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How Micro Influencers Have Taken Over Asian Digital Marketing

How Micro Influencers Have Taken Over Asian Digital Marketing

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10 years ago 80% of marketing budgets went to the media. Roughly 90% of them were spent on TV.

Recently, a chance brought me to work in a digital media agency in Southeast Asia. We got a brief from a huge client for their new movie promotion. To my surprise, three-quarters of the allocated budget got labeled with ‘Influencers’ from the get-go.

Why all brands in Asia go crazy about influencer marketing?

Asia is at the peak of digital growth, with smartphones penetration levels close to 90%. The populations of Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Korea are very young. People under thirty years of age make 30 to 50 percent of the population. According to NexMo, East Asia and Southeast Asia are the #1 and #2 social markets worldwide, with 1 billion cumulative users accessing social media platforms across both regions.

Young people are into smartphones, not the TV. And they’re quite aware of advertising. They don’t swallow it easily – unless it’s from influencers.

In Vietnam, over 50% of the young audience would be influenced by the fashion choices of an opinion leader. Over 60% are ready to learn from their life experiences.

A few specifics of the region make authentic influencers extremely powerful:

  • Content tailored to the audience. People in Southeast Asia mostly use mobile internet. Instead of looking for things via desktop browsers, they pick up the information from reviews in social feeds. This is exactly the right soil for an influencers performance.
  • Understanding the local data realities. Unstable connections and small portions of intermittent data. By fine-tuning tiny bits of content for the various channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), influencers make life easier for their audience.
  • Intimate emotional connection. The Southeast Asian audience craves for very personal treatment. Influencers here curate their feeds according to followers comments and reactions. Thus they win deep trust and monetize it by sprinkling themselves with stealthy ads.

How internet nerds became the cool kids

Movie and music stars boast millions of followers. But their audience engagement rates are barely half of what micro influencers have, according to Digiday.

In Asia, these statistics are even more impressive. Narratrs, the Singaporean micro-influencer platform, claims that content created and amplified by micro-influencers generated up to 10 times higher engagement rates than macro-influencers.

Niche accounts with 10K to 100K followers are real opinion leaders for their friends, family, and followers. The benefit of their ready-made, organically grown audiences is outstanding levels of trust.

Simply put, the “micro” range brings you best engagement and best conversion rates.

Where do brands find micro influencers?


CampaignAsia noticed a boom of influencer marketing agencies bringing new names every day. Bigger Western players like Maker Studios, StyleHaul and adMingle are entering the market, too.

The pros of hiring one are the hassle-free process. You just set KPIs and point out your desired audience. The cons are the prices. Be prepared to shell out an extra 20-30% of the cost.


Are you staffed enough to court a dozen micro-influencers in-house? Then there is a ton of automated platforms for you.

Register to create your campaign in less than 5 minutes. Point out your desired market, message, and budget, and you’re good to go.

What influencers do brands like most?

  1. Involved in long-term campaigns, but not “stuck”
  2. Provide good data for stakeholders: not too much, not too little
  3. Good engagement rates and growth rate over time, not the number of followers
  4. Dazzling results are treated with suspicion. Steady and organic growth is preferred.
  5. To reduce the risk and increase efficiency, the brand often works with several influencers. But they all have to be a good match for the product.

Smaller numbers shouldn’t discourage you. Here’s an example of a restaurant launch engagement report:

How brands plan their content with influencers

Brand generated

The brand comes up with the content for the influencers to spread it across their networks. It is a very safe way, though least effective due to low personalization.


Content must follow the guidelines and checklists provided by the brand.  Influencers come up with their own concepts accordingly. Higher impact, but risk increased.

Influencer generated

Brand gives a general brief task. From there, influencers are only limited by their creativity. It’s a chance to get outstanding content pieces. But the risk calls for the review checkpoints.

Which strategies proved to bring the highest ROI?

Attendance at sponsored events and partnerships

Takashimaya Mid Autumn Campaign


  • Exposure to over 588,000 followers of influencers
  • 98 campaign-related posts
  • 29,400+ likes on Instagram
  • 1,100+ comments

Swire White Christmas


  • Exposure to over 430,000 followers of influencers
  • 47 campaign-related posts
  • 23,000+ likes on Instagram
  • 460 new Instagram fans

Building hype around product launches

PayPal E-Payment Launch



  • Exposure to over 390,000 followers of influencers
  • 40 campaign-related posts
  • 23,000+ likes on Instagram
  • 350+ comments
  • 205 clicks to the restaurant’s pages

Tinder promotion


  • Exposure to over 180,000 followers of influencers
  • 15 campaign-related posts

Creating product reviews to increase trust with the audience

Ayam Brand in search for long-term ambassadors


  • Exposure to over 200,000 followers of influencers
  • 34 campaign-related posts
  • 17,000+ likes on Instagram
  • 440+ comments

Promotion for the Changi Airport Group online shopping


  • Exposure to over 300,000+ followers of influencers on Instagram
  • 4,000+ likes and comments received

Having an always-on strategy to increase brand love

Promoting a fitness supplement for women


  • 120+ influencers engaged
  • 390 product reviews in 3 months
  • +250% product inquiries
  • +220% organic website traffic
  • 15% average social media engagement
  • +450% organic fans

Always-on community building campaign for Alce Nero

1st Month Results

  • Exposure to over 98,000+ followers of influencers
  • 20 campaign-related posts
  • 5,500+ likes received
  • 370+ comments received

Creating opportunities for conversion through offers and promotions

Redeem Promotion of Bust Enhancement Programme


  • 6 blog posts
  • Exposure to over 140,000 followers of influencers on Instagram
  • 12 Instagram posts
  • 5,900+ likes on Instagram
  • 350+ comments

Seasonal offer for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day


  • Exposure to over 647,000 followers of influencers
  • 12,500+ likes and comments on Instagram

 What’s “Always-On vs. Campaign” relationships?

Choosing between long-term brand advocacy and situational short-term messaging?

Lumanu found that the best strategy is using a mix of both. Endorse a group of the most relevant bloggers on a constant basis. Then add up as needed with campaign-specific influencers. (It’s a great way to tap another niche market safely, as well.)

How do brands get best results from micro influencers?

  • Be symbiotic.
  • Make your intentions clear. Be specific about your goals, objectives, and timeline.
  • Excite them. Micro influencers look for various incentives. Some only care about hard cash. Others would love to have VIP treatment by your brand, or being featured on the company website.
  • Find the right communication style. Not all bloggers, by far instagrammers, would check their emails as religiously as the office folks. If there is a gap in communication, try Viber or Telegram to find the best solution for everyone.
  • Make it long-term to win a lifetime exclusive advocate for your brand.

Wrap up

As prices are rising, micro influencers are not the Bonanza they used to be even 12 months ago. Yet, what I see working from an ROI perspective is two heads taller than that of other marketing channels. Especially paid ads.

The era of ad-blockers calls for genuine promotions. In Asia today, the brands who want to stand out on the web have made their choice. Every day they engage more micro influencers for the advocacy of their products.

Lifelong contracts are just a matter of time.

Guest author: Samantha Engman has a passion for good content and working smart. After a decade in marketing agencies, she switched to consultancy for aspiring businesses. Recently Sam was noticed creating brand strategies for Bid4papers and sharing tips on building online success via her Twitter.

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