The influencer industry has been dragged into the spotlight recently, thanks to a much-highlighted study that looked at engagement rates on Instagram.
With headlines summarising that “influencers are losing their influence”, the Malaysian influencer industry also took a hit. According to the study, Malaysian influencers had relatively lower engagement rates, and some news headlines have not held back, with words like “fake” and “less influential than their SEA counterparts” being thrown around.
We decided to bring up this recent issue to KOMACI, a data-driven influencer marketing platform, and asked for the team’s thoughts.
“We don’t agree with the statement that influencers in Malaysia are ‘less influential’ because Malaysia is a multi-cultured country, and we are very diverse, from race to language, to culture. That complexity and the size of our population could be one of the reasons the metrics are low,” said Ben Wong, the CEO of KOMACI.
But the issue goes a little bit deeper than that, and the team believes that how many of us see the industry is inherently flawed.
The More The Merrier… Right?
“The perception has always been, the higher the followers the better it is, however that’s not always the case,” explained Ben.
In the year that they’ve been active in this region, the KOMACI team has seen it happen time and time again.
“The misunderstanding is that the larger the follower count, the better the influencers get. Or a pretty face has better engagement,” said Nicholas, the COO of KOMACI.
He also explained that some clients confuse social influencers as universal ambassadors, when they should instead be looking for people who are relevant for their brands.
“You can’t run KOL (key opinion leader) campaigns as if you’re running on traditional media,” he said.
KOMACI has been preaching the same message from day one, and they’re repeating it again: relevance is key.
“It’s all about targeting the right influencers to deliver a relevant content, and also creatively delivering their communication messages through the medium of influencer marketing,” shared Nicholas.
Making Data The King
It’s all talk without real-life examples, so KOMACI gave us one of how targeting the right influencer allowed an advertiser to reach their target market.
“For a project with an airline, the platform was able to identify influencers who had travelled to a few ASEAN destinations, without having to send the influencers to the actual location again. We only had 3 days to gather the right people, and the platform was able to do that by getting those influencers to post ‘throwback’ posts, and then bring in the airline’s campaign. This was both efficient and relevant, and also helped the airline save cost,” said the team.
What exactly does looking at data mean though?
Besides the total follower count, engagement, and content niche, KOMACI recommended that potential advertisers should look at the influencer audience demographic, relevance of their overall content, and authenticity of their followers.
On their own platform, KOMACI also has a rating system, and where influencers are rated in terms of their overall performance: from response, to quality of work, and delivery of timeline.
“In fact, if any influencers fail to deliver, the platform is able to quickly replace them with another influencer,” said Nicholas.
Also, this helps to address any concerns that micro-influencers in particular aren’t very professional, and that it’s a hassle to work with them.
KOMACI’s newest module to their platform, KOMACI+, divides influencers in category types (e.g fitness, foodie, home and living) and you can also look at individual accounts and see what are their most engaged posts, which will help you decide if they are suitable for your campaign.
Other data points include word clouds that show you the hashtags that the influencer uses the most, estimated cost per post for campaigns, brand sentiments (e.g. whether the comments are positive or negative, how relevant are the comments), averages like counts, and average comments per post.
On top of their current role helping agencies manage their influencer campaigns, KOMACI envisions KOMACI+ as a space where clients can effortlessly buy into influencer marketing.
“A lot of brands would imagine that influencer marketing is expensive, but we’re making it more affordable now,” said Nicholas.
“For marketers or brands out there, we will be a full-fledged, self-serving platform across Southeast Asia. At the moment, KOMACI is present in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Cambodia. Being a platform, expanding and scaling to other countries is easier as long as we find the right partner.”
“And as for influencers that join us on KOMACI, we will have activities, workshops, collaborations within the community to cultivate influencer marketing as a whole.”
The platform is set to officially launch in Q3 2019, with the beta being open to public by August 2019.
Going back to the study mentioned at the beginning of this piece, Nicholas could only conclude, “The growth of social ‘influencers’ peaked too fast, to the point that we sort of forgot the basics. Everybody wants to be one nowadays; you could, but there’s more to just growing your number of followers.”
“Influencers needs to know that the baggage that they carry reflects on their audience and being engaged with them is the key. But with the changes in the algorithm of reach, influencers will need to find ways to manoeuvre around it.”
And with changes happening once again on Instagram with likes being hidden from posts, the KOMACI team had this to say for the future of their industry, “Engagement will definitely still be the key measurement. It may not come from likes in future, but we believe that there’ll be a replacement for it. Even then, with data, you still can pretty much know who your audiences are.”