Andre Borges shares the secret behind Nutshell's success and how they crossed 1 Million Instagram followers in 4 months.
In conversation with Andre Borges, Channel Head of Nutshell, Social Samosa understands the marketing strategies of the fastest-growing non-fiction infotainment channel that provides research-based stories aimed at feeding curious minds and how they leverage the demand for knowledge by building deep communities in interest categories such as history, geopolitics, personal finance, start-up culture, and sexual health and wellness.
What was the idea for launching the channel Nutshell?
Pocket Aces have dabbled in fiction with short-form fiction, long-form, gaming, food, and more. But there was one area that we thought that we could take advantage of, and bring a lot of value to, and that was non-fiction infotainment.
Nutshell was the brainchild of a couple of employees who just wanted to tinker with explainers and try to figure out what is the space and what audiences liked. And from then on, the team was formed. We researched on what the trending topics were and what other people were talking about. And eventually decided that we wanted to create content that explains a lot of complex topics, talks about unheard or unresearched stories, and then discusses everyday musings, which you know about but don't really understand why they happen.
We felt like non-fiction infotainment was a space that not many people adapted to and is potentially a huge area that we could explore. We launched Nutshell to create a different form of content, engage with our audiences and bring in new audiences in a different way.
Nutshell clocked 4x growth in 4 months; crossed 1 Million Instagram followers. How would you describe this journey?
We're still riding on that high because a lot of thought, a lot of strategies, and a lot of long nights went into discussing how we could upscale and upskill our content. The first year went for breaking into the ecosystem. By doing explainers, longer videos, and analyses, we were touching on a wide variety of topics. This also included Bollywood, current affairs, history, true crime, and a bunch of other things.
We wanted to come up with a content strategy for how we can break through the Instagram clutter. We decided that it makes sense for us to own our energy and focus on five strong categories. So eventually, we did a lot of research and narrowed it down to the history and geopolitics, behind the brand, which is basically entrepreneur startup legacy companies, sexual health and wellness, and personal finance. And the growth just started happening organically.
We started not only filling up gaps in our content strategy but also started filling up the gaps in the ecosystem itself which we felt was lacking. As for how we did it, it was a very difficult and tiring task, but from month one, as soon as we implemented our content strategy, we started seeing really quick results.
In the first month itself, we were close to doubling our followers. When we started coming up with smaller strategies within a particular category, our aim was to create a means to get people to come back to us.
So eventually, after the second month, we started seeing the audience who could tell us what kind of videos they wanted. They started communicating about what parts of the videos they liked. Instagram was the main platform that we wanted to drive engagement, but we used all our distribution levels as well as created a couple more places like Telegram and Discord to enhance the conversations about things.
What do you think went well for the channel?
We were able to gauge clearly who our audience was, and we were able to associate ourselves with it. It was not like an ideation meeting where I would say, I think this would be good, or I think this will do well, it would be an ideation meeting in which we would put ourselves as an audience members and stimulate ourselves into those communities. So when we created these categories, my producers took on each category themselves. They started reading Reddit threads and understanding facets of those systems, and that garnered a lot of traction for each content category.
What were the challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge we faced while developing this strategy was understanding how to create a successful line of content, how to create that whole value for the audience, and how to distribute our bandwidth to such a point that we could tackle different formats. We had to figure out how to become the most efficient creator within that product timeline, and that was the first very difficult step. Also, during the wave, we kind of stumbled in the sense of like we knew we had to reach an X amount of followers within a week, a month, and a quarter.
The one thing that's a big mistake that a lot of content creators make is when they create something and they think that it's the best thing. But they don't understand that the audiences are constantly evolving along with the algorithm. So audience patterns are constantly changing every few months.
We got very smart with that in the sense that if we were creating a reel, we knew that the first iteration of the reel would not be our best. We put out a reel, we started getting feedback from the audience, and we incorporated it. Later some of the audience members said this could be done better, we incorporated the feedback. And now, to a point where I can very safely say that the two or three ways that we put out our reels are the best ways that our audience appreciates them. The clearer understanding of the audience came from all the problems that we faced in the three or four months building up to us hitting a million and then in the future.
