Tanya Dhar, the face and voice behind Luxury Lifestyle Blog Urban Diaries, has emerged as a prominent social media influencer since the last one and half years. She continues to work in multiple categories – fashion and lifestyle, food and gourmet, travel. More than a hundred thousand people are hooked onto her social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and that’s what makes her a desired candidate for brand advocacy.
Avik: How has your journey of becoming a social media influencer like? What were the challenges that you came across?
Tanya: “Among the many threads that stretch between two people – threads of varied sizes, thickness, hues and textures – there are those that bring happiness. And these are the threads that my blog tries to establish with my readers. It is in continuous evolution as I try to find new ways in which I can add value to their readings and bring interesting topics to their attention.
The learning curve for a blogger is almost infinite. I wake up every day with the joy of being able to do something I love, but I also wake up to the fact that today I will learn something new through my blog – sometimes, even through my readers. The journey so far has been an extremely colourful one and not a day passes by when I think to myself how blessed I am to have this platform through which I can reach out to so many people and inspire them.
Speaking of the challenges, the glittery façade of this industry often leads people to believe that influencers have an easy life with almost no work to do. But success hardly comes without effort. I am glad to be my own boss but this means that I often end up with a work schedule that is almost 24/7. There is the pressure of being the best, the need to connect effectively with my readers and create a satisfactory impact on their minds. I’ve never shied away from hard work and this blog is my labour of love.”
Avik: You are doing a fabulous job with your blog and social profiles. Could you please tell us about how you manage your blog and social profiles? How do you generate ideas and segment your content as per various channels? What goes behind the scenes? Do you have a team?
Tanya: “Influencer marketing requires some careful planning related to the choice of platforms on which you want to gain grounds. Time is of great essence, so timing your posts to ensure that the highest number of readers are able to view it is also very important. Scheduling posts in advance is also the key to effective promotion of the blog. Then, of course, there is the need of a conscious effort to ensure that I have unique content for different platforms like Facebook and Twitter which gives users who follow me on both accounts access to fresh content instead of making my account look spammy.
I also take the time to identify topics which resonate with my readers. For example, you can fuel user engagement by picking a blog post that receives a lot of page views and social shares and then invite your readers to discuss the post real time. This connection established with the readers spurs loyalty and increases the overall reputation of the blog which means that you can expect higher user engagement.
I do have a team in place.”
Avik: There’s a new social medium emerging every month. What’s been your favourite social platform till now? Why?
Tanya: “Influencers have this ability to observe the subtlest dimensions of the world with the most bizarre of lenses. In the beginning, my Facebook page had all but friends and friends of friends who liked my page and followed my posts. Eventually, my posts were able to reach out to larger audiences and I gradually began to notice a steadfast growth in my followers.
I personally find Instagram to be one of the most impactful social mediums so far. Visuals can have a deeper impact and can often speak to your audience in ways where words may fail. Then there is the quickness with which an Instagram post can be seen and reacted on. Long texts are good for avid readers and those who have the time, but we are already catering to a generation of readers who prefer crisp posts which are quick to read and respond.
Instagram, however, has emerged as one of the most competitive social platforms for influencers. The subtlety and nuance with which you relate your stories and share your experiences make your post reflect your personality in it. Your uniqueness will win you the smiles of your readers in more ways than you perceive, so be yourself – all the time.”
Avik: What do you think of the current fashion landscape of India? How much is the digital environment contributing to it?
Tanya: “Fashion is most meaningful when it conforms to the political and social aspects of society. Indian Fashion is experiencing a transformation where trends and styles are surfacing with a much-needed connection to our majestic past. Budding Indian designers are beginning to understand the rich value of our traditional craftsmanship and beginning to shape our fashion outlook in a way where age-old designs meet modern silhouettes. This has also incited a wave of social responsibility among the designers – an act which our country is in dire need of.
To arrest the eye and overwhelm an ordinary mind, fashion requires storytelling in a simple yet effective form. The story binds the people with the designs in a stronger, more intricate manner which help designers create long-lasting relationships with their patrons. Influencers step in at this stage to leverage their digital reach to provide exposure to the brand. In doing so, the brand is able to target the right customers and garner the attention it requires to increase the profitability of its project.”
Avik: Why, according to you, should people follow fashion blogs, social profiles and video channels?
Tanya: “Now that the internet has a larger reach and mobiles are no longer a thing of luxury, people find it easier to look for fashion counsel online rather than flip through the pages of a magazine. We are in the middle of a major change when it comes to fashion in the digital sense. Influencers are easily able to share their elements of interest with the readers and this brings a unified sense of fashion among people of a country, community or society. Thus Fashion Influencers have become our friends, friends whom we trust and friendly insights related to fashion are always welcome.”
