Within today’s digital consumer economy, influencers have the power to sway purchasing decisions simply because their endorsements of products and services play a role in the overall buying process.
Marketing expert Kausern Hieu (pic), who is the country manager of Nuffnang, a subsidiary of ASX-listed Netccentric Limited, explained that the influencer marketing industry has been growing leaps and bounds due in part to the convergence between the community and commerce.
“Influencers continue to be the ‘X-Factor’ to win over consumers within today’s digital economy,” explained Kausern in an exclusive interview with Business Today.
“It is booming because consumers tend to trust endorsements as approvals from credible third parties.”
According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers tend to trust recommendations from family and friends over advertising.
“Influencer marketing is as close to the real thing as brands can get and still retain some creative control over the message and audience,” emphasised Kausern.
“The practice (influencer marketing) integrates products into influencers’ lives that their followers seek inspiration from and can relate to. These attributes potentially increase consideration and purchase intent.”
Nuffnang’s winning value proposition for influencers
As it stands, Nuffnang’s influencer ecosystem is already a comprehensive one.
Today, it has one of the largest influencer community reach in Malaysia (by revenue) and has one of the most comprehensive networks of some 13,000 celebrities, personalities and content creators across all levels of society and diversity with a collective reach to more than 20 million consumers in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
Traditionally, companies like Nuffnang was seen to be representing influencers and bloggers, just like how a talent agency would for actors and musicians. But after a decade in the business, Nuffnang has evolved into a full-service influencer marketing platform.
“Influencers’ success is our success,” Kausern further said. “Today, the influencer business is an open market. So, in order for influencers to want to continually work with us, we have to go beyond just brokering branded campaign deals for them but to create an enhanced ecosystem to help them to grow and be better at their craft.”
Workshops for influencers, Nuffnang Academy
An example is the company’s training arm, Nuffnang Academy. The goal of this academy is to help influencers create an impact in their profession by arming them with relevant skill sets.
One of the workshops provided is called the Insider Series. This workshop is designed to help influencers learn further about what their online presence mean to partners and clients. Its most recent subject was on “Instagram Insights” where they were taught to understand their audiences better, coupled with the sharing of key factors on how to enhance their overall Instagram marketing strategies.
“These insights are important because it indicates how much value one’s content brings to the public (such as, how it brings success to brands and businesses). Besides that, it helps influencers continuously improve their postings for future campaigns by creating content that is more engaging to improve their numbers,” said Kausern.
Just recently, Nuffnang Academy conducted a masterclass for influencers on how to be more captivating in a live commerce session.
Nuffnang Merchandise Store
Nuffnang also has an initiative for influencer merchandising.
“Unbeknownst to many, in order to start a merchandise line, there’s a number of aspects to be considered and prepared beforehand such as sourcing for the right materials, website management, shipping, order management, designs, upfront stock, and others. For influencers who want to get into this business, it would be a daunting experience – this is where Nuffnang comes in.”
Nuffnang’s ability here stems from its collaboration with merchandising partner, Famsy: “Famsy is a team that specialises in in apparel and customisable gifts. Famsy is well-loved by their loyal fans due to their fast fulfillment turnaround, thousands of designs to choose from, and high quality products to be customized from – all done on their e-commerce website. For both Nuffnang and Famsy, this new collaboration marks the start of both our team’s expansion into influencer merchandising.”
When asked to cite an example, Kausern replied that a recent one was with actor, singer and songwriter Naim Daniel in conjunction with the launch of his hit single Sembah’s music video release, which also features left-handed guitarist Man Keedal.
“Within 2 short weeks, our teams worked closely with Naim on getting the line of merchandise out: beginning from the selection on the type of merchandise, the design conceptualisation, a turnkey e-commerce set-up and went into full production.”
“The music video quickly garnered half a million views on YouTube in less than a week – and foray into influencer merchandising hit five figure revenue,” said Kausern proudly.
“Most importantly, we are now able to show that Malaysian content creators can also achieve similar success as those in the USA in this merchandising space.”
Nuffnang in Live Commerce
Live commerce is another area that Nuffnang is focusing on for the benefit of influencers and its own growth. It had been heavily reported in recent months that Nuffnang, in collaboration with its parent company Netccentric and e-commerce ecosystem leader Commerce.Asia, had formed a joint venture agreement to operate a live streaming e-commerce business platform called Nuffnang Live Commerce.
“With this platform strategy, we aim to connect multiple groups – including merchants, influencers and consumers – to create positive network effects,” said Kausern, before expressing his optimism on the growth of the live commerce market.
“Live commerce represents the fusion of e-commerce and livestreaming which centres around influencers showcasing and promoting products and services to viewers. I can almost bet my last dollar that this industry will soar in the years ahead,” added Kausern. “It is a much more enriching online shopping experience compared to traditional e-commerce shopping because, as human beings, we’re deeply rooted to search for social connections especially during times like this.”
“Integrating our influencer, content and e-commerce know-hows, we will be providing end-to-end live video commerce solutions from live video production to payment and product fulfilment. Our technologies, combined with our largest influencer platform and onboarding training, would then empower companies to be independent and self-sustaining as they propel and scale in this fast-growing field of live commerce,” he added.
Looking at the Middle Kingdom for inspiration, Kausern said that live commerce was the game-changer last year for the e-commerce scene, accounting for what he believes to be almost 9% of total estimated e-commerce sales in 2019. “The ballpark figure would be a staggering RMB440bil or 263 billion.”
He also stressed on the priority of creating more relevant pillars in the Nuffnang influencer ecosystem to support its network of influencers.
‘Ssup, Influencers?!’ is another recent addition in the Nuffnang Media pillar. This podcast was founded with the hope of providing a safe space for influencers to be their most raw and authentic self as they share their intimate stories and imparting new perspectives on the influencer industry. This podcast is now available on all major podcast streaming services.
Kausern went on to explain that to handle the scale of dealing with the influencer community, Nuffnang will be introducing more tech tools to improve efficiency and personalization in its influencer journey experience.
“We are constantly innovating. There is a line-up of exciting projects in the pipeline with various resources put in place to empower our community to be better influencers,” concluded Kausern.