With so much variety in content, how would you describe your target audience?
Our target audience is very clear. They are very young professionals. Earlier, we used to calculate the target audience as per demographic, where they lived, what their professions were, and what was their age group, and while those are still the base metrics, the way we look at it from Pocket Aces as a whole and as Nutshell is we focus on the identities and persona of the audience more than anything. I'm not looking at a 25-year-old who's living in Bombay and works in Finance. I'm looking at a 25-year-old who lives in Bombay and works in finance but is very interested in certain kinds of documentaries. Their retail habits are certain kinds of Amazon things that they buy. They like watching videos on their phone because they watch them during their travel time.
For Nutshell, because we had a strong connection with our audience, we created a kind of assembly line where we asked the audience if it was okay if we called them up. We actually spoke to a bunch of our audience about the kinds of videos they wanted to the point of them telling us that they liked Hinglish, rather than straightforward Hindi, or English.
Please take us through your content strategy – what kind of content hooks, formats, and tones have been the most effective in communicating with the audience?
The first step of our content strategy was to isolate the genres of videos we wanted to create. So when we broke it down to these five categories of geopolitics, history, behind the brand, sexual health and wellness, and personal finance, we started going through a few trends within each category.
If we take Geopolitics as an example, when we did content in relation to or around India, and we started doing more videos about India X the world, we started seeing a lot more inclination of the audience, who also wanted information about the rest of the world. So, earlier for products, in like four months, we were only doing videos related to India and India’s relation with other countries. When we made videos on Ukraine and Russia, people started recognizing us as a geopolitics platform. People started coming to us for geopolitics news. We then started doing videos around other places like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other countries. Now we often get comments to do world geopolitical stories.
The strongest content strategy comes when you start from the baseline. If you try to create making content at level 10, you will never reach level 10. But if you start at level 1 and then mature to higher levels, that’s when you can understand the audience.
What is your objective from this platform?
Our main objective from this platform is to create an impact. We want to tell stories that people get value from. We want to create content that adds a little more value to your life because you watched our videos. Our aim with Nutshell is to get the masses to fill their curiosity void but also create an impact and add value to their lives.
How would you define your overall marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy has honestly worked organically because our content itself has been the marketing strategy. It's been flying across the board to the point where a lot of our videos have been shared by celebrities. Zoya Akhtar has commented on some of our videos, and Ayushmann Khurrana has shared some of our stories. So, basically, what has happened actually, is, that we were worried about how to get Nutshell like a brand way out there, but the content has traveled in such a way that people are now recognizing Nutshell as infotainment, nonfiction, and an explainer brand.
So that's been working very well for us. Of course, we will be stepping up our marketing game in terms of how we want to position ourselves within the market and how we want brands to notice us and believe that we are doing good content. A lot of that is in motion right now, where we will be doing some events, getting in touch with Publications, and will be doing some large-scale collaborations.
What kind of metrics do you use to measure the RoI of the platform?
One of the basic metrics that we use is engagement, which shows how well a particular piece of content has done, but I strongly believe that views and likes are part of the course. Once you're on a social media platform, if you are putting in even a mediocre piece of content, you'll get views and likes. The measure of how well the content piece did and how well it was translated is based on the audience's reaction. So even if we get 20,000 shares on a piece of content, I’d like to understand what was the emotion behind those 20,000 shares.
3 learnings from your 5+ years of prior experience as a Content Creator, Video Producer, and News Production Manager that you can share with our readers?
My first bit of content is something that I constantly tell everyone, which is not to get married to the content. A lot of times, content creators, especially young ones, and I, for sure, do this myself sometimes, where a piece of content you feel very proud about doesn't really do well in terms of the views, likes, and shares. And it demotivates you and makes you feel like maybe I'm not as good as I should be, but that's a big flaw in the content creation of 2022. The algorithm does play a big factor in how content translates online
Every loss or failure or every mere miss you have, there's always a chance to learn something. The biggest thing that I can tell people is don’t get married to the content, keep trying to create consistent content, and listen to your audience.