Shereen Sikka Bharwani is a Maybelline ‘It Girl’ and one of the global influencers for the make-up giant that flew her to New York to capture the zeitgeist of contemporary fashion on America’s eastern seaboard. Dove chose her for its real beauty campaign, while Jet Airways signed her on for the London Fashion Week.
The 29-year-old Bharwani is no movie star or sports celebrity, however. She is among the swelling ranks of young social media users who are creating careers leveraging platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. They are the latest campaign managers for product categories as diverse as fashion, food, fitness, beauty, or music, and are harnessing content to influence consumers.
“I started off on social media platforms as a regular consumer, but when I started blogging, I saw the potential of such social media platforms such as Instagram and thought of harvesting this opportunity for promoting my blog content that had a further outreach,“ said Bharwani, a former fashion stylist.
With more than 1 lakh followers on Instagram, Bharwani’s brand portfolio includes Audi, Jaguar, and Burberry. Social media experts say there has been a phenomenal rise in such `influencer’ accounts and channels in India over the past year.
“This paradigm shift is attributed to the wider reach and cost efficiency of micro influencers. At iGenero, we have seen a rise of 23% in the number of influencers in our data base in just the past 12 months,“ said Gupta.
Experts also pointed to an increase in demand for inuencers specialising in niche fluencers specialising in niche categories such as health and fitness, finance, businesses, comedy, and parenting. Fashion and lifestyle, of course, are staple categories.
“The main categories are fashion, beauty and food. About 5% of ove rall marketing budgets were spent on influencer marketing in 2011.Now it’s about 15%,“ said Zafar Rais, CEO of Mindshift Interactive.
Mindshift Interactive has worked with Instagram accounts like Mumbai Food Lovers and Spankiet by former food writer Ankiet Gulabani. “They do excellent work on what food is meant to be.That’s creating an interesting paradigm shift for our brands as well,“ Rais added.
Instagram and YouTube did not respond to mails seeking comments for this report.
There are about 200 key Instagram influencers that L’Oreal works with across its various brands. Their make-up artistry brand NYX was the first in the category to be launched online in India last year, and the company relied heavily on influencers for its promotion.