While many marketing channels have suffered a drop in activity this year, influencer marketing has grown. But strategies have shifted significantly as influencers have become a popular channel for brands to communicate their purpose, and platform usage has diverisified, according to report by CastingAsia.
AnyMind Group's influencer-marketing business has analysed more than 170,000 influencers and 1,300 campaigns conducted between September 2019 and August 2020, to piece together how investment has swung over the past year. The report covers 10 markets: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. Platforms analysed include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
The report found that when Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic in March, brands more than doubled (130% increase) investment in influencer-marketing campaigns that focused on corporate social responsibility and public causes, such as social distancing and safety and prevention measures. There was also an 85% increase in branding campaigns for influencer marketing, which have remained popular throughout the year.
While many brands paused marketing spend from March through to the second quarter of the year, CastingAsia claims it didn't record a drop in influencer campaigns. In fact, digital-first brands such as gaming and e-commerce businesses activated more influencer-marketing campaigns from April to June, the company claims, with a majority of remaining businesses resuming influencer-marketing activities from July onwards.
It wasn't just the types of campaigns that shifted during Covid-19, but also the platforms on which they were run. While Instagram was by far the most popular platform from September 2019 to March 2020, the number of campaigns run on Facebook jumped by nearly 10% from March to April, to command 39% of all campaigns.
Twitter also gained momentum from March onwards after a slow first six months, and campaigns run on YouTube jumped by 7% from April. On average, Instagram was the host for a majority (45%) of influencer-marketing campaigns in the past year.
Instagram had the best engagement rates on influencer content over the past year, the report found, with an average engagement rate of 2.98%. Micro-influencers (10,000 to 100,000 followers) were found to have the highest engagement rates on Instagram and Facebook, while YouTube's top performers were nano influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers).
AnyMind Group chief operating officer Rohit Sharma said constant evolution is to be expected when Asia is still in the early stage of influencer marketing. "This report shows how marketers in Asia are increasingly embracing influencer marketing to remove physical and geographical borders with their customers," he said.
When it comes to the most popular platform for influencers, this differs greatly by market. Instagram is the most-used in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, whilst Facebook is the dominant platform in Myanmar. YouTube commands a more than 50% share in Cambodia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Japan has the highest Twitter usage out of all markets in Asia.
Myanmar is an outlier when it comes to follower volume. Micro-influencers are the most populous demographic (46.32%) for social-media influencers in every market except Myanmar, where macro-influencers are the most populous. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines saw faster growth in the micro-influencer population over the past year.
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