Insights

Arthur Altounian  | 

As the return to post-Covid ‘normal’ is set to be a slow process, Arthur Altounian, the vice president, of client strategy and growth in Asia Pacific at INCA, says e-commerce and social media will continue to fill the gap left by the loss of in-store retail.

While e-commerce on marketplaces is the preferred channel for shoppers in South East Asia, social commerce has become the second-most dominant form of shopping and is set to be worth $2.6 billion within two years in the region. Influencer marketing once dismissed as an add-on to a digital strategy, is now driving billions of brand conversations with the content driving purchase and generating millions in sales. To fully capitalize on this though, marketers must be prepared to evolve and shape their influencer investments with the fierceness and resilience the year of the tiger demands.

Here are four ways brands should start including in their influencer marketing strategy to stay ahead of competitors and fierce in the industry.

Immerse in the metaverse

Although currently in its infancy, the metaverse has the potential to completely transform lives and will inevitably reshape the social media landscape. Key to this is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to change his company’s name to Meta in his grand scheme to develop a virtual world.

According to Zuckerberg, the metaverse will be an interactive digital space in which users are fully immersed in content rather than just consuming it. This could open up a whole world of interaction and communication for influencers.

A recent report by R3 revealed that authenticity, individuality, and immediacy are some of the key attributes young digital natives seek from their influencers. The metaverse has the potential for a whole new world of interaction and communication for influencers, both with their peers and their audiences.

Influencers can recreate their real life in a parallel virtual world that has no boundaries. Brands will therefore have more opportunities to flex their creative muscles, pioneering new ways of speaking to consumers on a deep, immersive level. Communicating with large communities comes naturally to influencers, so they will be natural candidates for attracting consumers to a brand’s virtual space.

Purchasing in-platform

In-platform purchasing on social media is set to skyrocket to become a $3.37 trillion business globally over the next eight years. It is, therefore, no surprise that Meta/Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest are all investing heavily in creating more seamless paths to purchase on their platforms.

At last year’s TikTok World event, we got a glimpse of the platform’s upcoming features, including ‘Instant Pages’ and ‘Pop-up Showcase’, which are expected to improve brand and creator collaboration and be a driving force behind customers’ purchase decisions.

As noted by R3, South East Asian consumers value a hyperlocal approach to marketing. Therefore, social media influencers applicable to each regional market can generate more trust in their brand recommendations, giving them more power to drive online sales. This applies both to celebrity influencers and so-called micro-influencers, who command dedicated audiences through their niches.

QVC goes digital

Anyone over the age of 35 may remember their parents killing long afternoons by shopping on QVC broadcast television networks and channels in the US that offered the viewer a televised, in-home shopping experience. However, this relic of the 1980s and 90s may be making a comeback in the medium of live shopping experiences on social media.

Indeed in China today, live stream shopping accounts for 9% of e-commerce sales. While South East Asia is yet to see this take off, there are some key innovations for marketers to be aware of.

On Facebook live shopping and Shopee Live, for example, influencers can broadcast a live stream themselves discussing their favorite products. This could span anything from fitness tips to make-up tutorials – content in which a target audience is actively seeking product information, usability, and recommendations.

However, creators are only one part of the process. While they can engage their audience and steer them towards recommendations, brands will need to invest in more self-broadcast capabilities to control their traffic and brand message, while also offering a seamless option for purchases.

Crunch the numbers

It’s all too easy to think the job is done when the campaign finally gets launched, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Measuring campaign traction and sales conversions from content creators with accurate attribution will both help marketers track return on investment while informing campaign positioning across other media.

With effective measurement in place, marketers can better leverage the numbers for further brand amplification. Boosting content, using platform integrations and partnerships will drive scale outside of a creator’s organic network.

By creating the perfect combination of influencer-generated content and paid channels such as social media, digital-out-of-home (DOOH), or connected TV, marketers will gain more quantifiable results across the marketing funnel while generating a higher return on investment from the influencer relationship. Consistent content amplification also builds trust with followers, resulting in a long-lasting impression and increased brand awareness.

With the return to post-Covid ‘normalcy’ set to be a slow process, e-commerce and social media will continue to fill the gap left by the loss of in-store retail. Marketers who can harness the reach, trust, and shoppabilty of influencer marketing will be the ones to earn their stripes this year.

Arthur Altounian is the vice president of client strategy and growth in Asia Pacific for INCA.

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