The Fascinating Rise of Social Media Influencers in Entertainment and Entrepreneurship

The Fascinating Rise of Social Media Influencers in Entertainment and Entrepreneurship
Shiraz Khan, Founder/Director, Spicetree Design Agency (SDA) | Rise of Influencers in Entertainment and Entrepreneurship
This article has been contributed by Shiraz Khan, Founder/Director, Spicetree Design Agency (SDA).

A report published by Kalaari Capital revealed that there are around 80 million online content creators in India, including video streamers, bloggers, influencers, and physical product creators. Of these, only 1,50,000 could monetize their offering and earn around Rs 16,000–Rs 2 lakhs per month. To establish a financial safety net, many influencers are launching their businesses or trying their hands at acting and coaching!

The creator economy has witnessed exponential growth in the past few years. Data suggests that the influencer marketing industry in India was valued at INR 900 crore in 2021 and is expected to grow to INR 2,200 crore by 2025 at a CAGR of 25 percent. From small to medium to large-scale brands, companies of all sizes invest in social media marketing and partner with leading influencers to promote their products and services. But what is driving this surge in demand?

Besides their immense talent, their creative ideas, distinct content, and unique ability to connect with their audiences have made them new-age internet icons. Though influencers initially relied on brand deals, sponsored posts, network monetization programs, and affiliate marketing, some well-established ones are stepping into new territories. On the one hand, where beauty and lifestyle creators are trying their luck in Bollywood, healthcare and fitness influencers, on the other hand, are turning to life and wellness coaching as alternate careers.

A New Approach to Personal Branding
Limited Scope Calls for Breaking Out of Comfort Zones

A New Approach to Personal Branding

Recognizing the power of their popularity, individual brand authority, and the reach of millions of followers on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, popular influencers are jumping from social media content creation to OTT platforms and the big screen. For instance, Prajakta Koli, commonly known as MostlySane, began her career as a radio jockey and eventually rose to popularity through her YouTube channel.

She earned further recognition after debuting in "Khayali Pulao," a short film highlighting gender bias. She garnered widespread critical acclaim for this performance, which helped her bag a role in the Netflix romantic drama "Mismatched," followed by a Bollywood debut in Jug Jug Jeeyo alongside top stars like Kiara Advani, Varun Dhawan, Neetu Kapoor, and Anil Kapoor.

Kusha Kapila, too, has witnessed a similar career trajectory. Despite starting with Idiva in the content team, she found her calling as a comedian, fashion influencer, and YouTuber; her strong persona and presence on social media attracted the attention of top Bollywood directors like Karan Johar. She has done everything from Netflix starrers like Ghost Stories and Masaba and Masaba to Koffee with Karan on Disney+ Hotstar and Bollywood movies Plan A and Plan B. Her journey from being an influencer to an actor serves to prove that a solid online presence, coupled with a knack for acting and the right network, can present excellent opportunities beyond one’s professional skill set.

After creating a solid audience base, many creators like Raj Shamani and Ranveer Allahbadia have launched their respective businesses and actively invested in startups. They also host podcast shows that feature top Bollywood stars, entrepreneurs, historians, environmentalists, and politicians, each with a community of millions of loyal listeners. Similarly, luxury lifestyle influencers like Shaurya Sanadhya, Simran Bhatia, Vishnu Kaushal, and Juhi Godambe have broadened their career prospects by launching clothing brands. Most of these labels and brands have found considerable success in their own right.

Limited Scope Calls for Breaking Out of Comfort Zones

With increased competition and the continual entrance of new creators in the ecosystem, not all can monetize their services effectively. The report by Kalaari Capital revealed that creators with 10,000 to 10 lakh followers earn approximately Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 2 lakhs per month. Those with more than 10 lakh followers earn between Rs. 2 lakhs and Rs. 52 lakhs monthly. Though the grass seems greener on the other side, surviving and thriving in the teeming influencer industry has not been easy for many of them.

This fear of uncertainty has forced several influencers to identify alternate opportunities where they can create value. By investing in new business ventures, these influencers-turned-entrepreneurs and actors channel their earnings and create a passive source of income for their future selves, thereby building financial security. In the near future, it will be interesting to see the state of the influencer industry amid these significant shifts and ever-evolving trends!

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