Opinion: Get REAL With Your REEL Consumer

Varsha Ojha Radio City

The age-old adage goes “If Content is king, then engagement is the queen but Context is the emperor”. Amidst concerns involving the pandemic, subsequent lockdown and enhanced digital accessibility does this saying still hold true? Radio City’s Varsha Ojha writes…

India’s Media & Entertainment (M&E) industry has evolved considerably in recent years, owing to the advent of technology, easy content accessibility, and faster digital adoption. Social media is moving at a faster pace than ever, with over 4.48 billion social media users around the world in July 2021, equating to almost 57 percent of the total global population. It is quickly setting the virtual trends, however also providing a host of ‘real’ content remolded into a dynamic social media format. Striking a fine balance between trends and realistic content is key to inspiring consumers and the mantra most brands are continually adopting.

Today the digital domain is an equal part of the advertising pie and social media trends dictate the hottest content of the hour, influencing everything, right from shopping to AR (Augmented Reality). There are more than 10 million Facebook groups in existence today, and about 70% of shoppers use Instagram for product discovery. Furthermore, branded AR filters have been used more than one billion times on Instagram, since they went public and are shaping the future layout of Instagram, while usage of Facebook Live increased 26.2% YOY by Q2 of 2020 and is likely to expand further in 2021.

While digitalization has led to a more targeted approach, the overload of communication from brands has made the media user more critical of such commercial messages. It is becoming next to impossible for brands to break through the clutter and stand out among the crowd of advertisers. This has resulted in a huge gain for influencers. Many brands are leveraging the built-in trust, authenticity, influencers, and their audience with a view to influencing the purchasing decision. When an influencer or a blogger recommends a product or a brand, consumers find it real, and it helps significantly improve engagement between content creators and consumers.

Over the years, Instagram has proved to be the best performing channel among the various social media platforms. The younger age group on Instagram is more probable to purchase a product or use a service based on an Instagram influencer’s recommendation. With the growing popularity of the platform, a surge in the number of older people joining Instagram has been noticed.

Instagram has taught netizens how to dress, how to cook and present their food, where to travel, which products to use, how to set and arrange one’s décor, which movies to watch, and so on. Content can be presented in the form of posts, stories, IGTV videos, or ‘reels’ showcasing ‘real content in a new and dynamic way’. Stories are for BTS content, IGTV for the long format, live for intimate, engaging conversations, and reels for fun crisp content. Leveraging a combination of these by staying in tune with the trends, is surely helping brands to build a strong narrative that resonates with the end consumer.

Also Read: Opinion: How brands are finding their place in the COVID-19 conversations

With Reels, the video domain has seen a steady climb.  With more than 50% of Instagram’s one billion accounts using the ‘Explore’ section every month, making reel is one of the most actively consumed content in the world. It has the ability to make a song popular, use the current or hyperlocal trends to create content fostering enhanced involvement and participation. Remix on Reels which is a brand-new feature on Instagram taking the reels fad ahead, allows people to mix other people’s reels into their original reel. There has been an uptick in the number of people, celebrities, content creators, influencers from India using this feature to engage with the community and build a closer connection.

Lastly, alongside the existing platforms, we have also seen an influx of audio rooms. Platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces quickly became popular amongst the audience. Facebook too announced live audio rooms and podcasts as new features to keep up with its growing popularity. This paves the way to make public figures more accessible to the people – be it a celebrity, an expert, or an industry leader. The current times have amplified the need for personal connect which is exactly what these audio platforms provide. Both Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse are potential mediums for brands to explore in order to get traction and also interact with their live audiences in real-time. 

Brands today are using these avenues to share their stories and communication in a real, short yet entertaining, and approachable manner, which is helping transcend geographical boundaries to reach wider audiences allowing more and more people to discover the brand and its new content. Today, we are indeed witnessing a unique convergence never seen before:  well-integrated reel and real content that is together transforming the user landscape and helping us create a fresh new era for brand building and corporate communication. All we need to do is find a real connection to the consumer’s heart in the context of his reel life that would make him/ her a lifetime “subscriber” of your brand.

The piece has been authored by Varsha Ojha – Vice President and National Head, Brand & Digital Marketing and Corporate Communications at Radio City & Mid-day.