Creatively mastering influencer marketing
Chairman, Pico Group

Last year, the total value of influencer marketing was nearly US$14 billion and is expected climb to over US$16 billion in 2022. If planned properly, cooperation with influencers can open up business opportunities. But with their use being increasingly common, how can we keep influencer marketing fresh and effective in increasing brand exposure, boosting sales and improving ROI?

In the virtual world of the metaverse, avatars of real influencers could create countless new opportunities for brands to interact with customers. This was recently tried in a local company’s new store in a VR mall in the metaverse. Online users can visit 24/7, interact and even play games with the resident influencer’s avatar, as well as engaging in activities such as virtual fitting, yoga classes and product launches.

Tailoring virtual influencers around brands’ audience preferences can make them even more effective, fostering interaction across time and space. Compared to ‘real’ influencers, virtual ones are less likely to be affected by scandals, making them almost risk-free. Hang Seng Bank’s virtual influencer has distinct personality traits that resonate with young people, such as a willingness to take on new opportunities. She also shares her everyday life on social media, including such details as exercises and food preferences.

Employee influencer programmes are another useful tactic for some companies. As employees know the brand best, employee promotion of the brand is persuasive, and can noticeably boost sales. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Marc Jacobs launched an initiative for employees to share their ‘work from home’ outfits from the brand’s collection on social media. As well as promoting the brand, the initiative emphasised the close relationship between the company and its staff.

For influencer marketing to be effective, the plan must be precisely targeted to facilitate building a community and fostering interaction. Pico was targeting young audiences when it activated the ‘Escape Room Experience at Midea Pop-up Store’. During the broadcast of the live experience, online fans were able to interact with influencers in the store by voting on their actions. By capitalising on the appeal of interacting with influencers, the event helped expand the brand’s reach.

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes, and it is definitely not a good idea to make a marketing plan solely based on the size of their fanbase. Marketers ought to understand their characteristics and fanbase. This will help them choose the right influencer, tools and kinds of interaction the audience truly desires, maximising the marketing plan’s effect.

The full insights article was originally published in Headline Finance on 27 July 2022 (in Chinese only).

Source: Headline Finance (web version), 27 July 2022