In Hong Kong, Influencer Marketing is exploding and key opinion leaders are prized by brands. The main reason is because influencers have the power to persuade and affect the buying decisions of people. The way consumers discover and consume content has greatly evolved throughout the years. Majority of them are no longer interested in ads.
They now turn to social media as they prefer learning about a product through authentic content reviews and recommendations from the KOLs they follow. But how did this begin?
The digital transformation in Hong Kong and the whole Asia has led to an upsurge in demand for online marketing and advertising services. According to the latest survey by HKAA, Hong Kong’s 100 major marketers plan to spend 51% of budget for digital marketing—this is where influencer marketing enters. With the rise of social media and the internet, KOLs in Hong Kong have managed to cut through the noise and break barriers. Aspiring and creative individuals often have the potential to become influential in their own niche. With a mix of trend-driven topics and creative styles to keep people inspired, each KOL truly has something valuable to bring to the table—and brands are very much aware of this.
But despite the glamour and fame, living the life of a KOL is not easy. People often only see the well-curated pictures and attention-catching captions, but behind the facade are long hours of pure hard work and dedication—something that brands and businesses should recognize.
AlphaConcepts, a data-driven marketing platform based in Hong-Kong and founded by former model and reality TV star Irish Ong, interviewed some of Hong Kong’s top and upcoming KOLs to discover what hides behind every post, and get a sense of influencers’ experiences with brand collaborations
- The Lifestyle Aficionado: Noel Li | @no3I
“Lifestyle is a way in which a person lives.” says Noel Li, an HK-based KOL. Noel didn’t plan on becoming an influencer. It just happened that a watch brand nominated him to become one and started the touch base of it. He considers himself a stand-alone influencer because he takes his own photos by using his bare hands or setting up a tripod. Majority of the contents he’s posting are from his own life experiences.
It’s quite a tough place to be in especially when one has a daytime job outside of being an influencer. For Noel Li, managing time between the two is just easy as his work schedule is flexible. But when asked about the biggest problem he ever faced, it’s “not knowing what to post.” It can be shallow for some, but these influencers are making a living out of this.
In a very demanding industry, it’s important for them to stay active on social media all the time, even on days when they’re not working with a brand.
Another challenge he experienced is having to deal with brands who isn’t clear with their campaign goals. For Noel Li, brands should give clear instructions to influencers in order for everything to commence properly. Because of that, he found an opportunity to work with an influencer marketing platform because “it’s very convenient for both brands and influencers.”
As of now, he only runs one social media platform. According to Noel, “running a social media platform is tiring sometimes.” But even then, being online for him is a gift as “social media is one of the biggest trends to connect brands, influencers and your target audience.”
Working with brands is something that he truly loves as aside from having the privilege to represent a product, he also sees it as a way to make friends.
- The Digital Nomad: Moanna S. | @moannaxdessire
“Focus on creating good content. Be creative, influential & fun-loving!”
These are the good qualities of a KOL, according to Moanna.
Moanna started her career by posting well-curated photos of food on Facebook. Years passed, she realized she didn’t want to spam her friends’ newsfeeds so she switched to Instagram. As a woman with big dreams, she managed to build her presence and got the attention of small and big brands.
But just like any other influencer, staying on top of the minds of followers and clients can be pretty challenging. For Moanna, aside from keeping the audience engaged and interested, time is the biggest opponent. As a freelance digital marketer, it’s quite hard for her to find the balance between the two. Most of the time, she would edit her influencer-related contents when she’s commuting to and from work. Fortunately, she now knows how to manage her time without getting burnout.
When working with brands, Moanna assures that she has a say in everything. She lets the brand communicate their orders, but she still tries to put her own twist as she wants to “focus on creating good contents.” She’s very confident with her craft and that’s the reason why she’s prized by brands.
Moanna hopes that more influencers will be given a chance to collaborate with brands just like what she’s experiencing right now.
- The Fashion Juggernaut: Alvin Chan | @alvinctchan
“I believe our reach to specific targeted niche audiences is the most valuable to brands and businesses.” says Alvin Chan.
As a photographer and a model, he already knows what the audience wants.
In July 2017, Alvin Chan got signed to Liberté Models HK and started his modeling stint. Prior to that, he was a photographer actively posting photos on his photography account. Because of his hard work, he started getting recognition here and there. He usually posts photos and videos on his photography page, whereas on his personal/modeling account, the posts are usually from his portfolio or shots from when he worked with photographers.
