How a content creator can make or break a brand

Many surveys reveal Indians accept that they rely on the words of “influencers'' to make a lot of buying decisions. Therefore, there is a pressing need for content creators to share responsible content

Akansha Srivastava
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The impact of responsible content creators and de-influencers who provide informative, fact-based content, aiding consumers in making informed decisions is a familiar topic. However, there's another side to the world of content creation – where facts are overlooked, ethics are disregarded, and unrest is stirred, tarnishing brand reputations.

Anurag Iyer

Anurag Iyer, CEO, Big Bang Social, has observed a spectrum of approaches among content creators when it comes to research and fact-checking.

“Some diligently conduct thorough research, consulting multiple sources and experts to ensure content accuracy. These creators serve as reliable sources of information, contributing to a more informed public discourse. On the flip side, some prioritise sensationalism over accuracy, spreading misinformation. This undermines trust and can have detrimental effects on audience perceptions and decisions,” he added.

Many surveys reveal Indians accept that they rely on the words of “influencers'' to make a lot of buying decisions. Therefore, there is a pressing need for content creators to share responsible content.

Iyer said, “As more individuals turn to social media for information, creators have a responsibility to ensure that their content is well-informed and accountable. Whether discussing politics, health, finance, or spirituality, the impact of their words can be profound. Adopting a responsible approach to content creation not only educates and empowers the audience but also minimises the spread of misinformation.”

In late December 2023, a viral image titled 'Amul's Sharam naam ki cheese' prompted Amul to issue a public statement disavowing any association with it. Subsequently, it was revealed that a social media content creator had crafted it for fun using Generative AI.

In March 2023, influencers like Ankur Warikoo, Chetan Bhagat, Prafull Billore, and Raj Shamani inadvertently promoted the World Startup Convention, later exposed as a "scam".

Furthermore, startups are increasingly falling prey to paid trolls employed by unethical content creators. Brands such as Ola, EaseMyTrip, and Meesho have found themselves ensnared in fabricated content dissemination.

Gautam Madhavan

Gautam Madhavan, Founder and CEO of Mad Influence, commented, “Influencers have the creative freedom to make content on social media, which has a wide reach, their content is not only viewed by limited people but also interacts with many people with different communities. This is the sole reason why the content should be well researched and the creator must know beforehand what problem or how the creative can affect the masses in positive or negative ways.”

Vipasha Joshi

Vipasha Joshi, an independent consultant specialising in the creator economy, said, “Notably, instances of big creators like Warikoo and Ranveer Allahbadia facing backlash for promoting fraudulent events and engaging in politically divisive content underscore the accountability creators hold as spokespeople for their communities.”

Unethical content creation isn't new with the proliferated surge in e-commerce, fake product reviews. To address this, Flipkart launched 'Fake or Not' in 2020, featuring Mallika Dua.

Governments and organisations like ASCI are continuously instituting regulations to instil ethical and responsible content creation practices within India's creator ecosystem. Platforms are also adapting to support authentic creators by implementing stricter policies to detect deep fakes and AI-generated content.

Sachin Kumar

Sachin Kumar, Founder, Bottle Openers, said that having a deep understanding of the subject matter and adherence to the latest regulations is non-negotiable for influencers.

“If they are creating content that influences the masses, they must stay updated, exercise caution, and provide context to their audiences,” he commented.

Joshi said that brands too have heightened their accountability. “From embracing realness to championing quirks, brands are redefining their approach to marketing, recognising that authenticity is the new currency in the digital age,” she said.

Having said that, there is also a rise of de-influencers like Foodpharmer/Revant Himatsingka, who are leading the charge by prioritising honesty and transparency  and fostering deeper connections with their audience.

Joshi said, “Their focus on authentic content not only redefines engagement but also reconfigures the dynamics of brand-audience relationships. The evolving mindset of creators is focused on  community building and creator-preneurship.”

Creating content based on factual information proves to be highly beneficial for both the content creator and the brand alike. It not only amplifies the authenticity of the brand and its offerings but also supports the credibility of the creator.

Having said that, factual representation of brands on social media can also trouble both the brand and the creator. Madhvan explained, “For the brand an honest negative review will truly cause trouble with the consumers using the product and will influence future customers as well, also the brand will create legal problems for the creator.”

An honest review by the creator can allure other credible  brands to promote their product using them, additionally boosting their engagement and presence on social media. On the contrary, an honest review could label the creator as a restricted influencer by other brands who will pause their promotions and not place their brand identity at risk, said Madhvan.

Joshi pointed out that nowadays, creators are not just focused on brand money, but following in the footsteps of global creator-preneurs.

“Platforms are witnessing a surge in creators like Mr. Beast, Logan Paul, and Colin and Samir who recognise the pivotal role of audience trust. The fact that Feastables, Prime Drink and Creator Campus are driving success for these creators is because they understand that maintaining integrity is crucial; a single misstep could erode the trust painstakingly built over years,” she said.

Ways for content creators to promote responsible content creation

As per Kumar of Bottle Openers, fostering responsible content creation requires an understanding of government and policy regulations, community-driven initiatives, and transparent practices among creators. “Fact-checking features could be implemented on every platform to empower users to verify the information and combat misinformation,” added Kumar.

Iyer said that creators can undergo training programs or workshops on responsible content creation, emphasising accuracy and integrity.

Also, collaborations between creators and experts in various fields can ensure content is thoroughly researched and vetted before publication, shared Iyer.

Kumar further emphasised that while AI-driven content is gaining prominence, over-dependence on AI should not be there, especially with facts. 

He added, “Content creators must prioritise transparency by disclosing sources, methodologies, and potential conflicts of interest.”

Kumar believes that the rise of influencer marketing brings potential changes with impending regulations. “Influencers, accustomed to creative freedom, must now prioritise transparency, authenticity, and compliance. Many will need to review their strategies, partnerships, and messaging to align with regulatory standards. This may lead to a shift in influencer selection, promoting transparency and accountability across the industry,” he concluded.

Amul Flipkart content creators Gautam Madhavan Mallika Dua MAD Influence Ranveer Allahbadia Ankur Warikoo Big Bang Social Chetan Bhagat Prafull Billore Vipasha Joshi Raj Shamani Sachin Kumar Anurag Iyer responsible content creation Bottle Openers