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The Ultimate Guide to Influencer marketing in Singapore [ Updated for 2019 with Upcoming trends ]

Disclaimer: We have previously written 3 posts on influencer marketing and we have decided to consolidate it with new updates into this mega guide on Influencer Marketing on 15 April 2019

What's in this guide

Introduction to Influencer Marketing

Before you dig into this Comprehensive Marketing Guide on Influencer marketing.

I would like to congratulate you for landing on this page. ????

You are still at the early adoption phase of Influencer marketing and it is vital that you read till the end.

Let me explain the reason why.

Did you know?

Social media marketing would be ordinarily deemed as a peripheral marketing activity years back.

Today it accounts for one of the biggest advertising spend of the fastest growing companies in the world today.

And who were the biggest winners then?

The earliest users of Social Media Advertising where they literally paid cents for thousands of impression.

And there was little competition then because nobody really understood how to do social media.

But soon marketer realise that it's not only about the billboards, TV and radio.

Marketing is a game of capturing attention.

And Social Media advertising became a huge gold rush

Influencer Marketing is a gold rush
You can easily trade a dollar for five back when attention was cheap

And now, marketers all around the world are trying to buy attention.

The Social Media Gold rush for advertising is almost over and the winners have already made their buck.

And it has become increasingly harder to achieve a good return of investment on social media advertising.

But one new contender down the block is showing the same pattern

A sponsored post for Beer Station

The idea that you can pay a user to talk about your product on their own social media.

Where thousands of their fans will engage and spread the word to thousands more.

And the increasing bias algorithm of social media to focus on organic content created by these users so that businesses have to advertise.

These factors are a recipe for a new gold rush.

Influencer Marketing is the new Gold Rush.

Yes you heard me right.

And Influencer Marketing is still really cheap right now.

Especially for influencers who are not under any agencies control.


Because humans have a difficulty pricing themselves.

Influencers in Singapore do not know how to price themselves

They are not sure what kind of attention their profile can provide.

And this provides an opportunity for attention arbitrage.

This means you can easily buy cheap attention as heavily discounted prices.

On top of that, it comes with the bonus of having the validation of the Key-Opinion-Leader and their thousands of engagement for your product.

Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

On top of that, your creative is already handled by the influencer.

Beautiful flatlay of Mulberry Lane

Now let's get into the main reason why you are here.

How to choose the right influencers for your business?

Before you start going on a shopping spree on Instagram.

You have to first understand that the dynamics are really different for influencers.

Some of them have a general audience while some of them have a really niche audience.

Some of them have a HUGE audience, we are talking about 100,000 and beyond.

While some have a relatively small audience of 1,000 to 10,000.

The price tags are different for all of them as well.

Their communication styles are different as well.

Their motivations are different as well.

Here's a more familiar way to see it, you are dealing with business owners that have different services and offerings.

Yes, they are business owners and they dictate their own time and preferences for clients.

So making sure you understand the influencer that you want to engage is half the battle won.

What kind of posts are they okay with.

What kind of products are they not comfortable endorsing.

This may sound like too much to digest for now so let me break it down into 4 steps.

Step 1: Identify your influencer's niche

Before we start our star search for key opinion leaders.

We first have to understand our customers.

Because after all it's their attention that we are after.

What platforms are your customers on, who are they looking at for advice or influence?

Starting from your customers is the most logical first step that any influencer marketing campaign should build upon.

If you are approach by an agency that doesn't start with that.

Not all influencer marketing agencies are good for you
Run away from agencies who don't seek to understand your customers.

Run away.

They are not good for you.

Now that you know where your customers attention is at.

It's time to look at the influencers for these different platforms.

There are bloggers who share their life stories of Dayre

There are Vloggers who create comedy and skits on Youtube.

There are Instagram Models who showcase their lifestyle on Instagram

There are thought leaders who answer questions on Quora.

Influencer marketing does not have to constraint itself within the four walls of Instagram.

The key is to look for a sweet spot between where your customers are at and what subjects these "Key-Opinion-Leaders" are trusted for.

Which influencer is suitable for your niche?
Credits: Pexels

Should you engage a fashion influencer for food reviews?

Probably not.

However, an online clothing shop would have a pretty huge success with the influencer pictured above.

Because she would be an obvious choice for influencing fashion.

Fashion influencers can even set trends for fashion.

That is powerful.

Influencer marketing is a huge proponent for the success of emerging large fashion brands.

A recent example is Daniel Wellington, a watch brand that grew to $200 million by being the early adopters of influencer marketing.

