set an example. A good example.”
Echoing Ranade, Vibhuti Sood, a Delhi-based marketing professional, says that she isn’t influenced by this whole social media trend. “My choices have rarely been affected by what bloggers post or Instagram about. Partly, because I am from the marketing background so I know most of the reviews are paid and partly because I don’t let other dictate my taste,” says Sood.