“I can tell a story, and the moral of that story can be your product or service”: Aiyyoshraddha
Shraddha Jain spent nine years as a radio jockey, then worked for some time in the television industry where she learned how to sell an idea in 20 seconds. Jain, who is known on the Internet as aiyyoshraddha, does not have a category tag. She is not an actress. Nor is she a beauty / travel / lifestyle / culture vlogger. But she manages to do a bit of everything and in many languages, playing many characters. Jain calls herself a storyteller. Her videos travel from Pune to Paris via Whatsapp and brands swear by her. In an exclusive conversation with Storyboard18, Jain talks about aiyyoshraddha and his creations, influencer marketing, storytelling, brand partnerships, its creator’s hack and more.
Every brand is now focusing on influencer marketing. Do you think influencers like you who create content for brands perform better than famous ambassadors from Bollywood or sports, for example, these days?
I will say that we work better in certain situations. We are not always the best option. We are an option that did not exist until now. If you don’t have the budget for a superstar to endorse your product, you will need to make a commercial without any celebs. But even to make this commercial, the production money is huge. Then you need the money to distribute it everywhere. But now there is that person who will not only bring the creative idea to you, but also draw, edit, and deliver the complete creation to you. The person also has a number of people who may like your product in the part of the world where you market that product. That’s why it’s a great option now.
But we still need celebrities to sell your diamonds, perfumes and pan masala. Influencers aren’t cool enough for pan masala yet, right? You need celebrity power for that sort of thing.
We bring a whole new option for brands. For certain categories like electronics, fashion or cosmetics, I much prefer to listen to someone who has acquired great credibility in this field. Someone with tech expertise will convince me to buy a phone more than just seeing Aamir Khan with that phone. But if it’s a chappal that nobody reviews, I would buy it only and only because Salman Khan is wearing it.
So it is also category specific.
As for me, I do not see myself as an expert in the field but as a storyteller. What I can do is tell a story, and the moral of that story can be your product or your service.
You have worked with a multitude of major brands ranging from real estate to FMCGs to BFSI. Tell us the secret to creating varied content?
I started to do variety in the content long before the marks came to me and that was mainly because I got bored so easily. So I can’t do the same thing over and over again. So I created a Mrs. Kulkarni, a Bulbul Vidyamandir, a Rina Dalal and family arrangements. It was long before brands contacted me for paid partnerships. I had created this format for myself because I didn’t want to do the same thing again. I made sure that two characters do not appear consecutively in my feed. Eventually what happened was I had all of these formats that somehow appealed to different categories of brands.
For example, real estate didn’t really know how to pick an influencer, but then there was Rina Dalal and they said “arre yeh toh bohot sahi hain“(This is perfect for us). I was probably one of the first people to create content for real estate and it happened because I created Rina Dalal, not with paid real estate partnerships. ‘mind. I was very excited about the idea – if Sima Taparia was a real estate agent and not a matchmaker how would that be? I went ahead and did that and the real estate brands were so excited that I started getting paid partnerships for it. (Sima Taparia is a TV personality and matchmaker who starred in Netflix’s popular Indian Matchmaking reality series.)
Tell us about your favorite brand categories: the ones you like to create content on?
I love working with the kind of brand category where the product is more massive. Ideas come faster for this kind of brand. But then, a very niche brand poses a whole new challenge.
More than a category, I have favorite people with whom I prefer to work. The success of a collaboration depends on good communication. So if the client knows why he came to see me and he knows why he chose me and what he wants, I think the job is so much more enjoyable.
But sometimes they don’t know why they chose me. They chose me just because a certain video went viral and they don’t know exactly how to use me. Then there is a lot of back and forth and eventually you lose your mojo.
What part of the script is dictated by the client (if any)? How much control do you have over the script?
It is not dictated at all in fact. The best kind of partnership is when the brand comes to tell me what they are, who they are not, what they do and what they want me to say. Then they kind of let me meditate on it. It gives me a great playing field. I think about who I could use – Ms. Kulkarni or the family scene or something new. Then I present my options to the brand. That’s when brands give the go-ahead, which they usually do, because I usually manage to find the right place and that’s how I create content. It does not take more than two meetings to decide on the content. One is the brief meeting, and then there is the concept discussion meeting. That’s all it takes.
What do you think is the best type of brand collaboration? And what’s the worst you’ve had to face?
You need to know why you came to see me and be 100% honest with me. Full disclosure, full clarity and trust are very important for a successful collaboration. Also, when you come to see me, you should know what my audience likes. If you don’t know my audience, you will have bad expectations from me. I’m not good at changing 50 clothes in 30 seconds with trendy background music. Also important are brands that trust your intuition and trust your experience in creating content.
Some brands know the secret of a good designer so well that they still prefer not to overdo it with branding. But there are brands that would like their brand name to be mentioned multiple times in the video. I constantly ask them to trust the intelligence of the spectator and not to associate with him.
Having fun while creating content is very important. It shows in your work and also works best for brands.
Popular influencers usually have a fixed style and are expected to stick with that style. How do you feel about this? Do you sometimes feel trapped in the image of aiyyoshraddha on social media?
I also have the power to free myself from it. For example, no one expected Rina Dalal to come out of me. The only thing stopping me is me. If I don’t have a great idea, I don’t want to be a rebel for the fun of it. I need to be convinced of the character I’m playing in my creative work and I need to be able to do it. Don’t just create a Punjabi aunt character if you can’t pull off a Punjabi aunt accent.
Don’t blog travel if you don’t have the stamina. But tomorrow, if I feel like I can actually make cooking videos that are awesome, and if I can consistently support and release a fun cooking video every week, the next thing you know is that I probably approve of it. ‘cooking oil.
What do you think of the recent guidelines introduced by ASCI for influencer marketing?
If you say it’s an ad and people are still watching and enjoying it, that says a lot about your creative abilities. It thrills me when people appreciate my paid partnerships. If you looked at my 30 second creation, laughed and enjoyed it, and in the comments you tell me it was so smart, I guess there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, this is the reason why brands should come to you. If you are deactivatable, why should a mark come to you?
Tell us about aiyyoshraddha and his journey outside the Instagram grid?
A lot of the good stuff in my Instagram work is due to my radio training. In radio, your real estate is only audio, there is no video. So I was trained to communicate an idea in 15-25 seconds using audio only. So training in content structure, economy of words, connecting with people, tone of your voice, smiling voice that people can’t see, that’s all on radio.
So when I got the visual aid in my hand, I went a little crazy.
And I also worked on television. Often times when I see content on Instagram I notice how laborious the script was, but the editing was choppy. So my editing is strong because of my television career.
My past television and radio experiences have helped me a lot to get to where I am. Like many SNP rules on TV and radio, still influence me. For example, how to get a message across without talking about sex, politics or religion. Inform and entertain without bad words or even politics and religion. I have followed these guidelines in my career before this and it helps me a lot to this day.
I don’t like to follow stats and I don’t trust ideas like one should follow trends or put up a video every week to keep the analytics correct etc. My creator’s hack is not to do what’s trending. The effort it takes to make this trending video is no less than what it takes to come up with something original. Also, I’m in no rush to put up content. Nobody expects him. It is important for me to only stream content when I think ‘isko dekh ke maza ayega‘.