What marketers can learn from Southeast Asia’s online influencers
From beauty and fashion to lifestyle and fitness, influencers are infiltrating the digital world one screen at a time. These are people with immense power: they have an outstanding number of followers who they can reach out to across numerous digital platforms, including YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. For instance, Thai influencer Permporn has 105,612 subscribers on her YouTube channel alone. Coming from comparably normal backgrounds, they have tremendous influence over adolescents, who often distrust big organisations and look to the digital sphere for role models and guidance. In Southeast Asia, in line with the region’s digitalisation, influencers are even shaping the trends around them.
So what enables influencers in the area to be so powerful? Firstly, they tailor their content to their audiences. In SEA, people often get their information on mobile phones, not desktop computers. Instead of searching for things, mobile-first users tend to devour information via recommendations from their social feeds, exactly the sort of content influencers' create.
Secondly, SEA influencers completely understand the region’s data mindset, and have developed sophisticated social media infrastructures in response. They maintain presences across multiple platforms (typically Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), tailoring the same content to each channel. By using short form content, influencers also offer solutions to match the data-deficient needs of their Southeast Asian audience, who often only have access to small pockets of intermittent data with a stable connection.
Zerosmeo – an emerging Thai influencer with 14.1 k followers spreading the word for Maybelline’s colour tattoo
Thirdly, emerging SEA influencers give their audiences that intimate, personal emotional connection they crave. They curate their content in response to their audience’s comments, reactions and questions, creating things like make up styling videos. Perceived as real and unadulterated, they acquire the trust of their followers. By framing the relationship as intimate and personal, influencers have the ability to infiltrate their audience’s lives. Yet amidst the ‘insider’ access to snippets of their lives, they stealthily sprinkle themselves in marketing sponsored adverts, making a fortune out of their own autonomy.
influencers are modern day guerrilla marketers, able to penetrate a small but significant group of people directly. Like Maybelline’s Colour Tattoo Campaign in Thailand, which sought the help of local influencers to make the campaign feel relevant for its audience, marketers need to leverage the prowess of these emerging influencers and tailor content that is relatable, relevant, and accessible to “the next billion”.
- Article by Marguerite Vernes, Nigel Lim and Fiona pay