These brands have tapped on this opportunity even before Influencer marketing was a word.

Clearly, the first winners of this gold rush.

So ask yourself, what is your product about?

What is your niche?

Having a clear niche allows you to select influencers with the maximum relevancy to your campaign.

Businesses do not understand this but having your product as a trusted brand on the top of your customer's mind is a potent weapon.

It doesn't matter if the customer buys or not.

The opportunities for word-of-mouth is enormous.

Fans will tell their friends

In short, a sharp influence is deadly.

Don't get excited yet, it's a little tricky with influencers.

Here are common mistakes made for influencer marketing

Choosing an influencer known for your industry's niche but their followers are vastly different.

Bet you already thought of that.

Not all influencers are who they sell themselves to be.

It's an expensive mistake if you choose a female influencer to market cosmetic products to her followers when 90% of them are guys.

You are paying 9 times more for irrelevant attention.

People who would casually blindside your product and just focus on the influencer herself.

As a marketer, let me tell you this.

There is LITTLE VALUE in showing your products to people who are not your potential customers, better yet paying for these impressions.

How do we avoid falling into this trap?

The great news is Influencers can now switch to business accounts to gain access to the demographics of their audiences.

Here are some metrics you can track:

  • Age cluster
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Follower Activities ( Which time and day are followers most active )

These metrics are enough to validate an influencer's reach.

Avoiding Click farms
Are you promoting to click farms?

You can easily see if their followers are from click farms overseas or are they using click baits to attract the wrong kind of following.

Step 2: Locate the Influencers

If you have tried looking for influencers by typing "Influencers in your country".

You will probably be greeted by an outdated list of people, those who are too well-known or irrelevant to your space.

Finding the right influencer is literally the same as looking for a needle in the haystack.

But no worries, here's a few nifty tips on how to find the right one.

One right key-opinion-leader will give you better results than ten irrelevant opinion leaders in your space.

In other words.

You want to spend a lot more time doing the research work.

Locate influencers through hashtags on Instagram

Which hashtag do your influencers reside in instagram?
Locate influencers through hashtags on Instagram

What hashtags is popular in your niche?

Hashtags are the most common way to navigate by categories on Instagram.

Using a single "Singapore influencer hashtag" such as #IGSG may yield results for influencers in Singapore but not in your specific niche.

Filtering through all these people can be tedious and time consuming.

Here's a little time-saver.

What you want to do is search by Double Hashtags, which is not possible on Instagram itself.

This is made possible by 3rd party Instagram analytics such as Mulpix.

With that, using a Hashtag combination such as #IGSG and #VSCOFood turns up Food Bloggers such as @bibikgourmand, Evelyn Chen.

Evelyn perfectly satisfy our requirement as a Great Singaporean Food Influencer with images that make me hungry while writing this post

But what if you are looking for influencers in other platforms?

We are going to use our favourite search engine for this kind of search of course.

If you are looking for "Homeownership" influencers on Dayre.

You can simply type this is your Google Search.

"New home" Site:dayre.com

This pulls up the following results of bloggers that are talking about this topic.

Results on finding singapore home influencers for marketing
If you notice, there are also specialised hashtags for different topics such as #dayrehomes

And the awesome part is Google usually ranks these results by popularity and authority of the blogs.

So you are usually getting the best from the first page.

You can also use this trick for other platforms such as Quora, Youtube and other platforms that you can think of.

Now that we know all the ninja tactics to find these influencers.

Step 3: Evaluate the influencer

Not every Instagram follower is made equal. 

It is unfortunate to say that due to the early preference of the industry paymasters for vanity metrics such as the number of followers and likes.

It is highly likely that every influencer in the market has tried some sort of engagement manipulation tactics to increase their followers.

Well it's not their fault, it's because the businesses don't know better.

Checking out whether a single follower is authentic is easy work.

But checking out thousands of followers? That's impossible by hand.

Here's a simple ground rule that you can use to verify the authenticity on a larger scale.

Just like how cybersecurity experts must learn how to hack before building countermeasures against cybersecurity threats.

Influencers use manipulation tactics to fake engagement
The real face of manipulation

We first have to learn how influencers manipulate their following so we can spot them.

We need to understand these blackhat tactics.

They buy likes

Well the gateway drug to engagement manipulation is buying likes

These days, you can easily buy millions of followers for as little as $20 via online services like Fiverr.

These followers, however, are all fake accounts or spammy bots which dilutes the true reach of an influencer.

The great gods of Instagram, fortunately, have been on a banning spree.

Instagram laying the banhammer.

