English and Hindi content unofficially reigns on Instagram, but the niche world of regional content is no less. Here’s what it looks like!
Perhaps the best thing about social media is that it brings the world together. Sitting in your office in Dombivali, you can connect with someone in Birmingham with zero hiccups (except a bad network coverage). However, just like our daily affairs, social media, especially Instagram, seems to be dominated by hierarchies. Instagram trends from the West often make their way to India and the rest of the world.
Speaking of India itself, creating content in English is the default on Instagram. Be it fashion, cinema, poetry, sales, or whatnot, most of the content on Instagram is in English, and it caters to an urban audience. Sure, social media does not (mostly) discriminate, but people do. WhatsApp has Hindi forwards that you can find on any Indian uncle’s phone. TikTok is famous for bringing to us, content, humour, and talent from rural India. A lot of regional content can be found on Facebook too. However, Instagram seems to be dominated by urban influencers and audiences.
In such an environment, creators producing regional content stand out by serving a niche audience. The rural or local audience can find refreshing relatability in regional content. However, they also risk having limited followers as their content might not be relatable to other audiences. To be a regional content creator, you also require a lot of knowledge – not just of the language, but of the areas, people, customs and traditions, stereotypes and topics that can fuel controversies. You require a very authentic experience of a region to be a creator catering to the audience in that region. For instance, you can create Marathi content. But if you have been born and brought up in Mumbai, how authentic will your content be? A creator living anywhere else in Maharashtra will surely have an advantage over you.
However, despite all the roadblocks, regional content is spreading on Instagram. While there are still a lot of challenges, more and more regional content creators are taking up the virtual space. To understand the world of regional content on Instagram, we spoke with those who know it the best- Amulya Prabhu and Vicky Agarwal. Amulya is a content creator who creates Konkani content on her Instagram account @laughingbuddhi where she creates fun, relatable content and tries to spread happy vibes on the internet! Vicky is a businessman by profession. He’s also a content creator, standup comedian and poet. You can find his work on Instagram @baatpisakikoni and @writersaaab.
Here’s the insight that they shared.
What inspired you to create regional content?
One day randomly, Amulya received a DM from a follower saying ‘You are Konkani, na? Why don’t you make Reels in Konkani? No one (who I know) makes Konkani content.’ “I thought that’s a good suggestion. No harm in giving it a shot. So, I shot a video named ‘Only Konkani People Will Relate To This’ and it did so well! It was even shared on WhatsApp and a few Facebook pages. That is when I learnt that there’s a large Konkani audience.” Vicky, on the other hand, found very little content regarding the Marwari community that seemed relatable. “I had this urge to act and make people laugh. So, I thought why not create Marwari content on my own! And thus began my journey as a regional content creator.”
What knowledge or aspects of a region do you need to know in order to create such niche content?
Amulya feels that in order to create niche content, one must know the language very well and the little things, the inside jokes that are specific to the community. She explains, “Jeev Kadgi (fried breadfruit) is the most loved dish amongst Konkanis. So, there’s a running joke on my page where I say, “1 share of my Reel = 1 free Jeev Kadgi.” I still haven’t given it to people though. So, my followers keep asking me where is their Jeev Kadgi. They also send me pictures and tag me in posts related to Jeev Kadgi!” Vicky also echoes her sentiments when he says that in order to create niche content, one has to know at least the basics of their community. One has to understand what people are looking for and what kind of message they require from you as a creator.
What are the pros and cons of creating regional content?
For Amulya, the pros are that you receive immense love and beautiful messages from followers. She finds it beautiful when her followers tell her that they haven’t come across any other Konkani creator like her. “They feel represented and relate to the jokes that I crack,” she says. Con, for her, is that it is tricky to maintain the balance between Hindi and Konkani content. “However, my audience (touchwood) has been quite supportive. So, I haven’t faced any major issues,” she clarifies. Vicky says that a particular benefit is that people hailing from the same community really love to see videos created about them. However, a major con, he informs, is that even a single community has different dialects. “So, even though you are creating content for a particular region or community, not everyone might relate to the content you create,” he says.
What challenges do you face as regional content creators?
“When you post regional content, new or even old followers might expect you to post videos in just that one language. They might not engage with other types of content that you put out. This affects a creator who wants to grow and create multiple types of content,” says Amulya. So, she finds it crucial to maintain the balance between Hindi and Konkani content. Vicky finds it challenging to be cautious about the content that he creates. “Even if I am creating content about my own region, I can’t just speak anything that I want. The content has to be created while understanding the sensitivity of certain subjects,” he elaborates.
Do you get only limited followers because you make niche content? / Is your target audience limited in number as your content is regional and not general?
“As I previously mentioned, when you post regional content, even if you gain new followers, some followers might expect you to post only regional content always. The engagement with content about other things might suffer. So, you have to maintain the balance,” says Amulya. Vicky seems to be carefree in this regard. He says, “Honestly, I have never cared about the number of followers I get. What I care about is to give my best, be it regional or general content.”
What do you do in order to connect with other audiences who do not understand regional content?
Recalling her initial journey, Amulya says, “I primarily started my content-creating journey with Hindi content. I love making content in both Hindi and Konkani. So, I will never stop creating content in either language.” She tries to add subtitles at times in her Konkani posts so that non-Konkanis understand it too. However, putting subtitles is not always possible. So, she keeps posting Hindi content regularly. “Most of my followers are happy and supportive. They like my Konkani content even if they don’t get it fully. They comment ‘Samajh nahi aaya but language sun kar acha laga’. They even try to understand the context and like the video,” she informs. In fact, she has also received DMs where people informed her that they are learning Konkani via her Reels. That’s a plus point, isn’t that? Vicky likes to keep it simple. In order to connect with other audiences, he recreates trending Reels or he tries dubbing or recreating general videos that are in Hindi.
Please summarise your experience as a regional content creator.
“I’m actually very grateful for that one DM I received requesting me to make Konkani content because that is what actually pushed me to make Konkani videos. This is how I discovered a whole new Konkani community online,” says Amulya. Recently, when she visited Mangalore, she met many of her followers. “It was a different feeling, a good one. They told me how much they loved my Konkani videos. They even remember certain dialogues too,” she recalls. “I just want to produce more content in Hindi as well as Konkani and not stop. And yes, Jeev Kadgi ek din sabko milega!” she promises. Vicky describes his journey by saying, “I am having an amazing time creating regional content because when you create such content, people from that community feel connected and special. They feel good about who they are. That’s all I want anyway. No matter what region you belong to, you should be always proud of it.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to produce regional content?
“For me, I just went ahead and posted it without thinking too much. It worked well for me,” says Amulya. She elaborates saying that sometimes we overthink so much about content a lot that we end up never doing it. One may fear losing out on followers maybe or what if the idea tanks, etc. However, she feels that you should just begin, explore, check the response and then take a call. Your loyal audience will always stand by you and help you in your growth no matter what. “Toh bindass banao content!” is her advice. Vicky’s advice is concise but noteworthy. Before creating regional content, one should always study the region, the language, and the community and have a considerable amount of knowledge about it.
Who is your favourite regional content creator? Tell us in the comments!