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Authenticity over popularity: what consumers are really expecting from brands on social media in 2022

Authenticity over popularity: what consumers are really expecting from brands on social media in 2022

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This post is sponsored by Partipost.

Influencer marketing is a steadily and rapidly booming landscape – there’s no question about that. With the consistent dominance of social media over everyone’s lives over the past decade, there’s no denying the prominence of the digital space, and the opportunities in store for brands and marketers.

Over the years, a new kind of netizen has been born: the social media influencer. A decade ago, these were new terms. Today, they are official job titles, with content creators all over the globe becoming household names.

This also holds true for the Southeast Asia market, with more than 29.46 million smartphone users in Malaysia alone as of 2022, and with the Southeast Asian influencer marketing industry expected to reach $2.59 billion in worth, as Partipost’s recent study on the landscape found.

This growth has only accelerated over the past few years. As the pandemic forced communities indoors, people turned to the next best alternative to socialise: the internet and social media. As the lockdowns wore on, gradually, lifestyles transformed: workplaces went remote, hang-outs turned to Zoom meetings – and social networking sites exploded. Social media platforms both old and new expanded on an exponential scale, according to reports from Vox.

So where does this leave brands and marketers?

One thing that’s been made clear is that digitalisation has accelerated amidst the pandemic. Although the global lockdowns halted handfuls of industries such as tourism and airlines, digital-based industries only grew, with more people turning to online versions of everyday life, from eCommerce to entertainment, and everything in between. The internet is a more populated place than ever, and content creators have proliferated on every platform.

And with a new host of content creators with quickly growing followings, it’s perfectly reasonable for brands to utilise the influencer community to drive traffic and sales. And in a digital space with such a consistently high and active audience, it can be tempting to simply assume that more is more. That is, the greater an influencer’s following, the more audiences will come across your brand, which will ultimately lead to more sales.

To some extent, it is true, but we have a new player in the arena that is ready to change to the game.

The power of online communities

To look at it from consumers’ perspectives, what remains is that the internet is a highly populated place – one with thousands of brands already competing for their attention at every corner. And like any highly populated place, what really thrives in it is communities.  

There is an underlying power to communities formed on the internet. They may vary in size and platform, but one thing that’s universal is these communities are usually reactive, devoted, and highly engaged with their communities – in other words, everything you could ask for in a target audience.

So does the familiar adage of more is more still apply?

As we move into a post-pandemic and increasingly saturated digital world, it isn’t a stretch to gather that consumers are exhausted by the constant performance and advertising on their feeds. And this extends to the people they trust and look up to on social media: they no longer want to feel awed – they want to feel connected, in ways that feel genuine and human.

This also applies to the content they prefer on their feeds, with more users seeking truth and authenticity over ultra-polished, high-shine, near-perfect content. Partipost’s study also found that 66% of users found authenticity to be more valuable than quality when it comes to decision making.

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Source: Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing Industry – Partipost.

With consumers becoming more accustomed to sponsored content with every scroll, as well as PPC campaigns continuously being hindered by ad blocks, these new developments aren’t really very surprising. So as brands continuously navigate and explore various content types to find what works, one of the keys to building and sustaining connections that really matter is by leveraging on two things: relevance and authenticity.

Nano-influencers: small circles with big power

That’s also precisely why there’s a new underdog power on the rise: nano-influencers. Despite the reign of mega influencers over the past decade, reports have shown that influencers that do not strive to connect and engage with their audiences hold far less leverage over their purchase decisions at 23%.

In contrast, 60% of the same respondents found their immediate circle of friends and family to be much more trustworthy. The facts are simple: the tighter the circle, the stronger the bond – even in the online space. And this is forecast to continue into the 2020s, with 82.5% of Southeast Asian brands planning to work with nano-influencers.

At its core, the rising success of nano-influencers all comes down to one of the most basic tenets of marketing: the power of word-of-mouth, translated into the digital space. This, when coupled with nano-influencers’ tight-knit social circles, creates communities that are highly attuned and engaged, and built on trust.

And because nano-influencers aren’t much different from your average social media user, they have fewer competitions with other brands. Their content is clean, specific, and highly streamlined to their highly engaged audiences. And there are thousands of them already out there, just waiting for the right brand to partner with.

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Source: Southeast Asia Influencer Marketing Industry – Partipost

Optimising this up-and-coming community of nano-influencers hinges on a few key points:

  • Synergising official brand content with non-branded content on social media.
  • Harnessing the power of everyday people to make content that’s genuinely relatable to their social circle.
  • Leveraging technology to create an end-to-end platform for all your influencer campaigns.
  • Diversifying content types on every platform and optimising what works best for each influencer.
  • Optimising influencer strategies to target consumers at every stage in their decision-making process.

At the end of the day, the social media users you want to connect with are human, first and foremost. Whatever your marketing strategy may be, it’s no longer just popularity that always has the upper hand, but genuine, authentic, trust and connection. And as we continue moving into a post-pandemic, predominantly digital world, those are two things everyone will be in search of.

At Partipost, we make it our mission to help brands connect to the audience they need with the right influencer campaigns. As Asia’s fastest growing influencer marketing platform, we have a proven track record of helping reputable brands of every industry maximise their ROI with smart campaigns backed by tech and talent. We would love to help your brand elevate your social media presence for long-term success!

Schedule a free demo today and feel the difference that only Partipost can offer.

About Partipost

Partipost is one of Asia’s largest influencer marketing platforms that enables brands to activate everyday consumers to generate authentic and genuine content advocating for their products and services. Currently present in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines – with a more than 800,000 influencer database. We help brands access word-of-mouth advertising among social media users with an automated system that can help brands maximise their ROI at a lower cost.

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