Shraddha Jain spent nine years as a radio jockey, then some time working in the television industry where she learned how to sell an idea in 20 seconds. Jain, who is generally known on the Internet as aiyyoshraddha, does not have a tag. She is not a comedian. She’s not a beauty, travel, lifestyle, vlogger culture either. But she manages to do a bit of everything, and in many languages, playing a lot of characters. Jain calls herself a storyteller. Her travel videos from Pune to Paris by WhatsApp, and brands swear by her. In an exclusive discussion with Storyboard18, Jain talks about aiyyoshraddha and its creations, influencer marketing, storytelling, brand partnerships, its creator hack, and more.
Q. Every brand is now focusing on influencer marketing. Do you think influencers like you who create content for brands perform better than famous Bollywood or sports ambassadors?
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 support 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 film, edit, and deliver the entire creation to you as well. 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 the celebrities to sell your diamonds, perfumes, and pan masala. Influencers aren’t cool enough for pan masala yet, right? You need Celeb power for that sort of thing.
We bring a whole new option for brands. For certain categories such as electronics, fashion or cosmetics, I would rather listen to someone who has gained a lot of credibility in this area. Someone with expertise in technology is going to convince me to buy a phone more than seeing Aamir Khan with this phone. But if she is chappal that nobody reviews in fact, I would buy it only and only because Salman Khan is wearing it. It is therefore also specific to a category.
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.
Q. You have worked with a multitude of major brands ranging from real estate to FMCGs to BFSI. Tell us the secret behind creating such a variety of content?
I started making variety in content long before brands came to me, and that was mainly because I got bored so easily. I can’t do the same thing over and over again. Therefore, I created a Mrs. Kulkarni, a Bulbul Vidyamandir, a Rina Dalal, and family arrangements. I made sure no two characters appear consecutively on my feed. Eventually what happened was I had all of these formats that somehow appealed to different categories of brands.
For example real, real estate didn’t really know how to pick an influencer, but there was Rina Dalal and, they said, “arre Yeh toh Bohot Sahi hain ” (it’s perfect). I was probably one of the first people to create content for real estate, and it happened because I created Rina Dalal, but it wasn’t done with paid real estate partnerships in mind. I was very excited about the idea: if Sima Taparia was a real estate agent and not a matchmaker, how would it be? I went ahead and did this, 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.)
Q. Tell us about your favorite brand categories.
I love working with the kind of brand category where the product appeals to the most people because it’s easier to come up with ideas. But I am also aware that a niche brand represents a new challenge.
More than one category, I have people that I prefer to work with. The success of a collaboration depends on good communication. So if the client knows why they came to see me and it’s clear, I think the job is so much more enjoyable. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes brands have chosen me just because a certain video has gone 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.
Q. What part of the script is dictated by the client (if any)? How much control do you have over the script?
It is not at all dictated (by the customer). The best kind of partnership is when the brand comes in and tells me it’s who they are, aren’t, what they do, and what they want me to convey. Then they let me meditate on it. It gives me a big playing field. I think about the characters I could use: Mrs. Kulkarni or the family scene, or something new. Then I present my options to the brand. I usually manage to strike a balance with brands. 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.
Q. What is the best type of brand collaboration in your opinion?
You should know why you came to see me and you should 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 false expectations. I’m not good at changing 50 clothes in 30 seconds with trendy background music. You also need to work with brands that trust your intuition and experience creating content.
Some brands know the secret of a good designer so well that they still prefer not to overdo it with branding. But then there are brands that would like their brand name to be mentioned multiple times in the video. That’s when I ask brands to trust the intelligence of viewers and not patronize them. Having fun while creating content is very important. It shows in your work and also works best for brands.
Q. 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 release from it. For example, no one expected Rina Dalal besides me. The only thing that is stopping me. If I don’t have a kickass idea, I don’t want to be a rebel for the heck of it. I have to be convinced of the character I am playing in my creative work and I have to be able to do so. Don’t just create a Punjabi aunty character if you can’t remove a Punjabi aunty accent. Don’t do travel blogging when you don’t have the stamina for it. But tomorrow, if I feel like I can actually cook videos that are great and, if I can support, and can still put out a funny cooking video every week, the next thing you know is that I’ll probably endorse the cooking oil.
Q. Tell us about aiyyoshraddha and his journey outside the Instagram grid?
A lot of all the good things about my work on Instagram are because of my training on radio, where your only real estate is audio. I was trained to communicate an idea in 15-25 seconds using audio alone. The training in the structure of the content, the economy of words, the connection with people, the tone of your voice, the smiling voice that people cannot see, is all radio. So when I got the visual aid in my hand, I went a little crazy. And I also worked on television. Often times I see content on Instagram where a lot of effort has been put into the script but the editing is choppy. My editing is strong because of my television career. It also helped me get to where I am.
Many of the standards and practices I learned while working on radio or television still influence me. For example, how to get a message across without talking about sex, politics or religion. To inform and entertain without bad words.
I don’t like tracking stats and I don’t go by trending or putting up a video every week to keep the analytics straight. my creator’s hack is not to do what’s trending. The effort it takes to make it that video is no less trendy than it takes to come up with something original. Plus, I’m in no rush to get the content up and running. Nobody expects him. It is important for me to put on the content that when I think ‘Isko dekh ke Maza ayega’ (it will be fun to watch this).