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Sid Mewara

300 hours of videos uploaded a minute! ~5B videos watched every day with India accounting for 9.2% of total YouTube viewers, making it the second largest. This is not counting OTT and social media platforms. In this cacophony of content, the only way to get and keep eyeballs, is creating content that is different, quirky, fresh and most importantly ‘Sticks’. Of course, there are inorganic ways to reach the masses but true sustainability only comes with genuinely good content.

Food and travel are one of the most-watched categories across platforms. While it’s a large landscape, it’s also exponentially challenging to offer something that is different, non-cliched, irreverent, candid and keeps the audience hooked.

A metric over heuristic analysis approach goes a long way in sustaining brand growth. There needs to be a balance between going wild with creativity and keeping a hawk’s eye on metrics and feedback.

Relevance over reach 

Myth: Higher reach is ‘the’ critical factor in a successful show. Fact: Higher and relevant reach is critical for a successful show. Along with higher audience reach, it’s equally important to cultivate niche audience segments that resonate with your show and constantly engage with the content and hosts across platforms. Along with unique content, it is crucial to harness this stickiness with the right TG.

Cohorts could be broken down by their online behaviour: the 18-25 years of age group engage most through Instagram posts, whereas the 25+ age group engages better on YouTube. While a 25+ audience is more likely to have higher retention rates and brand loyalty, they are less likely to hit the subscription button. So, the idea is to keep motivating the target audience to subscribe to the channel by interesting Call to Actions (CTAs) blended effortlessly into the episodes.

Cohorts can be mapped from a geographical perspective too. If your target audience is spread across metros as well as provincial India, your content needs to be rolled out in a way to keep each group engaged. Similarly, Indian food shows are a hit internationally and see a considerable fan following among the Indian diaspora.

More than mass appeal, emphasis needs to be on quality first, brand-specific content strategy that is laser-focused on a sticky audience. Audience retention and content engagement should be the priority. This translates to higher brand equity through a healthy Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Life Time Value (LTV) ratio, an important metric to progress to larger platforms like OTTs.

Delivering value with versatility

Just like the diversity of the audience, there has to be variety in content too.  Especially in the food and travel segment, every aspect could strike a different chord with the audience. A glimpse into international cuisines could appeal to the aspirational group while nostalgia can be induced by delving into local food and the cultural history behind it.

In addition to the core content, ancillary content needs to be created on a regular basis that can keep the target audience engaged across social media platforms. Every show has a certain persona and audiences start relating to not only the show but also the personality traits of its hosts. The pandemic notwithstanding, viewers get to live vicariously through the hosts not just from a food and traveling experience, but also from their life experiences. 

Speaking the design language

Creating a unique voice, energy and design language is as critical to defining the brand personality. This includes several aspects such as stylised shooting, shot selections, editing styles, camera cuts, graphics, infographics, colour palettes, light treatment and the music score. The style of engagement with fans should be designed in a strict format, one that is driven by the core essence of the show. Every visual element that gets added to the brand communication needs to be well-coordinated and should match the show’s personality. It’s a gradual and diligent process. The success of these efforts is visible when followers start noticing these subtleties and express their appreciation in the interactions across platforms.

Creating a community

In today’s world of 24/7 connectivity, an active and engaged community can work wonders for building and sustaining a brand through minimum cost per acquisition (CPA). Along with social media platforms, it has been possible to reach out to a diverse audience through channels such as Reddit, Community and Discord. It's like building a virtual social circle, a cult, a community that people take pride in being a part of. They very subtly become a part of the journey we set out on, equally enjoying the highs and lows we feel along the ride.

The Big Forkers is a food and entertainment show that has been gaining popularity. The show was born out of the necessity for candid, honest and unapologetic commentary on food, restaurants and cuisines. Tired of run of the mill, sugar-coated and stereotypical food reviews, cousins Sid Mewara and Shashank Jayakumar (Shanky) decided to launch this show last year on YouTube. Sid (the intellectual one) is an Investment Banker, has been a professional chef and has travelled across the world gaining in-depth understanding and knowledge of various cuisines. Shanky (the funny one), a serial technology entrepreneur and consultant to The World Bank, balances this equation with his exceptional wit and brings in the ‘desi’ element.

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