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Kausern Hieu, Country Manager of Nuffnang Malaysia

Just recently, I was asked by an industry peer what’s my take on social media marketing for 2021 – What should Brands look out for. He posted me a series of questions.


As I’ve always had a challenge predicting the future, my approach has always been to identify early successes in other continents and countries and ask this question, “Will this work in Malaysia?” 


So, here are my thoughts for 2021.


1. How can Brands stand out from its competitors in 2021?


With the current pandemic situation, I believe Brands should continue to invest in advertising for strategic purposes. Brands that continue to advertise during a crisis will deliver a top-of-mind awareness and lasting impression on its consumers. When the current situation recovers, these Brands will jump ahead of its competitors that were not advertising. 


For example, the recent heavy play of #CheerUpTheWorld #MeetYouLater video ads on YouTube by Korea Tourism Organization made me want to immediately book a flight to visit the country when it’s safe to travel again!  


2. Should Brands invest in influencer and content marketing in 2021? Why? How to determine ROI?


My answer for this question is going to be bias. Nevertheless, I’ll try to answer this question using facts and data. 


Influencer marketing over the last few years has really been a booming industry and will continue to grow. Global advertising expenditure in influencer marketing was worth USD500 million in 2015 and it has then grown to an estimated USD5 billion to USD10 billion in 2020. That’s more than 10x growth! And it will continue its upward trajectory.


In essence, influencer marketing integrates products and Brands into the influencers’ lives which their followers can seek inspiration from. As 83% of consumers say that they trust recommendations from friends and family over advertising, influencer marketing is as close as you can get for Brands to get recommendations from people close to consumers, while still retaining some creative control over the message and audience. 


However, the current challenge that most Brands face is that there is no efficient and effective way of measuring and calculating ROI for influencer marketing. Don’t get me wrong, it works great at the top of the funnel, impacting awareness and engagement for the Brands but it cannot be directly attributed to sales. The good news is that with the rise of influencer-led Live Commerce in this region, Brands can now measure the direct impact of influencers on conversions.


In China, Live Commerce accounted for almost 9% of e-commerce sales in China in 2019, or approximately RMB 440 billion (approx. RM 274 billion)!



3. Which trends across Asia would you recommend Brands to invest in?

  • Due to the pandemic, digital adoption and enhancements from businesses to the everyday consumer will be an all-time high. In short, align your business to digital or at least, semi-digital.  

  • Influencer marketing will continue to soar (Sorry, bias I am)

  • Social commerce and its peripheral businesses. 

  • User-Generated Content will continue to be popular hence Brands should have a place for it in their content mix. Just look at the power of UGC on Tik Tok.


So, let’s see how many I got right in a year’s time when we have to look into the crystal ball again. But for now, here’s wishing you a strong closing for 2020, a well-deserved Christmas holiday and an energized start to 2021!

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