People find identical twins intriguing. Indian cinema has long capitalised on our innate fascination with twins to offer at least one movie about a “double role” every decade for the past century. In a world dominated by the internet, this trend has transcended the celluloid to go for the cloud.
Twinfluencers – influencers who are identical twins – are attracting millions of followers and advertiser interest in India from Loreal, PepsiCo, and Emami, among others. Advertisers say their identical appearance cannot be replicated by regular influencers, and that sets them apart.
Twinfluencers first gained traction in the US around this time last year. Since then, they have grown to form an internet community with members from France to Zimbabwe to India and Australia. On social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram, twinfluencers follow and feed off each other for ideas and inspiration. Some have their own merchandise while others have a twin-focused clothing line.
Among the prominent twinfluencers of India are Surabhi and Samriddhi Mehra, aka Chinki Minki, who have gained over 3.4 million followers on Instagram and close to 800,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel in the past year.
Much like the “double role” movies where twins — that fate separated at birth — suddenly discover each other right before the intermission, Chinki Minki also discovered fame accidentally.
“We had individual social media accounts but one day we decided to post a few pictures of us together on Instagram,” say the 20-year-old sisters from New Delhi who were born 60 seconds apart.
Soon after, TikTok India asked them to upload their twin content on the now-banned short-video-sharing platform, recalls Samriddhi, the younger of the two siblings. “Our first-ever TikTok video got 10 million views.”
Since then, Chinki Minki have been roped in by brands like Mountain Dew, Lay’s, Emami’s Navratna Cool, Maybelline and a few others for their digital campaigns.
Their success has paved the way for many more twinfluencers.
Twin brothers Manjeet and Mandeep from Pathankot in Punjab created an identity called ‘Ohi Brother’ as twinfluencers in the fashion and lifestyle space over a year ago.
With a modest yet highly engaged following of a few thousand across YouTube and Instagram, the 23-year-old duo has done over a dozen brand promotions for local apparel brands in Ludhiana. “We’ve now been approached by a US-based company for twin modelling for their brand promotion recently,” says Manjeet, the older of the twins, who have since moved to Mumbai.
The craze for twinfluencers even prompted young singers Antara and Ankita Nandy, popularly known as the Nandy Sisters, to try and look identical even though they’re not twins and were born three years apart.
“People would comment on our posts that we look like twins, so we started dressing similarly and tried to coordinate our actions while singing as people seem to find it visually appealing,” says Antara, 20, the elder sister who has collaborated with music maestro AR Rahman on a couple of projects in recent times.
What’s in it for brands?
For brands, the rationale for collaborating with twinfluencers is simple.
Twins are rare. The national average of twin births is about nine in 1,000 births. That they’re not so common makes it fascinating to watch them; even better if they can sync steps while dancing, create harmony while singing, or just have matching outfits. Brands vie for that kind of differentiating factor.
“Working with twinfluencers gives brands the advantage of co-curating content with two personalities in a single content piece, allowing for stronger storytelling and more flexibility,” says Naseeb Puri, director, Mountain Dew & Energy at PepsiCo India.
California’s Jaqi Clements, ‘momager’ to 10-year-old twinfluencers Ava and Leah, explains this with an example: “Companies can promote two outfits or two products in a single post because my girls are twins… so that’s double exposure for the company.” (Momager is a term used to refer to the mother of a famous personality who is also their manager.)
Engaging with twinfluencers is also cost-effective in that it enables wider reach as the content is sometimes also promoted on their individual pages, in addition to their account as twins, adds PepsiCo’s Puri.
Fashion and general entertainment are the easiest category-fits for twinfluencers. As the latter emerges as one of the biggest influencer categories in recent times, it also presents a huge opportunity for twinfluencers, says Aditya Gurwara, managing partner of services at Qoruz, an influencer data analytics firm.
However, most brands don’t specifically ask for twinfluencers, notes Prince Khanna, cofounder of influencer marketing firm Eleve Media.
Khanna thinks there’s a huge opportunity to engage with twinfluencers if a brand is talking about a 1+1 offer or about different aspects of one product – like Khatta Meetha…
Some brands have leveraged these aspects of twinfluencing of late.
“We found their ‘double dose’ cool quotient just right for our Cool Oil & Cool Talc and our consumers loved the ‘coolness’ of the campaign,” says an Emami spokesperson on collaborating with twinfluencers Chinki Minki for its brand Navratna Cool.
“Twinfluencing’s evolution will be something to watch out for in the near future,” adds Khanna.
While brand endorsements is a universal challenge within the influencer community, twinfluencers have a few unique challenges as well.
A lot of time and effort goes into ensuring they look identical – by wearing the same outfits, maintaining the same hairstyle, et al. Finding the exact same outfit in different sizes isn’t always a piece of cake.
“Also, if one of us gains weight, the other has to, too, and the other way around,” says Samriddhi of the Chinki Minki duo. While shooting for a branded video, the twins also need to maintain the same energy levels, something a different menstruation cycle can easily wreck. “Luckily, our cycles are synced, too,” say the Mehra sisters who are famous for speaking in chorus with each other. Some of these aspects may not be too obvious to the audience or may not seem too significant, but they make a huge difference to the content that finally goes out.
Further, where companies see double the value from twinfluencers, the twinfluencers often see half the reward. Clements explains, “When companies are paying for a single post, the only limitation I see is that I have to split that money between both the girls whereas, with a single influencer, they get to keep all of it for themself.”
Twinfluencing can also lead to an identity crisis, says Antara of the Nandy Sisters fame. “My sister and I end up sounding very similar. If we want to pursue a solo career in singing, we wonder how it’ll pan out.” Chinki Minki echo their apprehension. “We give individual auditions, too, but we haven’t got many projects as individuals yet.”
Concerns notwithstanding, these twinfluencers are focused on and having fun with creating original content together for now.
“Just the other day during a shoot, the crew had a ‘Raveena Kaun, Karishma Kaun’ moment as we were wearing the same outfits,” recount the Mehra sisters. The phrase is a reference from an iconic Hindi movie called Andaz Apna Apna whose plot also included a “double role”.
“This never gets old,” say the girls, all while laughing, in sync.