- In our last episode of the limited edition series The
Influencer Adda, we speak to Raj Shamani, a man who wears many hats.
- Shamani is a Digital Content Creator, Entrepreneur, Investor and Podcaster.
The series spoke about their mental health, fighting against the odds, breaking gender norms through their powerful content, associating with like-minded brands, standing out in a sea full of content creators, and much more. We have featured a bunch of creative young people, who have made internet users laugh, groove and escape from the grim reality through their content pieces.
While all of them had different stories, struggles and wins, they all shared one thing in common: consistency. These content creators have left no stone unturned in engaging regularly with their audiences.
In our last episode, we speak to Digital Content Creator, Entrepreneur, Investor and Podcaster Raj Shamani who has 1 million followers on Instagram, 146k fans on Twitter and 272k subscribers on YouTube.
He was 16 when he joined his father’s business, which traded in chemicals for soaps and detergents. As he saw his business grow, surviving various ups and downs, he decided to share his learnings with the audience. He would attend the local shows and try to inspire people with his speeches.
Slowly, he started expanding his topics and experimenting with new digital mediums. Shamani speaks to Advertising and Media Insider about his entrepreneurial journey, changes in the content marketing landscape, trends he expects to see and a lot more.
Q. Can you take us back to the day you thought of creating content?
The first time when I started creating content was just to improve my business, expand my business range. It was not about uploading on Instagram, or going viral or becoming a full-fledged content creator. I used to sell detergent and dishwashers along with my dad. Just to improve that, I started telling people how they can improve their businesses and how they can learn from the western world and improve the retail practices in India. So I started giving speeches offline. Then I realised it will be too time-consuming to give speeches offline. So why not make a video and start sharing with people on different topics. That was the first time I started creating content, and then the ‘itch’ started coming in. I asked myself, how can I make more people watch it till the end? Once I did that for a couple of months on Instagram, there was no looking back.
Q. The social media landscape has evolved a lot since then, it changes every week if not daily. So, how do you feel your content has changed with it?
At the end of the day, the basics are very clear. It's a combination of three pillars. Number one, who are you, and what's your story? What are you there to talk about? Are you going to educate people, inspire people or entertain people? How are you bringing value to their life? These are the three things that you have to think about. Number two is how can you make sure that your audience is coming and watching your content? How do you make sure that they're going off, better and not worse? And the third thing is you have to respect the platform. That's the most important thing which most people don't realise, ‘Oh, if you create great content, people are gonna come.’ No, people are not gonna come because the platform keeps changing on an everyday basis and you have to follow it.
Q. Now, with NFT, metaverse and AI, what are some of the trends that you are expecting to see in the content marketing industry?
Brands have to realise that it [branded content] has to look real and immersive. It has to connect to people. If I wear oversized T-shirts on daily basis, one day some brand tells me Raj, wear a tight t-shirt. If I wear it, people are gonna know that this is your branded product. And especially when you go to Metaverse, where people can actually see you from 3D avatars. People can see you, let's say it is Raj on some different galaxy existing. So if your Raj -- on five days, he looks similar, and on the sixth day, he is looking different people are gonna sense the bullsh*t and people are not going to buy it from the brand. So it has to go with the personality, it has to go with immersion and experience.
Q. At what point did you begin collaborating with brands on sponsored content, and can you share a bit more about your process?
So I was fortunate that I was living with my parents till the time I reached 120-150k. So I didn't take any brand. So from zero to 150K, it took me four years. After that, in 2020, I got a deal with an AdTech company. So an AdTech company offered me Rs 70,000 and they were like, why don't you promote our stuff. Till that time, I didn't understand branded content. Once I posted it, I got a lot of backlash. People were like why are you promoting this? This is such a bad brand. And then I stopped promoting again. After 300k, there were a lot of brand deals that are coming my way. But I have this concept, I'm only going to promote the brand, which I will promote even if they are not paying me.
Q. As you move forward in your journey, what would be some of your focus areas as a content creator?
Number one, I'm going to focus on building a community. So now I've been only caring about my one lakh people rather than 10-20 lakh people. Now I want my 1 lakh people to actually bring out a change in their real life; these are going to be the one lakh people who will come, form of community, do everything which we asked them to do, and then it will be my responsibility to make them financially free. You should treat them like your younger brother. Second thing I'm focusing a lot on: I have a dream of becoming a creative unicorn. I'm starting my own b2b company, own clothing line, I've started investing in a lot of startups, I'm writing my own book. So these are the different avenues and I'm gonna add up to that one big vision: because once I become the example for it, then only I can really talk about this big vision that everybody's going to be creative 10 years from now. And everybody should be creative there because there are a lot of unicorns, we're going to be built in this space.