As budgets remain in a state of flux, and the industry continues to remain cautiously optimistic about the future, one thing that remains certain is the rise of influencer marketing and the benefits it can bring in a cost effective manner. According to data from social media marketing firm Socialbakers, today 61% of those aged between 18 to 34 say digital influencers have the ability to sway their decision making.
In fact, Socialbakers’ report “State of Influencer Marketing Report: Effects of Coronavirus” published last year found that almost 40% of all brand partnerships through 2019 and 2020 were with micro influencers with a following size of 10,000 to 50,000. At the other end of the spectrum, celebrity influencers were involved in the least amount of brand partnerships, at less than 3%.
As social selling and eCommerce grows in prominence, today, many retailers are now racing to create an online buying journey for their consumers. With the online space increasingly getting cluttered, brands are looking for ways to get the attention of their target audience.
As such, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has partnered with Adobe and Socialbakers throughout the “Micro moments matter series” to hear from micro influencers themselves around what they do and how brands can best partner with them to get the desired reach and conversion.
First up on the series is Wendy Tseng, popularly known as @wendeats, a micro influencer on the rise with a passion for food. With more than 52,000 followers, the Taiwanese-born influencer first began her food influencer journey in Sydney, Australia, where she spent many of her formative years. Today her followers are mainly aged 25 to 34, with a slight skew towards women.
Despite her growing influence, Tseng, who now resides in Singapore, says that creating content around food is actually a hobby for her as she is also a full-time dentist.
“Being a foodie, or what my friends call ‘my secret life’, apart from dentistry, has added so much more colour to my life and made it much more interesting,” she says.
“I’ve been able to meet more people, many of whom I never would have met if I had just stuck to dentistry. Apart from dentistry and food, I also love exercising and keeping fit, which I guess is necessary for me to keep up with all this eating!”
Sharing her journey in the influencer community, she says that in the Australian foodie world, she’d probably be known as one of the “OGs” because her brand was birthed when Instagram was just taking off and the food influencer community was only just starting to bloom.
“I started my brand because I’ve always loved food and eating. I originally decided to post up photos of what I’d been eating to display my love of food and my food journey. It was more as a way of keeping a diary to show my friends, and I wasn’t thinking much more of it,” she says.
“Fast forward to today, I really had no idea it would grow into everything it is, or that I’d actually be able to incorporate my personal life journey into it and share more of myself with my followers every day. For that, I can really say it has been, and still is, a blessing which I am thankful for every day.”
Growing your following
Having recently relocated to Singapore, Tseng is currently busy growing her following here in the tiny red dot. She spends several hours a day commenting on her followers’ posts and replying to their comments. However, keeping such a huge following engaged is harder than it looks, she says.
“I’m sure many people wouldn’t spend this much time and effort on this and may even use shortcut methods such as bots,” she says.
“However, I truly see the worth in doing this to not only build authentic relationships and grow a successful brand, but I also believe Instagram should be an interactive platform where ideas are shared, and I treasure the foodie community we’ve built and the support network we now have,” she says.
Tseng also firmly believes the more an influencer engages with others, the more engagement they receive back.
“It’s about building real relationships and being consistent with this. And yes, this reciprocation does help to build your following.”
But keeping up with the constant need to “feed the gram” with content and engagement is by no means a cakewalk.
To watch the full interview, click here.
Creating content that stands out
With so much content out there, we also asked Nicholas Kontopoulos, Adobe APAC regional director of DX commercial marketing, for some tips to cut through the clutter. Kontopoulos agrees that today, it is getting much harder for brands to create content that really stands out but influencer marketing is definitely a step in the right direction as it allows brands to create authentic, dynamic and engaging content, and opens up a personal channel for communications with consumers.
“It is no longer just about launching and sharing content but increasingly consumers want a two-way communication where they can provide feedback and their feedback gets addressed,” he added.
Kontopoulos stressed that one of the key attributes that makes influencer marketing work is the end experience - which needs to be authentic. Brands need to be open to allow micro influencers to express their messaging in a way that aligns to the influencer’s personal brand.
“Just recently in our influencer marketing webinar, we had a chat with Dr. Sommer Kapitan who is a behavioural scientist, and her recommendation is brands should see micro influencers as content creators as opposed to paid promoters. This is why it is crucial for brands to spend time to research and choose a micro influencer with a personal brand and audience base that aligns to the business,” he added.
Choosing a niche versus keeping it versatile
Speaking to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on how to select between an influencer versatile in their content creation versus one that targets a specific vertical, Kontopoulos said that the brand must first decide between brand awareness and reach and sales conversion. Influencers who have celebrity status and a huge following can help build awareness and reach for brands. On the other hand, niche influencers tend to be subject matter experts, and have a smaller but more loyal base. Niche also works better for brands looking for a more targeted approach and who are more focused on driving results from a specific type of audience.
As for Tseng, she says she chooses to focus on a niche area because of her passion and love for the F&B industry.
“I wanted to share this with the world. I truly just love eating and trying new places all the time. It gets me very excited and I want to include all my followers in this exciting journey.”
This sense of discovery also resonates with her audience who, through her, can uncover new places and products. As such, brand side marketers often work closely with her to launch new offerings and through Tseng’s content, create a sense of excitement. This could be through giveaways or stories or even posts. Typically, when working with brands, Tseng has a fixed rate for clients enlisting her for one permanent post on her page and a story to feature their food, product or new launch. This includes content creation, posting and engagement.
“I have been told that it’s the large amount of effort that I put into the engagement afterwards – coupled with my attention to the detail in making sure that my client’s needs are met – which makes my service stand out from the rest,” she says.
When asked what success looks like to her, she says that she stays away from promising hard sales numbers as a consumer’s purchase decision depends on the food or product, and how interested people are in it.
What she does however promise, is to display the food or product in the best light possible and to give the client more exposure so they have a higher chance of selling the food or product.
There have been clients that may have not sold a lot of their products, but have come back to me really happy with my service as they got the exposure and engagement they wanted.
To watch the full interview, click here.