Ashu Agrawal, India Lead of Asia Tech Journal, sat down for an exciting session of Mavericks with Ankit Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Do Your Thng. If you’re interested in the Creator Economy and influencer marketing in India, read on for some insightful tidbits.

What is the impact of the creator economy on brands? Do you think brands are getting the value they need out of influencer marketing? 

The decentralisation of content on the internet created the creator economy. There are different sides to it. 

  • One is what a creator can do for another creator. 
  • The second is what a creator can do for brands.
  • The third is the entire ecosystem that is being built right now. 

Influencer marketing, which started as brands being able to use influencers as publishing tools, is a tiny part of this ecosystem. 

Slowly, brands realised that creators were not just a publishing tool. They have a certain following because they create meaningful content, which gave rise to content creators. So, they began thinking of content creation being done on a scale—where 500 different people are creating branded content as opposed to a small agency. 

Then they started focusing more on the advocacy of products over promotion. This is where the dynamics changed. Brands started being built completely on content created by influencers. No agencies are involved. Every content requirement of theirs, from ads to billboards, is all based on creator content. 

India is expected to have 100 million creators, which is a huge number and a huge market for brands to tap into. 

What inspired you to start Do Your Thng? 

At Do Your Thng we help people make a living out of what they love doing. DYT started its journey by making three promises to anybody who is in the digital space:

  • We will help you monetize your content. We believe any content that you create and put on your social media is an asset, just like a car, a house, etc. Your content can be monetized.
  • We will help you become better creators. We have seen a rapid rise in what we call the middle layer of the creator economy. There are thousands of creators with great talent and content but who are unable to monetize their content. 

For creators like that, we brought in the DYT Academy. Through this, we aim to provide a platform where creators can help other creators learn different skills required for growth. 

  • Being a creator and earning through your content is like running a small business. There is a lack of understanding among creators about various laws in the country, filing taxes, and creating invoices. DYT addresses this by taking care of all ancillary tasks for the creators so that the creators can simply continue doing what they love. 

What do you take from the rise in the number of content creators? Do you think it started as a fad and is taking a different shape where content quality is getting better?

As humans, we have always been creative. Creating content was not explored before. But as the internet was decentralised, everybody had the power to be a creator or a publisher. The creativity in people is channelled now. I wouldn’t call the rise of creators a fad. It was an area that wasn’t explored before and is being explored now because of technology enabling us to do so.  

The influencer industry is starting to generate noise. For example, if there is one piece of advice, there are five different statements contradicting it. What do you think of this noise? 

There are two aspects to anything. The positive side is that, because of the large audience, any specific niche of content you create will have takers. There are audiences present for the smallest of niches, too.  

Now the negative side of this is the fake news going around, misrepresentation of facts, fake followers, etc. These things tend to happen in any industry. The key is to understand how to use technology to separate noise from talent. 

To do this at Do Your Thng, we have created the DYT Score, which helps us rate creators based on various parameters such as quality checks, quantity checks, engagement rate and more. 

How does technology separate the noise from the talent for brands during influencer campaigns? 

With our technology, you can clearly identify the creators who can give you authentic content. For example, if you are looking for a creator who has posted content in the past where a woman is sitting on a beach wearing red sunglasses, you will be able to find it. Plus, with our trackers, brands can measure all the metrics of a creator to find their ROI. 

How does one tackle the issue of advocating the right narrative in influencer marketing?

Technology. It can verify the content created by creators to make sure it is not offensive to anyone from multiple perspectives. For example, our algorithm considers 800 different parameters, such as viewing each content piece through the lens of racism, sexism, and so on.

With a tech platform, brands don’t have to worry about somebody uploading a nude picture, or posting abusive content. The algorithm will screen out the content. 

Are brands adopting a self-service platform for influencer marketing campaigns? Or do they still need human help? 

We’ve seen the adoption of the self-serve model happen really fast, especially amongst start-ups. There are a few brands that took to our self-serve influencer marketing platform like a duck to water. Others want us to do it on their behalf. 

But because everything is happening from the platform, even if we have to manage services for some clients, the process is still automated. The only difference is that we are doing it on their behalf. 

There is a lot of influencer content being pushed in a positive narrative because either it’s free or the creators are provided with an incentive. How do brands safeguard themselves against it? 

Yes, this is a hurdle in influencer marketing campaigns. To curb this, DYT asks brands to refrain from sending freebies to creators. We believe in letting the creators invest in the product upfront because that’s how they become your consumer and brand advocate.

The other way is more tracking. Brands can track how content performs and how the audience receives it. Look at the increase in sales happening, or site visits. When we place several checks like this, we’ll see more authentic content emerge.

What’s the business model of your influencer marketing platform?

We offer free of charge apps to creators. For brands, we are a SaaS platform where there are various subscriptions available based on how many campaigns they want to do and how many creators they want to work with.

We also have an enterprise package, customised for bigger brands and agencies. We are still in the seed stage and have not run a big campaign to raise funds yet. But we’ve had two small funding rounds where we got a great response. 

Every founder has a unique journey, and it’s not a smooth one. They have to go through their own set of learning curves. As the founder of a platform in the creator economy space, please share your learning.

One of the early pieces of advice an advisor gave me was to be supremely high on EQ. There are a lot of ups and downs throughout the day. The key is to be somewhere in the middle. For example, if you are really happy, celebrate but don’t overdo it, and if you are really sad, try to come back to normalcy and don’t be too sad.

In a startup, we are trying to build a plane while flying one, and it is very difficult to do that. Some things are not always ideal. Some things will be out of line. Some things will not happen. But what’s important is that you keep flying. Just hang in there and do your thng.

For the entire session between Ankit and Ashu, watch here.