Bling Empire's Kane Lim keeps it real: 'I don’t take jobs that I don’t identify with'

Its safe to say, the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians put Singapore and Asians on the map for many Western audiences. Riding on the coattails of the success of the show, Netflix recently launched hit reality show Bling Empire, which follows the lives of some of the real "crazy rich Asians" in Los Angeles. The show clinched top 10 in 40 over countries worldwide, and remained at the No.1 spot in Netflix Singapore over several days. Joining MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Content 360 conference, star of the hit reality show Kane Lim shared that the success of Crazy Rich Asians definitely opened doors for Asian talent and influencers in the US as it added diversity to the screen. During the early days of conceptualisation and pitching of the show to networks, many players stepped forward to show their keen interest.

Since the success of the show, Lim and several members of the cast of Bling Empire have also inked deals with influencer marketing platform Gushcloud as interest for brand collaborations come pouring in. Breaking the news first on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Lim shared that his latest project signed was with pop star Rihanna's new skincare line Fenty Skin. "I was so excited. I get approached by brands all the time, but Rihanna is so iconic, and for me it’s just full circle," Lim shared with audiences. In fact, Lim also credits his rise to fame to the pop star who followed him on Instagram eight years ago, which led to his meteoric rise in follower count. Today he has about  467k followers on his Instagram platform.

During the interview, Lim also dished the secrets to his Instagram success. Upon a closer look at his Instagram feed, one may notice that his posts aren't exactly still images, but are infract videos. Lim explains that he learnt the trick from celebrity Paris Hilton - also considered one of the OG influencers. "When your post is a video, you are tracking the number of views instead of the number of likes garnered," he said. So any view of the video will automatically draw in higher numbers, as compared to posts, which requires users actively "liking" for traction. Aesthetically, the consistency of his style is also what makes Lim's Instagram feed visually more appealing. 

Listen to the podcast here.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What advice would you have for our brand marketers to grow their Instagram following?

Lim: You want to create an experience for people you want to invite in. So for example, if I'm partnering with a hotel brand and they wanted a post from me, instead of a usual social media post, I'd suggest something that might help the brand more.

So in one instance, I told the brand I was working with: ‘Give me a chance to give away a two-night stay with your hotel to invite people into my life’. This way, instead of showing consumers a luxurious life, I’m giving them the opportunity to join me in having a luxurious time. So I think brands could also create that interactive experience, even if it is not tangible for consumers. There are many ways brands can interact with consumers such as by holding giveaways, encouraging them to comment or tag the brand, or giving out prizes.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Your rise to fame also clashed with news emerging around anti-Asian sentiment in the US. As an influencer, do you feel these sentiments will hamper your relationship with brands?

Lim: Actually I feel that brands want to partner more with Asian influencers and people right now, especially during this time. I was on the phone with LMVH and Dior, and my friend [and fellow Bling Empire star] Kevin posed a question asking what they are doing to highlight Asian representation and to show that they support the community. After a week, the brands posted a notice to say that they are all in support of the Asian community. It is a weird time we are living in, but I’m still fortunate I have this platform to talk about issues such as racism which is prevalent in Los Angeles because coming from Asia, we take racism for granted, as you don’t really see as much racism.

If you watched the show, you'd see when we were in Charleston, this was the first time I saw confederate flags. I've only read about them in history books. To see people talking about racism so openly was an eye opener for me. So I hope that being Singaporean, I can spread the message of how amazing our country is in the sense of bridging religion, culture, and community. That’s definitely a huge responsibility, so I’m blessed to have this platform to help as well.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: How far do you go in educating clients, especially western brands, on the myriad of cultures present in Asia?

Lim: I am fortunate that I don’t have to work with brands that I don’t associate myself with just because they are paying me. But educating them is a tricky thing. Obviously I will try if there is any way, but it depends on situations. I will not take a job that does not represent my core values because I pride myself in being authentic in my entire social media career. That’s because even if you are paying me, I feel that I’m not going to deliver on my part as well.

For example I get approached by a lot of alcoholic brands, and in my practice of Buddhism, drinking alcohol is not advisable. So I do not take any alcoholic brands because it just doesn’t resonate with me and my beliefs.

I don’t take jobs that I don’t identify with, or that conflicts with my values.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What is one tip you will give to content creators?

Lim: I think being authentic is super important. If it doesn't make sense, don't do it. If it's against your ethics, don't do it. That is why I think I've been pretty successful in all my collaborations and my social media presence. Even with the partnership with Rihanna and Fenty Skin, I asked them if there was a rule that I can't post anything about it. And they said no because they have followed me for a long time and they have seen how I am authentic in the things I talk about. So they didn't put a non-disclosure agreement on it, and I thought that was really humbling, because I pride myself and my work in being authentic. So yeah, I think being authentic is the main thing. 

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