Their fraud detection system has been deactivating these suspicious bot accounts that are easily spotted by algorithms due to their spammy behavior.

But sometimes the bots are smart.

They manipulate the intervals at which they like profiles.

Some bots even mimic real human behaviour.

So we can't fully depend on Instagram.

Here's what we can do.

Using Instagram analytics marketing tools such as Social blade, we can monitor the statistics of how their followers are increasing over time.

Surprisingly, there's even an article by a local influencer on how to spot the anomaly's which we completely agree with too.

But there are not only bot users that randomly follow accounts.

The influencers use bots themselves

Instagram engagement bots work by using your account to like posts, follow people in order to appear on their notification.

This is in hope that they will visit your profile and follow you back.

While it sounds fine in theory, the main drawback is how the community is driven by vanity metrics.

The bot also works by auto-following people who follow you or like your posts. 

Instagram has become a Follow-for-follows and like-for-likes kind of environment.

It becomes a huge circle of people following each other just because they want a follow back.

While we promote reciprocity, this is bad news for business owners.

The only way to check whether the followers are genuinely interested in the content of the influencer is to check the rate of engagement ( Comments or likes ) for their posts. 

If an influencer has 10,000 followers, a good benchmark for engagement should be more than 5-10% which amounts to 500 people.

You can use Phlanx's engagement calculator to measure that.

Check an influencer's engagement rate with Phlanx
Phlanx gives you an overall view on the engagement rate

Some influencers that regularly engage with their followers tend to get engagement rates higher than that!

Participating in Instagram Rounds or Pods

This is a rather underground technique that some Influencers use to boost engagement on posts to hit the explore page.

"Rounds" is a process where you share your post in the group and everybody in the group will take turns to like each other post to boost engagement.

It can exist as a Telegram or Facebook group, mostly telegram.

An easy way to spot this phenomenon is to cross check with the posts before that and check where the spike actually happened. 

Was the large increase of followers attributed to something viral happening with the influencer?

If not, they are probably manipulating their engagement through these methods.

Now it's probably possible to find an influencer with a totally clean slate but the odds are pretty low.

It is better to work with a threshold that you are acceptable with and accept all influencer within the range.

Now let's go to Step 4

Step 4: Communicate with the influencer

This is really simple.

Treat them like business owners.

Respect their time and mode of communication because, for most of them, it wouldn't cost them an arm of a leg to reject your business.

If you treat them like a commodity and a marketing medium, expect some harsh replies.

Majority of them are not going to jump at your offer just because you are paying them money.

Influencers may reject your offers if they don't like you
Brace for rejection

After all, being an influencer doesn't really entitle them to be an "Open Shop" all the time.

These people have day-to-day lives and jobs to handle and their response may largely differ depending on your offer.

In fact, influencer marketing agencies that are working with a large quantity of influencer struggle with getting influencers to post the exact way.

Treat them respectfully and they will do the same for you.

Shortlist those that you find applicable to your brand and simply send them a direct message with your product details and invite them to discuss further.

Perhaps even direct proposal with your timeline to check whether they are available or not.

You want to focus on building a relationship because often, you will find yourself working with the same influencer over and over again if it is effective.

But not all influencers work solo.

Most influencers would probably be signed under an Influencer management agency.

Some agencies have exclusive agreements.

This means that they act as a middleman for all transactions.

While some may have a less restrictive arrangement with their influencers.

Should you bypass an agency and go to your influencer direct?

If you are working with a few, go direct.

If you are working with more than 10? Choose an agency

Planning a campaign with influencers is not as straightforward due to the "Human element" of this campaign.

Working with a large group of influencer poses the same Human Resource problems that companies face when it comes to setting expectations, coordinating people to do remote work and finally paying them.

It is the same as outsourcing your recruitment process.

When working with multiple influencers, always talk to an agency to circumvent unnecessary troubles from influencer contracts, admin duties, and coordination work - they may even help you with a better campaign angle.

But IF you have to go to an influencer directly..

  • Check if they have signed an exclusive contract with an agency
  • Write out clear contractual terms on the number of posts or type of content to be produced no matter the size of your deal ( Read hereabout a bad case on "Trust" contracts between an influencer and a jeweler )
  • Do your due diligence on their niche, audience demographics and engagement, some may not have the numbers themselves.

Now that communication patterns are out of the way.

Let's talk about money.

How much does influencer marketing costs?

It really varies on who you choose.

There are the Superstar Influencers - people with massive followings of 50k and up.

