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Building a successful KOL marketing strategy in Southeast Asia

Rapidly increasing internet users, a soaring digital economy, and a massively untapped demographic —are just some of the advantages that make Southeast Asia an emerging hot spot for mobile marketing and coveted by countless developers and brands.

The Southeast Asian market: Rapid growth with no limits

Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world adding 40 million internet users in 2021 alone. Meanwhile, the tech space is booming and with it an influx of capital. Specifically, eCommerce in Southeast Asia is growing at a fast pace with fintech, healthcare, and education also making strides.

As many now know, a local presence is a major key to success. A brand or app’s ability to provide truly localized marketing channels and strategies will lead to higher levels of client satisfaction and retention.

Understanding ad formats and customer preferences go a long way with a localization strategy. A notable change in online marketing in SEA particularly is the shift away from hard-sell in-feed ads toward more content-focused soft-sell ads. This is why Nativex has been working so heavily with KOL marketing, advanced creatives, and more integrated marketing approaches to help advertisers grow.

KOL marketing has become a must in SEA

Strictly speaking, KOLs are different from influencers in the general sense in that they have their skills and can produce their brand of content. KOLs have access to a massive audience, measured in the hundreds of millions, which makes KOLs a powerful marketing tool to acquire users and achieve growth. To succeed though it is important to first look at the major media platforms and user preferences in each Southeast Asian country.

In Indonesia, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook are the most used media platforms. Meanwhile, the likes of TikTok and Pinterest are also gaining traction. Vietnam has more social media users than most countries in the world which makes Facebook the dominant social media platform in the country, followed by the local instant messaging app, Zalo. Again, TikTok is gaining users quickly and has huge growth potential in Vietnam. Thailand, too, is a major market for TikTok with Thai users being defined as brand loyal and creative.

In Singapore and Malaysia, two countries with large English-speaking populations, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms (in that order) with TikTok fast in pursuit. 

In Southeast Asia, KOL marketing accounts for a growing share of local companies’ marketing budgets, with TikTok seen as the gold standard for ROI. Whether it is to promote products or drive brand awareness, KOL marketing has become a must and it is especially effective when it comes to building word of mouth.

In general, if you wish to do KOL marketing in Southeast Asia, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube tend to be your best choices as the trio covers 96% of Southeast Asian internet users. KOLs on these platforms will help gain product exposure and drive word of mouth and conversions.

User-generated content

TikTok, one of the most popular short video platforms in the world, has a massive and diverse user base. Part of the TikTok Ads offering is Spark Ads which leverage branded content posts, similar to what you might see on Instagram. Combined with the power of influencers, it’s a promising format to drive traffic and increase sales.

With the right marketing strategy viral, user-generated content (UGC) is extremely valuable on TikTok and a major reason that KOL marketing has been so effective. UGC lends itself to an organic aesthetic which TikTok exemplifies and is something new advertisers to the platform sometimes misread by promoting hard-sell ads that are highly commercialized. We suggest tailoring creatives to local culture and to preserve a KOLs own UGC styling. For example, organically-styled content for Vietnamese users or narrative-driven, sentimental content for Thai users.

If you’re interested in achieving tangible ROI in Southeast Asia, then make sure you download your free copy of our ebook today!

Free Ebook: APAC Market Spotlight: Southeast Asia

Looking for more free ebooks? Then make sure to check the Nativex Ebooks section for more in-depth, quality content designed to help your marketing strategies generate visible returns.

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