Influencers have been an important part of the marketing industry. Brands and marketers collaborate with them to work on campaigns or other marketing efforts, and they have a lot of influencers from various categories to choose from, such as fashion and beauty, entertainment, travel, food and drink, sports, to name a few.
To better engage the audience, brands and marketers need to know which platform suits them most and the most used social platform. A previous study by AnyMind group highlighted that Instagram remains the most-used social media platform by influencers in Hong Kong with a share of 53.77%, followed by Facebook (24.58%) and YouTube (20.72%). Only less than 1% of influencers leverage Twitter to engage the audience. Instagram is mainly used by nano-influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers) and micro-influencers (10,000 to 50,000 followers) due to its ability to cater to those starting out and aiding them in growing their influence. Moreover, plenty of nano-influencers also leverage Facebook to curate content, but only a handful of micro-influencers use it.
done by VS Media unveiled that 78% did not mind indirect advertising as long as the content produced by influencers was entertaining. Also, 73% trusted influencers' recommendations or reviews even if their content contained ads or involved paid partnerships.
In light of the rising importance of influencers, we asked the marketing industry in Hong Kong what are some of the trends they are looking out for as we fast approach 2022.
Ben Chien, Greater China managing director of AnyMind Group
With today’s technology, data around influencers and influencer marketing campaigns will be even more varied and accessible. Marketers are able to easily visualise the impact of influencer marketing campaigns on business results. Apart from being a driver for brand awareness, influencer marketing in 2022 will be increasingly focused on conversion metrics such as click and conversion rates.
Marketers can take advantage of such data to better understand the impact of influencer marketing on each stage of the consumer journey, and better plan strategies to capture customers at various stages of their journey.
The rise of social commerce will have a profound impact on influencer marketing as well. Social media will become a key sales channel for brands and even influencers rather than just a communication platform.
This means content curation of campaigns must be spot on to not only attract people’s attention, but also strong enough to spur consumers to make the purchase immediately without heading to another platform.
For brands, it is crucial to keep trying new ways to approach the target audience. Influencer marketing is not just focusing on one particular type of influencer that a brand is working with, but working with influencers in other verticals to see whether they share the same follower demographics with your target audience. For example, a cosmetics brand can work with travel influencers in addition to beauty influencers.
Additionally, influencers, who have started their own brands, can also demonstrate their capability to drive business results. Apart from purchase volume, they can also show how to create and deliver content that converts sales.
Brands need to plan how to get deeper insight from influencers and marketing campaigns; run and scale campaigns across tens or hundreds of influencers and A/B testing; and build a long-term influencer marketing strategy and audience relationship based on previously available campaign data while optimising and improving these campaigns.
Influencers also need to cultivate loyal followers and build deeper connections with their fans. Of course, having an in-depth understanding of their followers is important to know what types of content that they need to create. However, they also need to find ways to build greater relationships with fans such as exclusive content subscriptions and creating branded products.
Moreover, being present and building communities across multiple social media channels are other ways to not only broaden the audience base but also create more collaborations with brands to deliver different types of content across various platforms.
Jack Lambert, head of social and social commerce at Havas Hong Kong
Influencer marketing will become more of a staple for brands, and less of a nice to have. It’s proven to drive real business outcomes for brands, and therefore we’ll see it become always-on for many. I also believe that brands and influencers will be brought closer together as channels mature. One example of this is Meta’s launch of Instagram Collabs – a way to co-produce content between two parties and share credits for likes, views and comments generated together. Finally, and linking back to the point above, I can foresee the social media platforms offering improved capabilities for live commerce, allowing for easier, faster and more interactive processes for checkout, straight from the streaming platform.
Brand should look to build longer term relationships with influencers, instead of finding an influencer for just a campaign.
We already know that long term relationships with influential people work – you just have to look at sports sponsorships to see how competitive this space really is. Secondly, I encourage brands to explore micro-influencer activations. While being able to reach a huge amount of people with a high-profile influencer is a benefit, having a highly engaged audience from someone who you feel closer to is equally important. We know that people like buying from brands they feel a connection with or relate to, and that’s exactly what micro-influencers can do as there is a greater sense of authenticity in their content. Influencer platforms today can allow marketers to scale micro-influencer activations very easily, and also come with the insights required to run data-driven planning, activation and reporting.
