A word that has been floating around for quite a number of years — some using it with respect, some with scorn and some with pride.

I have had written about this here and as “Twitter A listers and Influencer campaigns — the dark side” quite a while back with inputs from agency and from the twitterati.

It has been quite a while since this bitching has been around on twitter —

Many people cribbing about Food Bloggers — the easiest of all to thrash; People playing contests; People going blogging for brands, so on and forth.

Now many are jealous, if I win a contest, then I am happy, otherwise I crib. If my friend hosts a beer evening and I am there, it is happening otherwise I crib.

People who loved Kingfisher started hating it when Micro Breweries came about. People who did not like to attend events, would do so if it was their interest — food, theatre, movie whatever.. People who would not attend opening of restaurants would make exceptions and attend…

The old gave way to the new…who were hungry, willing to come at a low cost, create noise and disappear. The cost was less than a hoarding and remained in the digital sphere for a longer time.

Brands outsourced to Agencies, who in turn outsourced to their friends so mostly Incest ruled. All 3 knew each other and decided to play the game ‘Mil kar khelenge aur baatenge’. People who could not participate or participated but did not win cribbed, taunted or called them out. This is very similar to India losing world cup because it was ‘Fixed’.

Amongst this it was very funny to see some Agency/Brand honchos say ‘There should be a disclaimer for paid tweets and similar crap’ whilst their agency or brand would approach people asking them to tweet but not put a disclaimer.

During this period, many continued doing their own work — take on tweeting, instagramming etc for brands without really worrying about what people thought of them. Did they manage to get great sales — Mostly not, however the engagement increased, recall increased and testing the digital platforms became easier.

In this the Brand saved some money, agencies and the person aka influencer made some money and all were happy that KRA were achieved and money was made. As far as I know, there were no deliverables about ‘Increase sales by xyz%’ or similar.

Isn’t it similar to Advertorial which is in vogue? Also when I refer to the term ‘Agencies’ it covers Advertising, PR, Social Media because the more one looks at it, the lesser the difference today.

All of this gave birth to a mushrooming business — Seminar about twitter, instagram etc where people paid Rs 2500–7500 for a day to learn how to manage such programs for client or become an influencer.

Today most agencies have a dedicated list of bloggers, twitterati etc who are willing to engage in activities, very similar to designers or creative people who remain unnamed because the agency and brand take the credit.

Yesterday Mint ‘broke’ a story about Twitter’s teen influencer and it went viral with everybody gungho about how it was a story waiting to break, and how besides Twitter, nobody else knew about it so it appealed to a larger audience — somebody share Mint vs Online reach stats for this story please.

There have been stories earlier in HT Brunch of people playing contests and making a living and others. As late as 3–4 years ago also. Tweets, Like or Dhoka

I felt nothing wrong with the Mint story, which gave one side of the story about a 17 year old boy who made enough money to buy a phone, motor cycle and was still studying. On the contrary, the slant could have been ‘Entrepreneurship before entering IIT’ given the state of the country today.

However, many on Twitter decided to go hammer and tongs or rather pretend to be holy.

How dare Mint use his name and handle? Duh! an investigative report does not carry weight if it is not there.

How dare Mint reporter not advise the minor of repercussions? Duh! He drives a motorcycle, knows how to play with twitter and make money etc etc already.

Good for Mint, now expose Agencies and Brands! Duh! The # hashtags show the brands and agencies can be guessed from there.

The apparent outcome was that, Brands and Agencies shouted at him etc which led to deletion of his account. Help! Can’t stop laughing. This is believing in the fairy godmother showering gold coins. Yes, some junior from an agency would have called and admonished him; at the same time also told him to low lie and this shall go away, maybe change your handle and continue 🙂

Now, the Blood thirsty lot which is demanding the agencies and brands name and expose also work for agencies and brands and have engaged in similar activities offline and online 🙂

Assuming, Mint does another two part expose about Agencies and Brands — would the same people who worked in Agencies and in Brands, having moved on be willing to come on record and accept? Will Mint publish the names about those brands that advertise heavily with the publishing house? Or there will be a watered down followup with small agencies or brands accepting.

Personally, I see no problem with this nexus — you either want to be a part of it and work towards it, gain your credentials and sell yourself or you don’t want to be and keep yourself away. But a constant or convenient way to be sly, crib or pretend that you never knew about this is definitely not on.

Mint writer Venkat had some specific point that I do not fully subscribe to, except the fact that it is their job to write stories, get views for the larger audience which to me seems fair, given that Panama papers also was investigated and broken, but beyond that it is the relevant authorities who are responsible.

However, I do have a problem with Mint going to Jodhpur to meet a 17 year old and make a story, whilst in any of the metros there are hordes who would have been much better and the repercussions non existent.

Going forward how will it really affect:

Brands will yawn, ho hum, continue because they pay the agency and it’s monkey off my back kinda scenario.

Agencies will play all sides, think of a couple of new ideas — let’s not hashtag this time around, or use YouTube or SnapChat to link Twitter or whatever. And use this to drive rates down so more money in the pocket.

Influencers who are genuine and not the Rs. 70 per tweet ones, don’t give a damn. The Rs. 70–100 ones are dime a dozen; just like mosquitoes, ek maaro hazaar paida hota hai.

Venkat also asked me about ‘Rate card’. Yes it exists as it should. And why not. For me personally I asked Twitter some days back — “How much should I sell my soul for”. Got an answer, unfortunately nobody has paid or is willing to pay beyond some freebies!


Disclaimer: I am rarely paid, and most of the time put a disclaimer whilst writing invite reviews. I don’t like to attend the junta meets. I would like to make money like everyone else and the rate card is above.

Written by AD
ex waiter, angadia, travel agent, dotcomer, dukaandaar, marketeer, people watcher. appreciates single malt, food, friends