"Irfan Khan, CEO, Zefmo.
In a Q&A with MediAvataar India Irfan spilled the beans on the latest storm that has hit the digital marketing scene in India and it is certainly here to stay.
Here is the complete interaction...
MediAvataar: What does Zefmo stand for?
Irfan: Zefmo is a marketplace connecting social influencers across genres with brands of all magnitudes and variations as per the requirement. We are a technology platform that helps influencers to do what they love, experience new products and tell their stories around the brands they live and breathe while getting rewarded at the same time. Thousands of influencers and hundreds of brands rely on Zefmo to spread across their message in the digital universe.
Literally, the word ‘Zefmo’ is a fusion of Zephyr and Movement which stands for changing the course of the winds of influence - in the right direction. We are a Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India recognized technology platform and advisory consultancy startup and a ‘Made in India’ technology solution that has been custom built.
It has been co-founded by industry pioneers and leaders, and since our launch, the company has been continuously evolving to help businesses realize the potential of their most valuable asset – their brand. In a very short time frame, Zefmo has managed to build a reputation through outstanding results, quality senior consultants and bestpractice communications strategies and campaigns.
MediAvataar: Why marketers should adopt Influencer Marketing?
Irfan: Every minute, there are more than 3.8 million Google searches happening, 350,000+ tweets being sent, 65,000+ Instagram photos being uploaded, over 700,000 hours of Youtube videos being watched. The world is moving really fast and it is becoming a challenge for marketers to make their brand stand out and reach out to the right target audience to drive a meaningful conversation today.
In such a scenario, influencer marketing is seen by many marketers as one of the best ways to quickly build their brand online and create awareness among their target audience. It involves brands identifying the audience they’d like to market to and then reaching out to the leaders who have a persuasive pull on this very audience. With influencer marketing, marketers are empowered to break the clutter and connect with their audience in a meaningful way through authentic storytelling.
As per the recently released India Influence Report 2018, the survey indicates that brands are today recognizing the fact that influencers can help leverage the position of a brand’s product and increases brand recognition because of consumers leaning on the reviews and expert opinions of influencers to make their purchasing decisions. We also see a widespread adoption of influencer marketing by different brands which highlight the fact that it is becoming an integral part of the marketing mix. In fact, one of the major revelations of the India Influence Report 2018 points towards the gradual maturing of influencer marketing in India with 14 percent of the marketeers suggesting an always on-mode and 16 percent planning to integrate influencer marketing within their marketing strategy.
In an era when people no longer trust big businesses anymore, influencer marketing serves as a bridge between the big and small brands and their consumers based on a trust relationship established over a period of time. And not just this, Influencer marketing is not only the future of evolution in marketing, but it is a trend that is currently expanding at the speed of light.
MediAvataar: According to you how influencer driven campaigns garner more traction than any other?
Irfan: It has become impossible for marketers today to ignore the importance of peer reviews, recommendations or user-generated content while planning their strategy. As per a study by McKinsey, marketing inspired by word-of-mouth generated more than twice the sales of paid advertisement and had 37 per cent higher retention rate. Consumers are also no longer interested in marketing tools like advertisements and there has been market revelation that 47% of online consumers use ad blockers which are compelling brand to explore and use influencer marketing.
Consumers today are expecting and demanding for content that are entertaining and informative. And most importantly, we are in an age where consumers trust the experience of influencers, friends and family about a brand while buying it, rather than what the brand says. The consumers of today are able to make out an advert from recommendation and that has changed the whole scenario of marketing strategy.
Influencer driven campaign strategy is becoming an essential and integral part of marketing mix for brands across industries. The world is also changing rapidly and there is an increasing need for brands to instantly connect and build relationship right away, not to lose out on their visibility. This is where influencers comes in lending their credibility to the brand by endorsing their products and providing the brand awareness and exposure to its consumers. Not only this, influencers also add a whole new level of authenticity to the brand’s digital marketing that is otherwise not easily achievable. There is also another added advantage in engaging influencers in a campaign and that is the built-in authenticity in content created by them which gives brands a human face.
MediAvataar: What would be your advice to the marketers in India?
Irfan: Based on our recent survey, some advice that will help marketer in planning more impactful and effective campaigns are:
- The industry is shifting from the use of major influencers to macro (typically have over 50,000 followers) and micro (typically have over 10,000 to 50,000 followers) influencers - Marketers in India should focus in tapping micro-level and targeted audience. While it might be exciting to have a top celebrity talk about their brand, we should also remember that celebrities have extremely diverse audience who does not really care about the brand they are endorsing. Someone with following of over 50,000+ comprising of audience who look up to him/her for advice and is much more affordable, easy to work with and above all authentic is found to grab more attention
- There is a shift in the industry towards an integrated or always-on influencer marketing strategy in campaign
- Brand should not overlook the follower demographics of the influencers they are engaging. Brands were earlier fixated to demographics like age or income group of the influencers and often overlooked the most critical aspect undermining the whole goal campaign
MediAvataar: Is influencer marketing growing in India, please share some facts and figures.
Irfan: It is growing at a rapid pace. As shared with you earlier, our survey clearly indicates that this year 92% marketers are expected to launch at least one influencer campaign. The popularity of the influencer marketing to drive brand awareness and reputation can be gauged by the insight that 89% of marketers have found the medium to be effective and 62% are planning to increase their budgetary allocation towards engaging social influencers. This is massive growth for the industry.
MediAvataar: What are the challenges one should be aware of when it comes to connecting your brand’s name with an individual?
Irfan: We always insist on selecting influencers who have domain influence in the brand’s line of products or services. Above all, their content has to be original and needs to resonate naturally to make a bigger impact. This helps in building long-term, meaningful and mutually beneficial association between the individual influencers and the brands. As influencer marketing companies, we have the added responsibility to ensure the credibility on both the sides.
MediAvataar: What is your business plan and who are top influencers on board with you?
Irfan: Right from celebrities to housewives to senior citizens to students and CEOs, we identify current influencers and activate new ones for brands that participate in our campaigns. We are a marketplace connecting over 30,000 social influencers with brands of all sizes and over 25 categories, thousands of influencers and hundreds of brands rely on Zefmo to spread their message in the digital universe. In short, we work with influencers of various types for many different things. We look at the kind of value that collaborations yield for influencers and the brands.
MediAvataar: What is there in the pipeline for Zefmo this year?
Irfan: This year, we are on a hyper drive mode. Our projected growth is going to be around trebling the overall revenue of the company while adding a slew of large clients to our kitty.
MediAvataar: A global trend according to you which marketers in India should definitely adopt.
Irfan: Visual and Video Content
With photo and video sharing emerging as the fastest growing form of media, Instagram and YouTube will witness massive adoption by the influencers. In fact, in 2017, an increasing number of influencers are adopting video as a medium and have started their YouTube channel as well. This is an indication of both consumer and brand preference inline with the demand for video content.