Influencer marketing campaigns have seen a steady growth and they are showing no signs of slowing down. In its State of Influence in Asia 2021, Anymind Group uncovered five emerging trends that both marketers and influencers need to take note of. The report covers 11 markets across Asia, namely Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. It says that in the past year Instagram, Facebook and Twitter saw increases in proportion to the other social media platforms, whilst YouTube still ranks highest in most-used social media platforms by influencers, when compared in proportion to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Before highlighting the trends in influencer marketing, it's worth noting that every market is different. For example in Hong Kong, about 45.67% of influencers used Instagram to run campaigns, and 30.25% used Facebook. About 21.83% of Hong Kong influencers went for YouTube, and only 2.25% chose Twitter. In Singapore, Instagram saw 34.9% of influencers and not far behind, YouTube took 37.18% of the pie as the most popular platforms used by influencers. Facebook was chosen by only 19.52% of influencers.
Twitter had the lowest proportion of only 8.4%. Malaysian influencers are also Instagram heavy raking in 28.17% of users, closely followed by YouTube at 33.06% and Facebook at 21.56% and Twitter at 7.21%. In Indonesia, YouTube took home a large chunk of the creators' hearts and time with 35.74% preferring YouTube and 29.16% for Instagram. Facebook was 26.76% and Twitter was 8.34%.
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Here are the five trends of influencer marketing that have started to emerge over the past year and will see sustained momentum in the coming year.
1. Influencers creating and launching their own brands
Across the region, influencers and content creators are launching their own brands and products driven by their expertise. For example, Japanese model and certified sleep consultant Mirai Saitou launched her sleep care brand SLEEE, consisting of a wide range of products such as sleepwear, aromatic Epsom salts, pillow mist and eye pillows.
Anymind Group said that with influencers building closer connections with their audience, followers are able to better understand the true quality of products advocated by influencers compared to just looking at a product through their devices. Additionally, there is more data around the ability of an influencer to drive follower action, including influencing purchase decisions. Influencers need to combine content for their own brands and that of brands they advocate. as followers will notice unusual changes in content or inauthenticity.
For marketers, they need to find ways to get such data and information, either by tapping on influencer marketing platforms that have this, or by building closer relationships with influencers.
2. Direct-to-consumer and eCommerce
The report said consumer behaviour shifts driven by the pandemic have accelerated trends towards direct-to-consumer (D2C) and eCommerce business models. Marketers have an even greater amount of touchpoints to manage and obtain data from, and as a result, influencer marketing also needs to adapt to include these online touchpoints by measuring clicks and conversions, compared to tracking just the number of post likes, comments and shares.
With influencers also creating their own brands and going direct-to-consumer, marketers have plenty of opportunities to not only obtain purchase insights, but also to understand what influencers are doing to drive online sales for their own products. AnyMind Group also advised that marketers need to work with influencers to find new ways to drive conversations and clicks through innovative content.
For influencers, there will be more campaign briefs in the future looking at KPIs such as conversions, installs, clicks, purchases and sign-ups, which will effectively change the way campaigns are run and content is delivered.
3. The rise of social commerce
According to the report, with social commerce, brands and influencers have an already-present channel for commerce. The entire process of discovering products, referencing reviews and making purchases can all be done without leaving a social media platform. Moreover, within social commerce, conversational commerce is another channel where users can ask questions and make purchases directly to a merchant through chat applications.
Marketers are advised to identify the goals and objectives, along with the social commerce channels that their target customers are on, which will undoubtedly have an influence on how influencer marketing campaigns are planned out and executed. On the other hand, influencers can drive users towards a brand’s social commerce channel or even offer the same through their own profiles, depending on which channels are selected. Currently, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have already made such features available in some parts of the world, and TikTok is one of the most recent platforms to join in on the fun. Chinese platforms have already made such features available for years.
4. Subscribing to expertise
Many influencers have risen to prominence by building content around their area of expertise. Increasingly, influencers are also packaging content for their followers to consume through subscriptions or on a one-time fee basis with topics including behind-the-scenes videos, e-books, recipes and online classes.
However, additional monetisation streams with a paying audience can be seen as a threat to marketers and brand collaborations. The report suggested that marketers can co-create content and subsidise access fees to gain access to a highly-engaged audience. On the other hand, the audience will know that the brand that an influencer collaborates with is one that they can truly trust. Currently, platforms such as Patreon and Twitch provide influencers with subscription services. WeChat, Twitter and YouTube offer similar services too.
5. The influx of data
With the use of technology in influencer marketing, data directly related to an influencer’s campaign is now available to marketers, along with deeper data around influencer marketing such as campaign impact on business results. Also, data around the ability of an influencer to drive purchases and user action will also be available to marketers.
Marketers now have access to how an influencer marketing campaign has impacted business results. Additionally, marketers can use an influencer’s campaign performance data to guide recommendations and bring in similar influencers for future campaigns. By tapping first-party purchase and logistics data, marketers can use this to guide influencer selection and inform campaign strategies by identifying influencers with followers in specific cities and region to run campaigns in and even how content should be created for a specific region.
As for influencers, being able to understand data will become a critical skill set in the future. This is not just limited to understanding influencer marketing campaign performance and plan improvements, but also in better understanding what drives followers and subscribers.
Moreover, understanding this data will also help influencers plan any secondary ventures, including launching their own brands or other monetisation means.
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