Months passed, he went through the influencer’s block: he struggled in producing interesting contents and finding the right brands to work with. When he joined an influencer marketing platform, it became easier for him to collaborate with brands in a much straightforward, hassle-free method–something that majority of influencers are looking for!
Alvin Chan considers himself an Instagram-based KOL, but he’s looking into starting a Youtube channel in the future–so stay tuned!
- The Versatile Fashionista: Ruby Fung | @fungyungyung
Ruby Fung is a fashion designer/columnist/influencer who used to intern as a reporter. To cut the long story short, her internship days became a way to get to where she is today. Back then, she would only set up her tripod to take photos she will post online. On other days, she would ask her friends to take photos of her. Years passed, she now gets to work with different photographers.
Ruby Fung’s perseverance opened a lot of doors for her to express herself in fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Aside from her photography skills, her ability to write also paved way for her to be trusted by massive number of brands in Hong Kong. She has this amazing way of influencing her followers through the photos and captions she’s posting. When it comes to working with brands, she’s always open to accept any instruction for as long as it fits her niche, image and rate.
She enjoys being a KOL. Aside from it being her passion, she also treats it as an opportunity to meet people from different walks of life. But she also considers it as a tough job: “You need to have your own vision, your own point of view. And this is crucial for building a strong image of yourself.”
In addition to being an influencer, she also does freelancing on the side. Her dream is to start her own design label in the near future.
- The Dapper Model: Kam Wai Suen | @kam852
Kam Wai Suen has been modelling for four years in Hong Kong. “
I think being a model and an influencer is a good combo since it’s pretty related.” he said.
A lot may think that it was just that easy for him to be a KOL since he’s a model, but that’s actually not true. His journey to becoming one hasn’t been easy.
Many years ago, he would go to different social events to introduce himself to potential clients—he basically fought for where he is right now. His hard work paid off anyway as he now gets to work with a variety of brands in Hong Kong.
But there are also problems that he has experienced including being taken advantage by brands.
For Kam, brands should be wary about the hardships of influencers as it’s not an easy job to take. Having a constant communication between them should be mandatory in order to be open about concerns and assigning of tasks.
Kam treats his power in social media to get to know more people, improve his skills in editing and “feel more confident in front of the camera.”
- The Stylish Traveler: Lily Wong | @lily_wong_0703
We can say that Lily Wong started from scratch as she became a KOL by sharing personal contents via different online platforms with no expectations.
She dabbles on different niches like food, fashion, travel & beauty. She takes photos on her own, and does it with her friends whenever they hang out.
Lily Wong strongly believes in work-life balance that’s why she always prefer doing something fun (like being an influencer) out of her daytime job.
For her, it can be challenging to deal with the posting schedule and communicating with clients because she travels around the world.
In a fast-paced industry, she struggled to keep up with the demands of the brands. Good thing is that she found an influencer marketing platform like AlphaConcepts to make everything easy for her. For Lily Wong, the platform allows her to “explore plenty of valuable information which you might not know before.”
Aside from Instagram, she is also active on livestreaming channels like 17 & 8attle.
- The Trendy Actor: Nathan Starwalker | @nathanstarwalker
Nathan Starwalker used his power and fame to be a KOL. If there is one thing that he loves the most, it is working with restaurants as he is a foodie himself. Majority of his Instagram posts are videos and advertising portfolios.
Nathan is a model, an actor and an influencer. While it can be stressful to handle three jobs at the same time, he manages it pretty well. According to him, “it’s all about setting your priorities.”
Nathan has been in the industry for years, so he also struggled to stay relevant as there are way more creative and famous people out there. But Nathan is passionate and knows how to focus on his brand commitments. That’s probably the reason why he’s still thriving up until now.
When he works with a brand, he prefers to have a meeting first regarding a campaign. He listens to what the brand wants, but as much as possible, he also tries to give his inputs in order for him to express his creativity.
From campaign planning to execution, Nathan is there.
Influencer marketing is all about collaboration, and this is something that brands and influencers should take note of.
THOUGHTS TO KEEP IN MIND:
- An influencer doesn’t just chill all day and make big money. Everyone works hard to get to where they are. If anything, they earned that spot to represent a brand because of their persistence and determination.
- For brands looking to work with influencers, be wary of their schedule and always be open to communicate concerns.
- More and more brands are working with influencer marketing platforms to easily connect with real and verified KOLs.
- Being an influencer is a modern type of job that should not be underestimated by outsiders. Brand and influencers don’t just work for nothing, they both foster goodwill for each other.
- It’s vital for brands and influencers to be open about suggestions. Keywords: MEET HALFWAY!
- Influencer marketing is the future: and the future is now!