Rise of the Creators

By Meenakshi Shivram

I was admittedly surprised when I met Anushree – she turned out to be a lot younger than I had imagined for the co-founder of a leading influencer marketing and talent management agency! Two minutes into the conversation, her confidence, passion & knowledge made it pretty clear how she made it there.

In a wonderful conversation, Anushree walks us through the rise of the creator economy, the role her company is playing in fostering it and how working capital is crucial to it all! Read on to learn more from these edited excerpts:

Meenakshi: Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey to where you are today?

Anushree: So I started my first venture when I was 19, I’m 24 right now. My first venture was back in my hometown, and it was a retail store. I understood that the retail model is not the most scalable – while I have that store up and running, it wasn’t something that satisfied me. I was still curious about what I really wanted to do. I saw social media growing, content creators growing, I would just scroll instagram for hours. It fascinated me in terms of how people could connect with each other digitally, understand their content, learn from each other or just get entertained! The space was going, and it was fascinating, and I decided I wanted to do something here: that’s how Social Tag happened! I started it when I was 22, and it’s been two years since we’ve been in the picture. We’re a team of 25 now!

Meenakshi: Wow! At such a young age, to build something like this – that’s phenomenal! With all the buzz surrounding the creator economy, can you explain to our audience what exactly is meant by “creator economy”?

Anushree: Creator economy – there’s no specific definition. Of course, you see all these platforms in place: Youtube, Instagram, Linkedin…anybody who is creating content out there, putting their content out there, building their personal brand…that loosely can be defined as creator economy. It’s a dynamic landscape marked by increased opportunities for creators, and democratisation of content creation because of these platforms with diverse voices, brands are talking to their audience through digital platforms, helping them be their authentic selves. For me I think a definition would simply be anybody who wants to put themselves out there on an online platform could be part of the creator economy.

Meenakshi: How is Social Tag different from the rest of the businesses working in this space?

Anushree: I think what sets us apart from the other agencies that are already out there…these bigger agencies that are great with making campaigns and engaging with their target audience, they weren’t so great with reels and youtube. We grew up watching social media content, grew up seeing these creators build massive distribution for themselves. I think age is one factor: we understand GenZ, we understand what it takes to create content, we understand how people resonate with these kind of content. We understand the creator’s journey, to be able to marry it with a brand’s idealogy, so it’s interesting for the audience to watch the branded content. This branded content is being leveraged by the brand in terms of having distribution. We understand the growing creator economy, because it happened as we grew up! It boils down to us helping brands with authentic collaboration to ensure both brands and creators are happy, as we prioritise transparency and delivering an ROI-driven campaign to scale the overall standards within the industry. 

Meenakshi: How do you manage cash flows when you’re essentially playing an intermediary role between these two parties? How important is working capital to you?

Anushree: Working Capital optimisation is crucial to our operations to help us adapt to new dynamics every day. We ensure strict payment terms with both brands and creators, because only once we get payments from our brands can we pay our creators. We do have processes and systems which help us ensure our working capital is in place. It is essential for the team, ensures financial stability, helps us seize on to emerging opportunities while maintaining long term success. 

Meenakshi: Have you found the big brands to usually pay on time and have reliable payment cycles?

Anushree: Brands do default on payments. Not all of them pay at the promised time, and this can be challenging. Again, here processes help & relationships help in getting the payments on time. Delayed payments can have a domino effect in convincing the creators as well, but it’s important to be transparent with them and explaining the situation to them also.

Meenakshi: How do you manage different working styles with brands and influencers?

Anushree: Just being your authentic self, and coming at this from the point of view of helping brands and creators: that’s been my recipe to build relationships with them! It should come from a point of view of helping the brand with getting the right fit of influencer and getting the word out, and from the influencer’s perspective to get them the brand collaboration and help them with monetisation of their distribution.

Meenakshi: How effective have you found influencer marketing compared to traditional marketing when it comes to ROI?

Anushree: I think influencer marketing stands out for its authenticity and ability to resonate with the audience at a broader level. Unlike traditional advertising, with influencer marketing brands leverage the credibility and personal connection that influencers have with their followers. The ROI generated with engagement and potential for virality makes influencer marketing a powerful and cost-effective strategy. If you have to make a traditional advertisement, you have to hire a screenwriter, an editor, a production set-up…and so much more. With influencer marketing, the creators themselves are your writers, editors, directors: they’re a one-man army creating those viral ads for you.That’s where the power of influencer marketing lies!

Meenakshi: If you could tell me one immediate challenge and one upcoming innovation in the creator economy, what would they be?

Anushree: I think one challenge is to find creators with non-fake, authentic followers because in the age of digitalisation, it’s so easy to buy followers for the validation. Having creators who have authentic followers and not bots is a challenge in this industry.

An interesting innovation is being able to use AI in today’s generation. There are a lot of AI influencers coming up today. A person doesn’t even have to be in front of the camera but the avatar can still talk like the creator. I’m really looking forward to what AI can do for this industry.