Singapore Local Influencer Naomi Neo
Naomi Neo has a following of over 431,000 people and appeals to the youths in Singapore

There are also Micro influencers with a much smaller following but still may command the same amount of influence from their audience.

At a glance, it may actually be more cost effective to engage a big pool of Micro influencers due to less "brand markup" and agency management fees that happens with Superstar Influencers.

But which is better for your business?

It largely depends on the optimal amount of credibility or social proof that your business needs.

Here's an analogy.

A hundred smaller billboards scattered along the city or one large billboard in the center of town.

Or if you have the war chest, how about ten large billboards?

The number of Impressions should be similar but the effects are different.

Smaller posts can start as little as $50 per posts.

While Kylie Jenner can make up to $1000,000 per post.

View this post on Instagram

SETTING POWDERS by @kyliecosmetics launching March 7th????

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

The world's youngest "Self-made" billionaire

Yes you read that right. One million.

The next determining factor for price is the Terms of endorsement.

How long does this endorsement last for and to what extent can you use an influencer's brand to market your product?

The longer the validity, the more you pay.

Bigger Influencer managed by their agencies may have stricter brand guidelines to follow when it comes to portraying them in the campaign.

Lastly, how do you compensate an Influencer?

While some may accept sponsored products as compensation.

Influencers get free stuff all the time

The common perception they will see is that you stand more to gain from this agreement than them.

Now this is not to be confused with an influencer genuinely posting about your brand without any incentive on your part.

The latter is genuine while the former is not.

When they see it as favour, you lose control.

When they see it as a freelance gig, you are their client again.

So it is always more sensible and acceptable to compensate them with cash because they may still be taxed on sponsored products anyway.

After all, they will have put in hours and their reputation to produce content to promote your product.

There is real creative work involved in the process.

Even some captions can be comparable with copywriting for advertisements

Last but not least, we have to make sure we stay relevant and with influencer marketing trends.

What's next for influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is changing from just static images to interactive conversations.

These means that the functionalities of influencer marketing go beyond just branding and exposure.

Such an example is the newest features on Instastory which includes polls and questions that opens the opportunity for Market research.

Never before are you able to get an unbiased and qualitative data on your product and brand without engaging a market research agency.

Influencers are becoming full fledge media channels to replace advertisements

Youtube content creators are becoming a more popular choice for brands as these creators quickly become the pillars of a viewers content activity due to how Youtube works.

Brands also have control over the context in which their brand is delivered just like the example below.

Unlike spammy repetitive Youtube advertisements that associate bad feelings with your brand.

Skillshare advertises on the Scishow channel, where avid learners reside.

Instagram is not behind the game either with their launch of IGTV.

Their next contender for mindless video scrolling.

Instagram TV challenges Youtube by empowering influencers with a new channel for expression
Instagram challenges youtube with IGTV

And also with great power comes great responsibility.

This advertising opportunity of a lifetime doesn't last for long.

Expect more regulation to take place in this industry.

What you can or cannot say will soon be limited by authorities.

You can read this article for a better idea on the upcoming laws already in place.

Alright that's it for the Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

If all else fails,

Or perhaps you have an abundance of money and not time.

Talk to an Influencer management company.

These companies often have analytics and demographic data of their influencer audiences.

It will also save you countless manhours prospecting and reaching out to individual influencer to negotiate a fair rate for both parties.

You can expect to pay 30% upwards in terms of management fees.

If you are doing a large scale campaign, coordinating with influencers to keep to campaign specifications can be a nightmare.

Influencer marketing nightmare
Planning an Influencer marketing campaign is a hiring and logistical nightmare

There are so many irrational factors that you cannot control, be it the type of images to post, the wording of the campaigns or the punctuality of your posts.

On top of that, there are logistic problems.

It will be a hassle to individually co-ordinate the collection of your samples or products for sponsored images.

So what you are paying an agency will eventually go into handling the following.

• Database to select influencer and outreach

• Curating the influencer for authenticity

• Campaign design and setup

• Logistic handling and co-ordination

• Payment of influencers

Now the price you pay for their management fees does not seem that expensive after all.

To summarise, if you are engaging a few influencers for a smaller campaign, it's okay to approach them directly.

But if you are dealing with hundreds of micro-influencers, the wiser choice would be to let an agency do the brunt of the heavy work.

You should focus on other distribution channels like Facebook advertising or Instagram advertising to leverage on the buzz created.

We wish you all the best in finding the right Influencer in Singapore to represent your brand!

P.S - Still not sure about influencer marketing? Check out this video by Forbes.

A holistic 360 opinion on Influencer Marketing