Wilson Wong, marketing director at Price.com.hk
Influencer commerce will be one of the key trends in influencer marketing next year as eCommerce is getting more important. Marketers would try to apply more KPIs on influencer promotions, from the basic figures to conversion. Basic figures such as views, comments, shares and likes are no longer enough, while traffic and conversion are the upcoming KPIs for influencer marketing. Another key trend is increased fragmentation.
It is expected that more and more new individual influencers will enter the market, thus it is more difficult for marketers spreading their promotion messages by only employing a handful of influencers.
Influencers can make more effort in building a stronger ties with followers instead of boosting the number of followers. By cultivating followers' loyalty, influencers can introduce a subscription model and build a loyal fans club to generate more revenue. Having more followers is not the only way to succeed, but building loyalty from fans could also be another smart way to stay competitive.
Ivy Wong, founder and CEO of VS Media
The right mix of influencers in any marketing campaign will be the key trend next year. Brands need to make good use of mega influencers to build brand awareness, then collaborate with influencers and micro-influencers to amplify the messages across different levels. After that, they need to leverage KOCs (key opinion customers) to induce sales.
Another trend is social commerce. How to engage influencers to directly drive sales for brands such as using livestreaming flash sales is something that brands need to take note of.
The last trend is that influencer marketing will become more targeted. Brand should work with influencers who have a niche to engage customers.
On the other hand, influencers should show what they are passionate about. They need to show their true identity and opinion and be genuine to their audience, as well as focus on building loyalty and engagement instead of increasing the number of followers. That is, the term “genuinfluencers” will be more popular. Also, influencers can work with an influencer agency to represent them, facilitating partnerships with brands since influencer marketing will only be getting more complicated as there are new ways of partnership and formats in the future.
Riki Li, managing partner, content, Wavemaker China
Influencer co-creation will be more accessible within a platform ecosystem. We can use the Chinese market as an example. Social media giants, such as Douyin, Xiaohongshu and WeChat, are continuously improving digital infrastructure. They are building an influencer management database to refine their operation, meaning that managing branded influencer data is becoming particularly important.
The rise of social commerce also spurs the phenomenon of “Interest to commerce." For example, Douyin's data shows that consumers’ click-for-purchase increased by 22%; and the total gross merchandise volume (GMV) of branded social commerce stores increased by 92% in the first half of 2021. The numbers indicated that a new commerce model led by an influencer matrix deserves more attention.
In Greater China, influencer marketing has the potential of continuing to grow rapidly in the next few years.
We can foresee the spending on influencer co-creation will keep increasing. More brands are realising that influencer marketing is an effective branded seeding method. As digital giants have already completed their infrastructure of data capabilities and designed a closed-loop purchase journey, what clients expect most is leveraging influencer marketing to achieve the synergy of branding and conversion.
Therefore, there are two things that brands need to keep in mind: First, they can build a branded influencer pool for the refined operation to guide influencer selection, content optimisation, and enhance conversion efficiency. Second, they can build up new commerce channels as soon as possible within the social commerce ecosystem to accelerate purchase conversion.
Howell Wong, co-founder of Zero Plus One
Brands are becoming more data-savvy. There are more tools available on the market such as measurement tools for social platforms, while they can also access social listening and other third-party tools. The engagement between clients and influencers will certainly become more performance-based.
Brands will focus more on the performance of influencers and whether influencers can help achieve business goals - and these will become more transparent in the world of data.
More sophisticated ways of storytelling will be used in the form of gamification and different media formats too. In 2022, although mainstream platforms will continue to dominate the market, it is expected that more emerging social platforms tailored to certain communities will become popular.
Moreover, the cost of collaborating with influencers is increasing. Hence, ROI is getting more important. Brands need to measure the performance of influencers, as well as stay ahead and know the trends in upcoming platforms and influencers. Building longer and more meaningful ties with a team of influencers is the key to success too. They can even take one step further by collaborating with super-loyal customers or commissioning their employees to create content.
Influencers need to have more freedom to create content for brands. Currently, many millennials have ad-blockers and they even despise scripted captions. Hence, both brands and influencers have to work harder on how to better engage the audience in different platforms; the diversity of formats and creativity.
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