Mumbai-based Chtrbox tech predicts an influencer’s real influenceVishal Krishna
With influencers now a given in most marketing budgets, Chtrbox’s algorithms help determine a person’s Social Media Value and make influencer marketing automated and cost-effective.
Brands and influencers go hand in hand. It began in the nineties when cricket players and film stars entered the cola wars and started influencing choices. But the digital world has brought to light a whole new generation of influencers. Fashion bloggers, travel enthusiasts, foodies, and mommy bloggers – they’re helping brands reach new audiences and create greater awareness. But how do you find the right social influencer, one who puts out the best content online and is part of the most interesting social conversations?
Delhi-based Chtrbox aims to solve the influencer marketing puzzle. Founded in 2016, the startup leverages technology to make influencer marketing intelligent, automated, and cost-effective for brands.
Pranay Swarup, CEO and Co-Founder of Chtrbox.com was transitioning from the acquisition of his first startup Letsintern.com, where he had leveraged college-based influencers for several brands, when he realised that there was big business for influencer marketing.
“Crowdsourced content and consumer-led brand advocacy on social media was something I had grown really passionate about. I had initially started to work on a prototype, but now I realised I should start up again,” Pranay says.
He soon met Rohit Raj, a friend, who was also thinking of using technology to scale up influencer marketing. Rohit was earlier with Glitch (acquired recently by WPP), which helped India's top brands craft their digital and content strategy. Rohit had seen first-hand the growing demand for influencers and the lack of intelligent technologies and solutions for brands and agencies.
Rohit and Swarup connected over beers and coffee, and spoke at length about the opportunity of building a technology that could help the influencer marketing landscape. They took the idea to Roshan Abbas, Managing Director of ad firm Encompass. He loved their idea and came on board as an investor with actor Gaurav Kapur. Rohit meanwhile continues to work for Glitch, a full service agency.
Chatterbox Technologies Pvt Ltd was officially established in April 2016.
In the era of hyper information where people go from smartphones and smart TVs to apps and wearables, content is everywhere. Finding a trusted voice to promote their product or service is very important for a brand. At heart, influencer marketing is nothing but people-powered marketing that helps influence buying behaviour and purchase decisions.
“Getting started wasn't all that tough. Both Rohit and I had a few clients and a strong network of brands that trusted them with finding influencers to tell their story. The tough part was fulfilling their promise and wowing influencers and brands,” Pranay says.
The first set of influencers to sign up included Roshan Abbas and Gaurav Kapur. “They helped the platform gain traction along with the brands that they brought in to work on the platform,” Pranay adds.
Research by Activate by Bloglovin revealed that 67 percent of marketers think influencer marketing campaigns “helped them reach a more targeted audience, thus leading to more impactful results”. Last year, $1 billion was spent on influencer marketing by brands on Instagram alone, and the industry is a multi-billion industry, according to eMarketer.
The Chtrbox differentiator
The tech kicked in to help Chtrbox stand out. The platform helped brands constantly analyse millions of content pieces being generated every day, with the tech classifying each data point and keyword.
The duo also began using social media tools to get influencers from all industries on their platform. Anyone can sign up with Chtrbox, and through their network on various social media forums, bring their influencing capabilities on Chtrbox to create and tell stories that can be distributed across social media.
It started off with a few thousands, but in two years, Chtrbox already has a growing base of 150,000 influencers in India, influencing 250 million social media users.
“Our goal is to be able to help brands access the top one million influential social media users in India,” Pranay says.
Apart from helping brands find influencers, Chtrbox also helps content creators and active social media users monetise their digital real estate.
Connecting the dots
To make the entire loop more intelligent, they looked at different pieces of the puzzle. One of the biggest gaps was to connect the right influencer to the right brand campaign. Other challenges while making connections were authenticity and relevance.
The fact that there wasn’t any data tracking the consolidation on pricing and influencer's "influence" was also a problem. Chtrbox used smart algorithms and Machine Learning to help brands and agencies know the real Social Media Value (SMV) of each influencer.
“We have further built powerful tools that help us track and measure the success of each influencer,” Pranay says.
Chtrbox is free for influencers and the platform has freemium features where influencers get access to brands looking for storytelling. Brands are charged 15-20 percent, through which the influencers get paid.
The company has worked with over 25 brands, including Ray-Ban, Flipkart, Whisper, Godrej, and several others.
The path ahead
Chtrbox has made revenues of Rs 6 crore, and its goals are to ready for market expansion in key global markets such as South East Asia.
“We're already building our tech to be language and geography agnostic. We're getting a high demand from brands for influencers in regional languages and international markets. We're also looking to go deeper with micro and everyday influences,” Pranay says.
V Ganapathy, CEO of Axilor Ventures, says: “Content is the future and technology measuring the influence of social media influencers is what brands want.” CB Insights lists more than 60 top companies in influencer marketing.
Companies like Takumi, TribeApp, and IndaHash are some of the startup’s competitors globally. In India, Winkl, Fromote, Blogmint, InfluenzerIndia. influencer.in, BlogAdda, TerraReach and GetEvangelized are some of the platforms operating in the same space.
But using tech to create dashboards and curating influencers is something of an opportunity as all brands want to know credibility of the influencer’s network. Here’s where Chtrbox hopes its tech will propel it ahead.