With the advent of social media, having an ID on Facebook, Instagram and other sites are common today. As of 2019, there are 3.484 billion social media users who keep logging in and out of media sites, staying in an interactive group and being social in the virtual world. With the increased use of social media platforms, social media marketing is becoming a major source of livelihood amongst various individuals. Being able to influence the users with their products, these individuals are called social media influencers.  

Today social media is proving to be a huge utility in the process of sales and profits in the real world. Putting up Instagram posts about various products and blogging can prove to be effective in garnering an audience which is acting as traffic in the interaction between social media and the world outside of it. Keeping the same in mind, the Jabalpur Headstart team came up with the theme ‘Power of Influencer’s Marketing’ for its 3rd Edition of Startup Saturday. Hosted in the  Jabalpur Incubation Center it came alive on the 20th Of July, 2 Homegrown Influencers were bought on board not just to speak and address the audience but also to create a dialogue where brands, entrepreneurs and students could have a deeper understanding about how influencers function.

One of the speakers was Shubh Abbott, a food blogger, and a social media coach. The second speaker of the evening was Mashaba Majumdar, a fashion designer, and a beauty influencer. Being well versed with their tactics of social media usage and having learned them over the years by extensive work on their niche, they have been able to create the involvement of thousands of followers. Being invited to such an event was an opportunity for them to not only give back to the city they had belonged to but also share their experiences with the upcoming social media influencers. 

Beginning his journey as an engineer, Shubh Abbott has now been able to build a career out of something he loves doing, namely food-blogging. He not only shared insights on how his work is transforming most of the local restaurants which were otherwise not known but also shared his love for food in general. Shubh started with a very simple, yet grasping introduction wherein he justified his position as a social media marketer, more than a food blogger. His beginning as a blogger on Instagram back in the day was not a very hi-fi one. He mentioned that “one doesn’t need money to start; doing what one loves to do is the best start there can ever be”. Shubh loved food and trying his hands with various kinds of recipes from different places. Quoting what he recalls his very first enlightenment towards food-blogging, he said he had gone to have a chutney-sandwich somewhere on the outskirts of the city during his days in college. He loved the sandwich and decided to take a few pictures of the same, which he’d later post on his Instagram, along with a short write-up. He visited the same stall the very next day. To his surprise, the vendor had asked him as to what exactly he had been doing on the previous day while clicking pictures. He claimed that he had been approached by several customers for the sandwich, which was much more than the usual number of customers he’d get on a normal day. 

That was the day when something had clicked in his brain. He could map out the things he could be doing promoting good food around the corner. 

Starting as an individual with no one there to help him, he began clicking pictures of dishes from the places he went, wrote content about how good the food was and would set up a series of posts online. Initially, he had named his food-blog @foodyjabalpur

Soon, he started getting offers to promote the dishes from various clients, in return for being paid a handsome amount. Again, he had mentioned, money doesn’t matter. What he was able to deliver as a food-enthusiast, converting his basic minimal fee to the profits of his clients was more of a deal.

With over 21.9K Instagram followers, today Foody Jabalpur is a brand name for people wanting promotions of their cafes or restaurants and for the general public seeking reviews on burgers, pizzas and all kinds of dishes out there, to fulfil their hunger of trying the best foods available around. Shubh also did not hold back from giving inner details of his journey and the technicalities involved in using Instagram as a tool for business. He now has a 5-member team consisting of photographers, content-writers and people to schedule media posts as and when needed. 

The second speaker of the evening, Mashaba Majumdar, walked in as a young woman living her life on her own terms, a fashion designer and a beauty blogger. With sky-rocketing confidence, she wooed the audience by putting herself out as a girl coming from a simple background, who had never been photographed in the much-hyped selfie culture. The only picture she might have been in was the class photograph back in her school days.

Beginning at zero levels, having no background experience with social media marketing she was an individual who loved being creative, and yet again, different from the crowd. Getting admitted to a local college, in some time she knew this was not her call. She had to do something to get ahold of her dreams. She recalled that that was the time she had taken a break to visit family in Kolkata, and by some fortune managed to fill in the application for the fashion designing program in NIFT- Kolkata. This was when she encountered someone who had told her that she could be the face of their college campaign. And thus, the journey of being in hoardings in the town, for the face of the college, to being the model for various products and their paid partnerships began. 

Mashaba had had around a hundred followers on her Instagram profile initially. She remembered she had taken a top and her mother’s dupatta to create a style of her own. That picture garnered her 50 followers overnight. That was her calling as a fashion blogger. 

Soon she graduated as a passionate fashion designer and a creative beauty blogger, something she was now pursuing full-time. She was now receiving promotion requests from various companies and shops in India and the world, which would not only catch the attraction of the youth but henceforth increase their sales. Myntra and Pantene were just two of the many brands she had collaborated with under her name My Many Love, leading to her becoming a self-established entrepreneur and influencer with over 36K current followers on Instagram. 

She promotes “Fashion being who one is, and not stressing over what one should wear; being in one’s comfort is what matters most.”

She now owns her shop in the town wherein she gives her best on getting the best styles and products for her customers. Like Shubh, she too went on to being simple in her ways and proclaimed that ‘doing something for monetary sake should never be the goal. One should never do away with the dreams and aspirations for the sake of financial fulfilment. The job is to work on a whole new plane with the idea of giving back to society.

The speakers ended their talk with a series of Q&As which involved the active participation of the audience. This was a confirmation on how people used social media and wanted a blog of their own, wanting in into the business of influencing. 

On a bird’s eye view, social media should not be dealt with a comparison between individuals or a source of hatred. Marketing, a great way of uplifting unknown sections, is surely a way to influence today’s generation to be of some use to society. Being a cyber-zombie is not the aim, but creating good content for a life fully lived, surely is.

Contributed by:
Vasishta Chary

Volunteer- Headstart Jabalpur