Matchmaker Sima Taparia’s half-hearted career pivot

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Sima Taparia is a real, full-time, professional matchmaker since 2005. But her fame skyrocketed after the Netflix series, Indian Matchmaking, in 2020.

Sima is on Instagram with over 117,000 followers and this is no surprise given how popular she has become after the show. Though her presence on Twitter and Facebook is sketchy and limited, what is truly interesting is her joining LinkedIn, a professional networking platform, in August 2022.

Yes, Sima joined LinkedIn with this cryptic message.

And then followed it up with another equally cryptic message!

Finally, she announced that she is starting a new position as a ‘Mutual Fund matchmaker’!

By now it is obvious that this is a marketing campaign and not Sima’s actual LinkedIn presence.

Yes, the campaign is by Fi, a neo/digital banking app. The context for roping in Sima for the campaign was to showcase that picking mutual funds is as complex as finding a life partner. And the product pitch is that the Fi app makes picking mutual funds easy thanks to their curated mutual funds basket.

The idea, conceived and executed in-house, has an excellent creative idea to sell the ‘curated mutual funds basket’ premise, and getting Sima to front the campaign makes contextual sense too given her name’s strong association with ‘matchmaking’.

The creative idea pitches the product far beyond financial aficionados because the recognition of Sima brings a much wider range of people to become curious about Fi app and the specific feature within the app that is being highlighted.

However, what stands out as an awkward force-fit is Sima supposedly joining LinkedIn.

To be fair, her so-called LinkedIn presence makes a lot of contextual sense – LinkedIn, as a professional networking platform is perhaps more appropriate for pitching financial services and mutual funds. And getting Sima to be the face of the pitch helps stand out among other similar pitches from either people or financial service brands that may be communicating with more serious pitches.

But Fi did not simply use LinkedIn advertising to put Sima in front of us – they created a profile for her on LinkedIn!

Consider the ways in which Fi could have used LinkedIn advertising, via sponsored content. We would see a video in our timeline featuring Sima pitching herself as a mutual funds matchmaker (the same YouTube video above) and the impact would be the same. Fi could also target the sponsored post/ad on specific cohorts – people within specific professions, people with X years of work experience, and so on. They could have still done that for all I know, and I may not have seen the paid post, but what I do see is a personal profile of Sima Taparia on LinkedIn.

A personal profile of a real person on LinkedIn creates a different kind of need. Like most social media platforms, people can interact with the real person behind the profile – they can comment on the posts, send direct messages, tag them, and so on.

Obviously, when Sima announced that she is now a mutual funds matchmaker (after the teaser phase) on LinkedIn, people would discount that as a fun marketing gimmick. This they could do even with a sponsored post. But when it is a personal profile of a real person, on an interactive social media platform, the possibilities go beyond using the platform as a mere broadcast channel.

If mere broadcast was the objective, a sponsored post would have done the trick as I mentioned earlier. But we have people commenting on Sima’s posts!

After discounting the many Fi employees’ ‘Commenting for better returns’ replies, there are others with other kinds of comments too.

Why not make use of that interactivity?

For example, why not initiate an AMA (Ask Me Anything) where people ask Sima questions on mutual funds and she answers them with a nudge towards Fi wherever appropriate? Of course, this needs to be managed by Fi team on behalf of Sima and it anyway looks like that’s what was happening with the actual replies from Sima too.

Considering the way Fi utilizes a full-fledged profile on LinkedIn merely as a broadcast channel—this is not a crime, of course; just a failure of imagination—why not explore the full potential by keeping the tone light (as it is now), and activating engagements?

One argument against it could be based on how brands use brand ambassadors.

Imagine Shah Rukh Khan engaging with people on Twitter, for example, on behalf of Byju’s, a brand he is the face of. People would ask questions about online education and Shah Rukh Khan, the superstar, would respond to people? That sounds preposterous, of course.

But what’s unique about the way Fi created Sima’s profile is that,
a. it was a profile on LinkedIn, a professional networking platform, and
b. Sima announced her new ‘position’ (a job) as a ‘mutual funds matchmaker’ who “helps India’s confused millennials find their perfect mutual fund”

Shah Rukh Khan does not mention on this Twitter profile that he is now a career/education counselor. He simply gets paid to promote Byju’s.

I do understand that the framing of Sima’s profile on LinkedIn is to color the campaign with a bit more authenticity. But then why not use that figleaf of authenticity created to extend the possibilities offered by an interactive platform like LinkedIn? Why create a profile and waste the potential by merely using it to broadcast and offer largely inane replies that hardly fit the “mutual funds matchmaker” tag?

One potential reason could be that this was planned as a time-bound contract. For instance, Fi may have signed up Sima for say, August and September, shot one video, and the LinkedIn profile was simply a media vehicle to accentuate that video. That would explain why the profile has been completely dormant after promoting a couple of media mentions of the campaign.

But then… why? Why limit the potential by imagining LinkedIn as yet another media channel? Why not extend the contract after the first 2 months to a barebones version where Sima doesn’t have to post anything, but the Fi team could keep it active by sharing financial education, mutual funds gyan, interactive Q&A, and more, on Sima’s behalf?

It won’t be very different from the many folks on LinkedIn who outsource content writing for a fee!

In other words, if you have signed up Sima merely as an attention-seeking gimmick (which works wonderfully, by the way), why create her profile on LinkedIn screaming a career pivot (however clever and close it sounds to her current profession)? And if you have actually gone ahead and given Sima an additional career, why not let the ‘Sima, the mutual funds matchmaker’ facade live longer in service of the campaign on LinkedIn?

If Fi needs to keep running the video ad on TV or digital platforms they need to keep paying the platform. But to keep the profile active and relevant to the campaign, they’d need to pay far less to an external agency or an in-house team who just need to bring in interesting and relevant content and marry it with Sima’s tone.

This is where I felt that Fi merely scratched the surface with an excellent idea and wasted the larger opportunity. Of course, if they had merely advertised on LinkedIn (as against starting a profile for Sima), I wouldn’t have said the same thing, but they did create a personal profile for her!