Bolo Indya has taken monetisation for creators beyond brand partnerships: Varun Saxena

After ban on TikTok in India, homegrown app Bolo Indya onboarded over 2M+ follower base of content creators from TikTok. These creators joined organically and through content creators’ referral networks. Bolo Indya is a user-generated content platform that mainly focuses on empowering every Indian with a platform where they can raise their voice, share their opinion, learnings, and experiences. The viral video app allows creators to create and share short videos in multiple regional languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, Haryanvi, Bhojpuri and Odia.

Also read:  Bolo Indya Collaborates with IIM Ahmedabad

In conversation with Adgully, Varun Saxena, Founder and CEO, Bolo Indya, speaks about the growth of Bolo Indya, advertisers’ interest in the app, their marketing strategy during the pandemic and how Bolo Indya is empowering people.

How has Bolo Indya benefited from TikTok’s exit from Indian market?

Bolo Inya has benefitted in being able to acquire more users at almost zero cost. Our monthly user base increased by over 5x post the TikTok ban, and daily user based increased by over 8x since the ban, while time spent on the app increased by over 4x.

How has the Atmanirbhar movement started by PM Narendra Modi helped you?

The movement has certainly helped. It has made people more aware and inclined towards using Made in India applications and we see a strong love among Indians to give an opportunity to Made in India apps, where they give regular feedback and are also open to giving the Indian apps the time they would need to up the product and match the experience, which Chinese applications used to give. 

How has the advertiser interest been for your platform?

It has been very encouraging. Today, we are already working with 59 brands, who are leveraging our platform for content marketing. The major reason of attraction for these brands has been our highly engaged user base. We have continuously stayed ahead of our peers when it comes to daily time spent and number of daily sessions of the users across our Android, iOS and web properties and that’s where brands are preferring to spend on us, rather than any other platform which has a higher user base but negligible user engagement numbers.

What kind of content is consumed on your platform? Is the content being censored?

We have a strong blend of entertainment and infotainment content. We have content distributed in 24 categories, with a special launch of the Bolo Talks segment on the platform. Our top 5 content categories include entertainment, talent, fashion, fitness and comedy; followed by Relationships and Product reviews.

Explicit content and porn content is always censored. In addition, we are continuously strengthening our machine learning algorithm to address culturally sensitive content too and ensure that as we move towards political season in India, such content does not go viral on the platform and is either entirely censored or put to limited visibility.

What has been your marketing strategy during these tough times?

Till a few months back, we were acquiring all our users organically and through referrals. Till date, we have not needed to spend on marketing for content creators as our proposition of enabling content creators to monetise their content on the platform has not only got us an over 85% creator retention, but also a strong word of mouth across Telegram and Whatsapp creators’ community. 

On the consumer side, we have been leveraging the content marketing of some of our top Bolo Indyans, coupled with the visibility on YouTube that has been going strong for us. YouTube will continue to remain as a major consumer acquisition channel for us in times to come.

In addition, our recently launched IPL campaign has worked wonders for us, leading us to double our daily active user base in just 5 days of its launch, with a 45% increase in the daily time spent on the app. 

With multiple upcoming short video apps, how are you differentiating from them and getting more followers on your platform?

We believe that if we are able to create a strong differentiator for content creators and have them create quality and engaging content on the platform, consumers will follow. 

Our core proposition for content creators has been the ability of the platform to empower them to transform their social capital to financial independence. We have taken the monetisation for creators beyond brand partnerships and introduced the concept of peer to peer commerce on the founding principle of passion economy, and it is already seeing some of our top content creators earning Rs 60,000-70,000 per month on the platform and this amount will only grow as the platform scales up. This is where we are emerging as a platform that allows creators to get financially independent.

Unlike our peers, we just do not get into hefty fixed monthly payouts to creators to have them stick on the platform to create content – that’s not how you can either scale your creator base, nor can you establish a strong creator loyalty to the platform. 

Loyalty can only be earned by creating a sense of belongingness to the platform among the creators and consumers, and we have been lucky to be able to build towards it with very encouraging initial results.

What are your Monthly Active Users (MAU)?

Today, we are at 65 lakh monthly active users across Android, iOS and web; with close to 27 lakh daily active users.

How is Bolo Indya providing opportunities to content creators to earn their livelihood?

Our biggest value adds for content creators, as shared earlier, are the ability of the platform to empower content creators to monetise their content. We have brought in the concept of peer to peer commerce on the lines of passion economy, which allow content creators to transform their social capital to a base which pays them to avail their services across their expertise areas. 

This opens up a new income avenue for content creators as they are not confined to limited earnings which happen through brand partnerships. 

We also empower the channels of our top content creators to directly link social commerce to their accounts and be able to earn through the same as well. 

Median income of a creator on our platform leveraging peer to peer commerce is already in the range of Rs 25,000-30,000, while the top creators are already earning in the range of Rs 60,000-70,000 per month. Some of the top categories on the platform for peer to peer commerce are Talent, Comedy, Fitness, Astrology and English learning.

What are you doing to get more traction from the regional space?

We have adopted an ABC approach, as we call it internally, to penetrate more into the regional space. We are highly valuing the non-Hindi space as we believe that the users there have much more platform stickiness and loyalty. The regional space is one of our top 2 focus areas for the next couple of quarters and we see Bolo Indya emerging as an undisputed No.1 in Tamil Telugu and Bangla at least in the next 3 months. 

We will be working very closely with people on the ground in the regional space who understand the culture and flavour more, and are not limited to just knowing to speak or to understand the language semantics.

How is Bolo Indya as a platform empowering people?

While on the creator side, we are empowering them to transform their social capital to financial independence. On the consumer side, we are empowering them to be the part of a highly engaged interest-driven community, which has their most loved format of short videos as the medium, with no barrier of language.


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