Maisha loves to wear sarees, she loves to pose in them and post the photos on social media. She has gained some popularity on Instagram like many of her peers. Her friends sometimes tease her for being a 'social media celebrity'. Her impressive collection of followers and likes is proof of that fact.
Not so long ago, she came to know about an influencer marketing platform from one of her friends. After visiting the website, she realized she could monetize her Instagram fanbase by taking part in various brand campaigns. Since then, she has been involved in several brand campaigns and earned quite a sum of pocket money by herself.
The platform through which she is monetizing her social media followers by becoming a digital influencer is named HypeScout. It boasts of being the first ever of its kind in Bangladesh. Although the concept of influencer marketing is not new, until now there has been no integrated platform in Bangladesh which can seamlessly connect both the influencers and advertisers in a systematic way. In this vacuum, HypeScout has sailed their boat.
"Our goal is to create a standardized process which would make it dead easy for both influencers and brands to connect with each other and work in partnership," Faym Bappi, founder and CEO, said with regards to the start-up's role.
"It facilitates the entire process end-to-end from managing a campaign, to payment disbursement, as well as cutting the middleman like agencies," he added.
The unique selling proposition of HypeScout is that it is making the whole course of action simpler for the brands and influencers.
"Let's say, for instance, you have one thousand followers with an engagement rate of around 5 per cent per post. Then you can earn in between Tk 100-200 per post. As the number of followers and engagement ratio increases, the payment is also adjusted. If and when your fanbase crosses the fifty thousand mark, you can set the price as per your demand,"
For instance, the major complications that brands face while working with influencers are primarily finding, managing and paying them blindly. But with HypeScout, brands can do these things in an orderly and efficient manner. Its structured and standardized pricing system has enabled brands to ensure their money is well spent.
On the flip side, the influencers also face similar dilemmas, such as someone who wants to be an influencer may find it difficult to search here and there for openings. For micro-influencers, it is especially difficult to get enough attention and negotiate a meaningful deal.
The payment is calculated on two criteria: the number of followers and the number of engagements.
"Let's say, for instance, you have one thousand followers with an engagement rate of around 5 per cent per post. Then you can earn in between Tk 100-200 per post. As the number of followers and engagement ratio increases, the payment is also adjusted. If and when your fanbase crosses the fifty thousand mark, you can set the price as per your demand," Faym simplified.
As of today, brands are able to run campaigns designed for Instagram. Pretty soon they have plans to integrate Facebook and YouTube into the platform.
To become an influencer marketer, one doesn't need to be a celebrity. Influencers may not consider themselves famous in an offline setting. Anyone who has at least one thousand followers on Instagram can sign up for the shot.
A team of three lead by Faym, a fresh graduate from Daffodil University, are the mastermind behind the project.
"Like other entrepreneurs, I love to solve real-life problems. The idea of HypeScout came from one of the problems I was trying to solve," said Faym, narrating the background of his venture.
In the midst of a pandemic, while many people lost their jobs or saw their earning sources reduced, Faym wanted to do something to remedy the situation and contribute to some extent. He wanted to build something that can scale and accommodate millions of people.
"Millions of people nowadays spend a good portion of their time on various social media. If the users could earn money at the same time while using social media, it would be productive for them," Faym continued.
From his experience in working for marketing projects, he knew that businesses nowadays spend a lot on social media to promote their products and services. "That's how the idea came to my mind. I just wanted to connect people with the businesses so that they could earn money on social media."
When he started working on the idea, he found there are similar companies in the developed world who are engaged in influencer marketing. But, nobody in Bangladesh materialised the concept yet.
Faym was very enthusiastic at the very onset to implement the idea, but he immediately understood that without professional help from the individuals and companies who can guide and prepare him for the challenges that may arise in the future, he would not be successful.
With this in mind, they recently applied for an incubation program conducted by NSU. Known as "NSU Startups Next", the goal of the program was to help and build start-ups founded by NSU students and alumni.
Among all the start-ups that registered and pitched their idea for the NSU Startups Next incubation program, only eight made their way into a 3.5 months-long apprenticeship program. HypeScout has been selected as one of them.
Pathao, Lily, ErosNow, LBC Media and some other companies have already joined their platform.
"Around 50 advertisers and more than one thousand micro-level influencers have signed up. We are also trying to get on board some celebrity influencers. Various small and medium scale local shops and restaurants have also joined us," Faym said.
The marketing industry in Bangladesh has been undergoing rapid changes in recent years. For the overall growth and development of the country, much depends on entrepreneurial undertakings such as HypeScout.
Embarking on such a novel niche, Faym is hopeful that his enterprise will add some value to the market and help some people to make money. As there are a plethora of social media sites, the public attention has never been stronger. In this backdrop, the influencer marketing sector is bound to grow.