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Vaibhav Odhekar

In terms of volume and engagement, Indian social media influencers enjoy a remarkable degree of popularity relative to their peers in other regions. In many ways, this is an inevitable consequence of India’s social media and digital landscape. With more than 600 million internet users — and 200 million erstwhile TikTok users alone — the numbers are very much in favour of Indian influencers and businesses looking to gain an edge through influencer marketing. The market is ripe with potential. However, a few confounding factors have so far limited the impact of influencer marketing in India relative to mature markets such as North America and the EU.

Let’s take a look at some possible paths forward for the Indian influencer marketing space, identify challenges and find solutions.

The key challenge: A fragmented ecosystem

How has influencer marketing succeeded in regions with a lower social media user base than India? What’s the key to brand-influencer synergy? Organisation. Taken individually, top Indian social media influencers have massive individual subscriber bases. Streamer Carry Minati has 25.5 million subscribers on YouTube. Even in specific, targeted niche areas such as fashion, Instagram influencers like Komal Pandey have close to one million followers. These are immense numbers for individuals. However, taken by themselves, they represent a fraction of the total social media footprint in India. This is the fundamental problem: the influencer marketing space in India is deeply fragmented in terms of both audiences and platforms.

A number of influencers have limited presence on platforms outside their key areas, making cross-platform promotions difficult. Companies looking to leverage influencers tend to silo their efforts: you end up with separate TikTok campaigns, Instagram campaigns and YouTube promotions that lack coherence and a clear, unified message. How can marketers address this issue?

Bringing platforms and audiences together

Looking at influencer marketing success stories, both in the US/Europe and China, the answer lies in integration and synergy. This requires both marketers and Indian influencers to realign their thought processes with regards to their audiences. Rather than placing an emphasis on platform-specific content and promotions, influencers need to look at ways to reach India’s social media audience on the whole. For Instagram influencers, it can mean stepping out of their comfort zone in terms of content niches. For PUBG streamers, for instance, it can mean dealing with entirely new media. By focusing on their brand, not on their platform-specific success, Indian influencers can broaden their TAM to a much bigger slice of that 600 million-strong internet user base.

Indian marketers also stand to benefit from realigning their approach to influencer marketing. Current strategies often silo different platforms into distinct campaigns: resources and effort are invested in TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat as distinct silos. Influencers whose brands and target demographics might be completely different from one another are roped in together, leading to very incoherent messaging. Objectives and progress are often evaluated in terms of success on particular platforms, with less focus on total outreach. The key here is to bring those platforms and audiences together. Marketers need to work from a top-down perspective, identify overall influencer marketing objectives across platforms. There isn’t a way to accurately assess exactly how much reach particular influencers have with target audiences, beyond big picture numbers. To spread out the risk and reach a wider overall audience pool, it’s imperative for businesses to work with multiple influencers. They then need to work with a consistent range of influencers across platforms to deliver a single, coherent, and powerful message to the Indian market at large.


Relative to developed markets, the Indian influencer marketing space is still at a relatively early stage of maturity. The immense size of Indian audiences, however, introduces unique opportunities and challenges. The way forward  — both for Indian influencers and influencer marketers — is to integrate and synergise messaging across platforms and audiences, to get one powerful message out to hundreds of millions of Indian social media users.

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