Avik: How do you keep your vast pool of audience engaged?
Tanya: “Knowing your audience is utterly important for an influencer. Your posts should carry a message which will resonate with the perspective of your readers. Honest interactions build loyalty and in a world of pretence, I strongly feel that truthfulness shines brightly through and connects your readers with you with the strongest of threads. What works for me is presenting myself to my audience just the way I am.”
Avik: Influencer marketing is growing at a really fast rate in India. What do you feel about the entire practice of influencer marketing and how is it going to impact India’s fashion and lifestyle market?
Tanya: “Influencers are in the limelight today. People find it easy to follow the advice and counsel of someone who they think conforms to their sense of fashion. When an influencer has a large base of readers, more brands find them to be the right medium for showcasing their products or services.
I feel that influencer marketing is simply the beginning of what will eventually unfold itself as personal branding. When a person is able to emerge as a thought leader and has an audience which looks up to them for advice then they have the attention of the people and more so, they have a responsibility to share their honest opinion with their readers.
Brands are turning to influencers to build stronger connections with their customers by establishing direct contact and by drawing real-time feedback.”
Avik: When you are posting for a brand, how do you hit a balance between ‘what the brand wants to communicate’ and ‘what your audience want to get’ in your content?
Tanya: “I always want my audience to get high-quality output through my blog. This is why when I agree to a photo shoot I prefer that it meets the standards similar to a magazine shoot. It involves a stylist, a wardrobe assistant, hair and makeup team, photographer, set designer, and an assistant photographer. It also helps me set a high bar for myself. In addition to setting high expectations, I also go to great lengths to ensure that it comes through in the most organic form possible. My post should depict a mellifluous collaboration emanating from the needs of a brand but perfectly be describing the wants of my readers.
I look for brands which will fit into my style of writing. This helps me stay original and it ensures that my readers get the most value out of my blog. As a result, I am able to market the product in an organic and effective manner.”
Avik: Do you prefer to work with a brand on a long term relationship (continuous flow of campaigns) or on a short term (a burst of 1-2 campaigns) basis?
Tanya: “In my opinion, the most successful brand partnerships are long-term relationships.
Marketing gurus believe that the average buyer is exposed to a product seven times before they eventually decide to own it. This is why I feel that instead of choosing partners who require one-off advertising campaigns, I would rather pick brands who are interested in long-standing agreements which help us understand each other’s work more deeply and I am able to provide more value to the products that I showcase in my posts.
My blogging journey has also helped me realize that working with more brands doesn’t always mean more money. Instead, long term relationships with a few niche brands pay off better because there is the personal satisfaction of being associated with a brand for a longer duration while being able to dedicate adequate time to the brand so that you can bring higher value to every post.”
Avik: How important do you think is the role of influencer marketing agencies in this emerging landscape of influencer campaigns in India?
Tanya: “Agencies come with deep knowledge of the field. This knowledge helps them provide insightful legal and administrative advice and come up with innovative solutions to deal with the challenges related to influencer marketing. They assist brands in establishing KPIs, defining outreach and activation strategies.”
Avik: What would be your tips for budding or aspiring fashion bloggers of India?
Tanya: “The devil, inevitably, lies in the details! I believe that attention to detail is what will make your work unique, as details bear an essence of your personality and will help you gain the right set of audience. So pick your brains and let your imagination run asunder till you find your niche. Breathe life into these imaginations by starting a scrapbook where you can pin photos and pen down your aspirations. I have realized that doing this can work wonders for a project.”
Avik: Is there any message you’d want to share with your followers?
Tanya: “In this world of compulsive workaholism where leisure is often mistaken as a luxury for the opulent or an act of idleness reticent of the lazy; following your passion may sound like a far-off notion. But that is exactly what I do every day when I pen down ideas for my blogs. I began solely with the objective of fuelling my dreams with almost no expectations. Today, I am proud to have established enduring connections with people who match my wavelength.
I once received a simple yet profound piece of advice when I was told never to limit my dreams. You will find lots of people in real life who may want to bar you from achieving what you want, so stop limiting yourself and give your dreams the wings they’ve been yearning for. Fly high and fly joyfully to the destination you’ve always wanted to reach.”
With people like Tanya playing active parts in developing a mass consciousness and shaping individual opinion through blogs and social media, Indian fashion landscape is expected to witness unprecedented dynamism.
Suggested read: Rapunzel of digital India – Pallavi Chaturvedi.
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