The Brand Tribe meets Sana Chikhalia, a leading travel and lifestyle influencer in the region. Sana shares her blogging journey and passion for discovering new travel destinations and connecting with various cultures.
1. Hello, What was your life journey till you ‘arrived’ as an ‘influencer’? Please share what attracted you towards blogging or ‘influencing’ through social media’?
I always enjoyed travelling, trying new restaurants and recipes. Sharing my recommendations to enhance another person's experience gave me joy and taking this forward, I started my blog which made blogging a full time business for me. I followed my hobby and never thought it would get me so far but starting it almost eight years back when the market wasn't so saturated has clearly helped me. Prior to starting my own website I was still in college and was trying to find out what I would pursue but little did I know that my passion for writing and travelling would turn into a full time profession.
2. Which have been your most memorable brand associations or campaigns? How do you go about selecting your brand associations?
Last year my favourite campaign was with Visit Finland as the experience was unlike any other place I have visited & the scenic beauty of the country captivated me in every way. This has been by far one of the best brands to work with as it was about sharing what I loved and genuinely felt what would impress others too.
I need to believe in the brand & see myself using the service or product. If I can't see value in the idea I usually don't go ahead with it.
3. In light of what is happening with tiktok, do you see blogging as a viable career option? Do you see your future in it or its only a side hustle, which will fade away in due course?
Social Media is getting bigger by each passing day & it is so important as a brand to be a part of it & have your own image. TikTok had an unfortunate fate, but there are still many social media mediums where you can make this as a full time business. It is very important to be on a few social media pages than just one. So by seeing the current trend and the popularity of leaving a social imprint I don't think it is temporary but in fact it is here to stay.
4. Your lifestyle choices inspire your followers. But many teens and youngsters are not mature enough to not get swayed by what they see on their feed. How do you try to keep a reality check amidst this picture-perfect, materialistic lure, for your fans?
I share my life on social media and things which are sponsored are clearly marked as such so that my followers don't get deceived, I have a personal connection with my followers where I do giveaways, polls, ask questions, share my experiences and even make sure they know the difference between what I genuinely like and the things which are sponsored. So that surely helps the crowd to know the real content and the ones which are an advert.
Also a couple of times I share behind the stories so they know how much time and effort goes into creating one post and it's not as easy as it looks.
5. What inspires you to consistently create new content? Brands and/or influencers who influence you personally and professionally?
Just like any other fan even I follow some great personalities on various social platforms and they inspire me to travel, be creative and follow my heart and at the same time I see what is trending in the region to get inspired and make a story or visual around it. I spend a lot of time seeing YouTube videos and reading blogs to enhance my skills consistently to keep my audience engaged so that is also one way to be inspired and follow your goal.
6. The influence of Instagram, snapchat and tiktok has grown rapidly in the last few years. And so has the number of bloggers and micro-influencers in the region. How do you maintain your uniqueness in this crowded space and stay relevant?
Building a connection with your followers is my key goal and even though the market is too saturated, if you are true to yourself and work hard enough to follow your dreams you will always attract people and maintain the uniqueness.
Follow your niche and do your best and don't worry too much about the numbers as that will come if you are good at what you do.
7. Do you manage your instagram yourself? Any tips you would like to share for maintaining an aesthetic feed and growing one’s follower base?
Yes, I maintain my social media on my own but I do know a few who have a full team to help them out. The only tip I like to share is don't be a sheep and follow the herd; do things differently so that you stand out.
8. What do you think is really the role of an influencer and how can they play this role ethically?
There is no specific role on how to be an influencer or conduct yourself, just be true to your followers and connect with them and keep them engaged as this is the ultimate role of building trust.
9. How do you see the role of influencers changing, post Covid?
Due to this pandemic we all have to find a way to adapt to the new normal and change our strategy to keep things still entertaining. Find new ways to do things and in a way which will inspire you to discover the strength within you. And the will to keep moving towards your goal, to take this situation in your stride and move on. The role remains the same just the way you execute it changes
10. Lastly What tips would you like to give to maintain sanity check in this oversaturated and over- filtered life on social media? To keep their mental health and emotional wellbeing in place?
I highly recommend taking social media breaks or detox to maintain sanity. Social media can be too draining at times and a break really helps to feel the world around us then just the visual or the reel life of someone else.