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Influencers: Here’s how they can really make or break your brand

Influencers are not often the easiest people to work with. They have their own way of doing things, their own creativity, spirit and spunk. After all that’s why their followers love them.

For a brand, working with influencers can often be daunting. If a partnership with your brand works, it can get you amazing reach. If it doesn’t, things can go horribly wrong. One e-commerce player who has invested heavily in partnerships with influencers around the region is Clozette.

Speaking at day two of Marketing’s inaugural conference in Indonesia, #DMIndonesia, CM Rolly Pane, country manager of Clozette Indonesia gave a quick guide line to really working closely with influencers.

“Key opinion leaders (KOLs) and Influencers are very effective in delivering your message –if done right. Their followers look up to them,” he said.  The first step, he says is to pick the right influencer. Easy right? Not exactly.

“While the influencer might fall in your target market, it does not necessarily mean that his/her followers are also your target market,” said Pane. If his/her followers are not, it serves your brand no purpose. Other times, you might find an influencer with exactly the type of audience you might want, but he or she might not be effective in promoting your product.

“If your influencer has never spoken about products related to your industry and suddenly starts writing about your product, consumers can see through it. It doesn’t sit well with the influencer’s content,” Pane explained.

And while the number of followers matter undoubtedly, what is more important is the influencer’s ability to engage with the followers.

“Followers can be bought for as low as $600 today. It is the engagement that is more crucial. More followers does not necessarily mean a better choice,” he added.

Pane added that one vital aspect to remember when working with influencers is to remember to let them be themselves.

“Don’t tell them what to say. They are not your employees,” he advises. Crafting messages for influencers which is not authentic to their voice can cause your brand more harm than good. Instead, treat them like your partners and work closely with them to explain your product and let them experience it, before sharing it.

“Fans are not stupid. They can tell the difference between what is paid and what is natural,” he said.

Using the right KOIs and influencers also leads to localisation of content which Josephine K Chow, chief strategy advisor to head of emerging markets, ShopBack says doesn’t happen enough.

“Locals know best. Localise your model and ensure that it fits the local market. This includes everything from ensuring local hires, to adopting local dialects in marketing campaigns,” she said. This will help in creating conversations about your brand.

Distribution and reach

If you have the basics right, the next step is distribution. Pane suggests utilising all possible social channels to spread the message but to only really invest and amplify in the appropriate ones.

In keeping with the same vein of utlising social media, Kusumo Martani, CEO of Blibli said Indonesia has more the 57 million SMEs but less than 20% are really online and leverage social media. This despite the channel potentially bringing in incremental sales for brands.

“Smart brands are riding the social wave,” he said adding that SMEs, especially, need to go online if they haven’t already, simply because social is so big in Indonesia. But remember, he said: “Social media is free to use, but not free to do.”

Patrick Darcy, commercial director APAC of RadiumOne however made the case that social doesn’t mean just Facebook. Social content is all about content being shared on both consumers’ public and intimate networks.

“75% of the time online, people share more content on their intimate channels such as whatsapp, skype, SMS rather than social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and so forth,” Darcy added. Known as Dark Social, this is where marketers need to focus.

Future-ready companies

According to Danny Oei Wirianto, CMO of GDP Ventures, the company of the future is one which will figure out a way to directly interact the consumer in the digital world.

“Today 70% of Indonesian consumers are on mobile. Are you still stuck on the web?” he questioned the audience. He added before internet proliferation, content creation and distribution was far more expensive because media was largely controlled. Today companies have no excuse to not have great content and engage with consumers.

“Consumers don’t want to listen to advertisements. They want real time information and content,” he said, adding that eCommerce provides opportunity for media company to not only grab consumer attention but also wallets. Core assets of companies in the future would be its ability to access, have a relationship and the power of influence over its audience.

Google’s Renaud Besnard chimed in adding that 67% of online consumers in Indonesia use their smartphone to make a purchase, compared to 10% in the US . The medium no doubt has immense potential.

Kieran Franklin, director of solutions ASEAN of Oracle Marketing cloud added that companies need to be proactive as well as reactive and orchestrate strategies based on consumer actions and create actionable customer profiles.

“Create a culture of action driven by analysis,” he added.

Finding the right talent

Ultimately none of these would be possible without credible talent driving all of this but finding good talent is never easy.

According to Ronny Sugiadha, CMO at KASKUS Networks, universities can’t keep up with the rate of change in the industry because it is evolving so fast. However, ShopBack’s Chow and Ruwie Rahardjo, GM of Wego Indonesia  thinks that skills are something that can be taught.

“Many enter the industry without marketing degrees. Technical skills can be taught but the its the softer skills, the human skills that many lack,” Chow said.

So what does it take to make a good hire?

Passion, agreed most of our panelists. While skills can be taught, it is the spirit and will of the employees that are most needed.

Rina Loh, digital marketer, APAC of however had a different view.

“In the marketing industry, when hiring younger executives you need passion. For senior hires, you have to gauge how pragmatic they are, their approach to stakeholder management and ability to work with agency partners,” she said.

Another challenge the industry knows all too well is the issue of talent retention.

“Gen Ys get bored easily so today we find that we have to be chief fun officers and create the right culture to keep them. Transparency from day one is also needed. For new hires, you need to define their expectation and craft their journey. If you don’t, they become jaded,” said Rahardjo.



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