In this article, Wing Lee, GM of Taiwan, AnyMind Group, shares with us the evolution of influencer marketing in Taiwan, unpacks several trends happening in Taiwan, and what marketers should know to be successful in influencer marketing today.
Influencer marketing in Taiwan has evolved over the years, and we are about to enter the third evolution of influencer marketing here in Taiwan. One that promises to be highly attributable, shoppable and results-driven, and provides businesses with the ability to capture a growing diaspora of consumer wants and needs.
In the past, brands typically collaborated with KOLs through Facebook live broadcasts to achieve better sales results, offering fans of KOLs good discounts on products recommended by the KOL. In recent years, hybrid models have emerged, such as posts with in-depth experiences and multiple Instagram stories delivered to fans simultaneously. These stories showcase the product’s effectiveness and may include a URL for fans to make purchases or invite KOLs to conduct group buying activities.
In addition to paying KOLs for content fees, clients provide commissions and even set different tiers, where the more KOLs sell, the more bonuses they receive, creating a KOS (Key Opinion Sales) for the brand.
While sales performance is always the most desired result, awareness is still essential.
Achieving sales is like fishing in a pond, where the goal is to catch all the fish. However, if the pond is not large enough, the number of fish that can be caught is limited. To increase brand awareness, brands with rich marketing experience typically allocate their project budget into two categories: awareness and sales.
The awareness portion is usually assigned a KPI with engagement and CPE (cost per engagement) numbers to ensure that the budget is being used effectively. For sales, brands usually refer to previous sales records from similar campaigns or the same period from the previous year to measure the success of the project. In fact, brands should also consider sales performance targets and the target ratio of new customer acquisition, and how to recruit new customers through different KOLs before the project’s launch.
Shifting forms of cooperation with KOLs In Taiwan, many KOLs were initially hesitant to accept an affiliate cooperation model as they lacked confidence in their real sales ability. In traditional cooperation models, brands did not provide sales data, leaving KOLs with only impression and engagement data on their social media platforms, and made it difficult for them to see the benefits of affiliate cooperation. However, as profit-sharing cooperation models have matured and social commerce has become more complete, KOLs in Taiwan have begun to accept mixed cooperation models over the past two to three years. These models allow KOLs to receive a portion of the fixed posting fee and a portion of the sales commission.
In the era of social commerce, KOLs have established a strong traffic base that can drive sales. Participating in affiliate campaigns can provide new income opportunities and valuable experience for KOLs, which will assist them in making future choices and decisions. If they establish their own brand or product sales, the experience and data gained from affiliate campaigns will prove to be invaluable.
Bridging of gaps between clout and trust In the past four to five years, “de-influencing” has gained popularity in Taiwan. Compared to KOLs who only give positive reviews, fans perceive KOLs who provide objective reviews as more authentic and honest. This ultimately makes them more trustworthy, so some KOLs do monthly in-depth analyses of why they don’t recommend certain products. However, some KOLs avoid doing this for fear of negatively impacting their brand collaboration opportunities.
There are three perspectives on this matter:
Industry perspective – Objectively speaking, this type of content can increase engagement and build trust with fans, leading to better results in future brand collaborations. However, the key is objectivity. Why is the product not recommended? Is it unsuitable for certain groups, scenarios, or body types? Is it possible to use the product differently for positive effects on other groups? If the content is more than just for show and offers an in-depth analysis of the product’s shortcomings without excessive bias, it can provide a high reference value. Perhaps the product is not suitable for the KOL’s direct audience, but it may still be suitable for other people.
Brand perspective – Brands can view this type of content with a positive attitude. No product is perfect or suitable for everyone. When faced with negative content, brands can use it as an opportunity to understand why the product is not recommended and avoid working with KOLs who are not suitable for their products. It’s important to focus on finding suitable KOLs to work with rather than just popular ones, as a popular KOL can have just as much negative influence as a positive influence. Ultimately, influencer marketing is based on trust and authenticity, so it’s important to always find KOLs who genuinely love and appreciate the product.
KOL perspective – Trust and interaction with fans are the keys to becoming a KOL. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide sincere information to fans, even if it means sharing negative feedback. However, it’s important to be objective and avoid criticizing products solely for the sake of gaining traffic. When collaborating with brands, KOLs should choose products that they truly like and find suitable after trying them out. This will increase their confidence in recommendations and help provide specific and useful information to fans. When fans trust a KOL, the conversion rate increases, leading to more opportunities to work with brands and products they genuinely appreciate.
By viewing this type of content positively, KOLs can provide honest feedback, fans can receive sincere advice, and brands can sell products to the right audience, resulting in a win-win-win situation.
KOLs going D2C Although not common at present, KOLs are increasingly looking to launch their own brands. While many KOLs rely on sponsored content from brand collaborations, this can lead to an overreliance on the seasonality of brand campaigns, scheduling conflicts, and missed opportunities. To combat this, many KOLs are turning to building their own brands, becoming brand managers, and leveraging their community to bring in stable income.
Fortunately, launching their own brand does not necessarily mean that KOLs will lose brand partnerships. Even if the products or brands they sell conflict with other partnerships, it is still possible to maintain both as long as there is a gap period between them. The key is to be honest with fans and carefully consider the content. Fans follow KOLs because these KOLs have experience with many different products, making their opinions valuable. KOLs do not need to refuse all similar products just because they have established their own brand.
However, some KOLs are still cautious about establishing their own brand in case it affects their current commercial partnerships. To mitigate this risk, some KOLs may choose to focus their brand on products that do not directly conflict with their partnerships. For example, beauty KOLs may collaborate with four to six different cosmetics or skincare brands/products in a month, but their own brand focuses on clothing, accessories, shoes, leather goods, and other products that are attractive to their followers. This allows KOLs to operate their own brands while maintaining existing business opportunities.
New aspects of influencer marketing It is worth noting that major social media platforms have recently introduced new shoppable functions, such as the ability to purchase during live broadcasts, purchase in videos, and Instagram’s shopping feature. As a result, more and more brands are utilizing these tools to establish new sales channels and boost their sales performance. Additionally, many brands are eager to experiment with new digital and MarTech tools to evaluate the efficacy of their marketing campaigns.
Meanwhile, in an age where everyone wants to collaborate with KOLs, brand marketers are faced with the challenge of how to develop deep relationships with influencers, build brand loyalty, and avoid producing mundane sponsored content.
To address this issue, many brands are partnering with influencers who exhibit strong brand loyalty to create co-branded products.
By involving influencers in the product design and development process, new and innovative ideas can be generated, and influencers become more invested in promoting the product, which generates a sense of accomplishment that they can share with their followers. This model requires longer project timelines and deeper communication between brands and influencers. Ultimately, authenticity is key to building trust with fans, and brands typically offer influencers a fixed fee with sales commission to incentivize them to achieve the best sales results possible for the product.
At the end of the day, influencer marketing is at the early stages of its third evolution, and marketers should adapt and evolve together, or risk losing out to their competitors. This third evolution will also see a win-win-win equilibrium amidst rising wants from all sides of the equation – brands looking for more accountability, KOLs looking for increased opportunities, and fans looking for connection.
It’s time to enter this third evolution.