Influencer marketing is here to stay, never mind what 40-plus marketers like me think of them — or don’t — but in recent years, things have changed beyond redemption, sorry, recognition.

Ok, sort of. Bollywood is still there but with the coming of the creator economy and video-driven content, more and more individual creators — especially women — are creating entertaining and, sometimes, meaningful content.

And that’s what I want to touch on this month — women ‘creator influencers’ in the last few years.

The OG Influencer

Miss Malini was a trailblazer in 2008, in the web days — the former Channel V content head (digital) often overshadowed the Bollywoody celebrities she blogged about.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of starry-eyed young women followed in her wake, covering Bollywood fashion, beauty, restaurant and store openings and later travel and… you guessed it, food.

Social media, of course, gave these ladies a big boost and many of them went on to create successful careers. Miss Malini, as far as I know, is more into fashion and lifestyle now, with multiple Instagram handles covering every base - Bollywood, fashion and even events. The strategy, I guess, is to be more of a well-funded corporation than a standalone influencer.

IMHO, I think that’s not a great strategy because it’s just a matter of time before netizens forget what she was here for.

The new bloods

The new brave and bold breed of social content creator influencers are not interested in getting funded, becoming corporations and fading into obscurity - not yet.

More importantly, they can look beyond:

1. Bollywood

2. Bridal showers

3. Restaurant openings

4. Exotic holidays

5. Nice clothes

They have a lot of fuel in the tank and are true influencers, not just piggybacking on lifestyles and stardust. They are original.

Here are a few of the best and brightest. I have not mentioned - nor am interested in - the number of followers. That’s not the point. The point is the bigger trend, digital anthropology if you like.

Rachana Ranade is a CA and teaches financial literacy, with the goal of becoming a stock market player. She’s been selling her video-based lessons for 10 years. They are a bit expensive, but her millions of fans - and Google - take her seriously. She reportedly earns $7,000 from YouTube alone.

The 27-year-old Prakriti Varshney (‘itisinthename’) is the first Indian female vegan to ascend the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest - and she crowd-funded her way to the top. She promotes a vegan lifestyle and what better way than proclaim it from the top of the world?

Maithili Thakur from Madhubani district, Bihar, used to sing at jagrans in Delhi till she won a couple of TV singing contests, started a YouTube channel, and became an overnight Internet sensation. She has positioned herself as Bihar’s daughter, and the EC has appointed her as a brand ambassador.

If you’re a Pahadi, you surely know who MinakshiKhati - the ‘Aipan girl’ - is. The 24-year-old from Nainital has a relatively smaller following on Insta compared to the others mentioned here, but her ceaseless promotion of the traditional Kumaoni art (Alpan) and generating employment for village artisans through social media is a unique example of the power of soc med to do good.

Anahita Dhondy is a Cordon Bleu chef and does these high-production-value videos demystifying Parsee food, with YouTube as a base platform. Her foray into Social started during the lockdown when her restaurant was shut and she had started writing a book.

Jessica Kumar is an American living in Bihar and creates these amazingly engaging ‘Learn Hindi’ lessons on her Instagram handle. She also started the ‘Invisible India’ podcast to highlight cross-cultural relationships between Westerners and Indians.

Nandita Iyer is probably the only medical doctor on my list, and an established author to boot. She specialises in nutrition and has written on nutrition, health and food for over 15 years. She comes across as no-nonsense, very articulate and very scientific - she’s a doc, told you.

Shraddha Jain better known on social media as ‘Aiyyo Shraddha’ was called a ‘comedian’ the other day, just after she met the PM. She’s also an engineer, who worked for Goldman Sachs before she quit to be a radio jockey. The reason she’s so popular is her neat, almost anthropological takes on contemporary Indian society.

So these are a few good women making waves on social media with very original content.

Moving forward, I would like to see - correction, I will see - women influencers from Tech, Architecture, Science and so on.

The old days of women (only) as lifestyle influencers are over. Almost.

Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue ad agency past. He can be found @shubhos