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It’s quite common that a content creator and brand are not on the same page while creating branded content. Either the brand pushes the brand visibility too much or the creator isn’t able to deliver the brand’s objective in the content. 

Gone unnoticed several times, this clearly points out the lack of understanding between the creator and the brand, which can only be resolved with clarity during the briefing period on both sides. 

According to social media celebrity and digital content creator, Kusha Kapila, while the briefing calls are the most boring ones, one must spend maximum time understanding the briefs, knowing the brand deliverables and setting the right expectations from the brand on the table.  

She said, “I know long briefing calls are boring but are really important ones. Have a long conversation before. Why don’t for once we ask the brands some questions? We must ask them why have they chosen us and what appeals to them about us. Once you’ll ask those questions, the brand will understand they are working with a different kind of creator. If they have collaborated with you for your followers then design content that fetches traffic. If they have come on board for your voice, then create branded content that depicts that. Write those questions for yourself and ask the brands during the briefing calls.” 

Kapila, along with Divyang Bhardwaj, Head Of Marketing, INDmoney; Ayush Guha, Head of Business Development and Strategy, Hypp, were speaking at a session conducted by Meta for the Delhi edition of Creator Day. The session was moderated by Niharika Pande, Head, Creative, Curation and Programs at Meta. 

During the session, Kapila advised content creators to ensure full payment in advance before posting the content on social media. She said, “Get your payment in advance. I understand brands want to do 50% payment now and 50% later, which is also doable. But working with no money in the beginning and buying props, managing clothes, makeup and camera is not correct. In that sense, even time is money. Don't compromise on this front.”

Bhardwaj opined that brands must do full payments at least in the cases where the relationship is new between the creator and brand. “Once the relationship and chemistry are formed and after a few months into the billing cycle, one can get the relaxation basis of the negotiation. Although, the risk is on both sides. What if the creator takes the money and doesn’t do the campaign?” 

Therefore, Guha believes it’s important to have agencies in between to make this process easier. He commented, “We match the expectation between talent and brand by figuring out the timelines and paperwork and putting contracts in place.”

Kapila added, “ Let the agencies do the heavy lifting and all the nasty work for you. I understand, in the beginning, you want to have all the money yourself, but once the followers increase, you should hire an agency as they will have everything in place for you.”

Sharing tips for emerging content creators, Guha of Hypp said that it’s really important for content creators to understand their audience well. “Once you understand your audience well, then go all out doing things that help you acquire a new audience. Do ensure that you listen to your audience through various tools available and engage with them.”

For Bhardwaj of INDMoney, it’s essential to keep in mind the creators’ community while collaborating with them. “The brands must try to deliver the message through the content style that the creators’ community likes.”

A lot of times there is an impasse between brands and creators when it comes to negotiating how much brand integration is apt and justifies the collaboration. For Kapila, the most important talks are about negotiation on the integration and keeping the creativity side of the content intact without making it look like an ad. “How long should the integration be in the video? Should it be 10 seconds, 20 or 30 seconds. That’s my first and only fight with the brands. The whole video cannot be about buying the brand’s product. You are coming to me for my content and jokes. Creators must ensure they do not give up on the content in front of the brand. No matter how much the brand wants to change it,” she said.  

She further said that female creators are generally very intimidated in asking for a fair price from the brands. “But if you have a good manager and support system around you to tell them your worth, it really helps to open up on what you really feel and speak out to the brand.” 

Bhardwaj added, “For me, the creator's community is very important. Both creator and the brand need to co-create content that is liked by the creator's community. The adjustment needs to happen where the creator does not lose out on creativity and the brand too gets conversion out of it. The authenticity of the creator is very important. The balance between the brand and the creative content needs to come out really well. But largely, the decision depends on the creator.”

Guha seconded Bhardwaj’s thoughts and said that one must not forget that branded content is not just about making money but also about engaging with the creators’ community and building new avenues to reach out to the audience. 

Bhardwaj went on to say that for INDMoney, they always prioritise the quality of content the creator is producing over his/her reach. “For me, the quality of influencers is more important than how big they are. We work equally with emerging creators. We don’t differentiate. Also, people grow overnight. If you are part of the journey, it works in the favour of the brands in the long run.” 

While Kapila has begun with her fictional content journey on OTT and films, she announced during the event that she would never stop creating content for her social media pages. “When you are your own boss, you don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you. But when you do fiction projects for TV, movies and OTT, you wait for opportunities to come to you. Creating content myself is a ritual that will never go away from my life.”

Guha then went on to talk about how content creators are building brands and big-scale content IPs themselves. He emphasised that brands must collaborate with creators for campaigns where both work as partners and co-creators, instead of using creators as a distribution and advertising platform.