At PARKLU, we get asked a LOT of questions about influencer marketing in China. Besides building an FAQ Wiki, we thought it would be useful to feature the most useful and frequently asked influencer marketing questions and answers.
Q: How much should I budget?
This will vary greatly depending on the scope and goals of the campaign, the time of year, and the type of influencers you want to work with. The type of content you ask them to create and the platforms they will use also make a difference.
Q: How many Influencers do I need for a campaign to be effective?
First, we need to quantify what “effective” means. What are the campaign goals and KPIs?
If your KPIs are tied to awareness, you’ll probably need a handful of large Influencers. If your goals are tied to sales, then the numbers don’t matter as much as the Influencers’ influence and ability to sell.
Furthermore, it’s important to consider your long-term strategy. One “effective” campaign that meets the KPIs might provide a short-term boost for your brand, but the hype will die down as soon as the influencers stop posting. To sustain momentum, it is necessary to consistently engage with influencers – or what we call an “always-on strategy”.
Being “always-on” means engaging with at least 10 influencers a month. These do not all have to be paid projects but, at a minimum, should consist of product seeding.
For better results, work with more 30-50 influencers per month. Again, this could be a combination of paid projects and product seeding, or paid projects and invitations to brand events.
Q: Which platforms should Influencers post on?
This depends entirely on your objectives and whether they are tied to sales, follower growth for brand accounts, or general brand awareness.
You also have to take your industry into account, and what content format is best suited to your objectives.
For example, beauty and healthcare brands should strongly consider Red (Xiaohongshu). Brands trying to reach millennials and Gen Z might want to try Douyin. Those with an engaging brand story could work with a WeChat influencer.
The platform you choose will depend on your brand culture and willingness to experiment. Many brands tend to be conservative and stick with the established platforms like Weibo and WeChat. However, it is definitely worth trying smaller platforms. They tend to be less expensive and it will be easier for your campaign to stand out.
Q: Can Influencers post a link?
In many cases, yes. But linking can be extremely challenging in China and it depends on the social network used and where the traffic is being driven. The place to start is with your e-commerce store. If it is on Tmall, they cannot use WeChat to promote. If JD, they cannot use Weibo. These are just two examples.
While links can be included in a WeChat article, the options are limited. Furthermore, true affiliate tracking can only be done with a WeChat Mini Program. In other words, you will not be able to track individual users with a cookie in WeChat’s native browser.
Weibo, on the other hand, has much stricter link rules. If a link within a post does not go to an Alibaba e-commerce site, the post’s “weight” will be negatively impacted and its organic reach will drop. Only Taobao and Tmall sales conversions can be affiliate tracked and natively integrated into an influencer’s post.
Adding a link to a post on Meipai will force you to run the campaign through Meipai’s ad network. Meipai’s ad network will charge you at least 30% of what you paid the influencer to post the campaign. Weibo also has a similar type of ad network that can only be bypassed if a link is not added and there is no @ of the brand’s Weibo account. Otherwise, there can be a fee up to 100% of what you pay the influencer.
For these reasons, even if it possible to include a link, it might be easier and more cost-effective not to.
Q: What do I need for a good campaign brief?
At the minimum, a campaign brief should include:
- An intro to the campaign.
- Which brand or product is it for?
- Goals and content for the campaign.
- Do you want to drive sales or generate awareness?
- What results are you looking for from the influencer?
- What type of content should the influencer create?
- Video, photo, live stream, or written?
- Which platforms should they use?
- Campaign mechanisms.
- If the campaign is sales-oriented, where will the product be sold?
- Will there be a discount code or a special link?
The campaign brief isn’t a way to control the influencer. Instead, a useful summary empowers the influencer to work creatively. It provides influencers with resources to start conversations about you and your brand.
Answering these questions is a great place to start. However, the best campaign briefs go further. They outline clear content dos and don’ts that help influencers understand what the brand has in mind, without micromanaging and stifling the influencer’s creativity.
Learn more about writing a good campaign brief here.
Q: What are best practices for influencer campaigns?
Find the right influencers:
The foundation of a successful influencer marketing campaign is to find the right influencers whose content and style is a good fit for your brand, who have the right target audience, and who have the proven ability to influence their audience.
Do not choose an influencer solely on the number of followers they have or their popularity. Just because they are a good fit for one brand doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you.
Have a strong campaign brief:
The majority of fatal influencer marketing problems happen when brands and influencers don’t communicate clearly via the campaign brief. This is true all over the world, but for Western companies working with Chinese influencers, the stakes are higher due to language barriers, cultural differences, and a unique social media and e-commerce ecosystem.
Ideally, whenever you collaborate with an influencer, you should provide a campaign outline with everything from basic info to detailed content requirements. Campaign briefs might seem like a lot of effort up-front, but they prevent headaches in the long run.
Many influencers started building monetize-able communities around themselves well before content marketing became the standard go-to strategy for digital marketing specialists. And they’re effective because they provide content that’s not about themselves. They know how to provide value.
As is the case with employees anywhere, it’s better to empower influencers to work creatively than to tell them specifically what to create. This means providing influencers with the resources to start conversations you and your brand are a part of. In other words, be the enabler of conversations. Give people something positive to talk about your brand. Seriously, no one but you cares if they don’t quote your motto correctly.
As long as the conversation is genuine and impacting your target customers in a positive way, and your brand is seen in a positive light, you are winning.
After investing significant time and energy into executing a campaign, you’d be surprised by the number of brands and agencies that do not follow up with the influencer afterward.
This leaves many influencers left hanging, wondering, did the brand like my work? Did I help them meet their goals? Would they consider working with me again? Especially if the influencer put a great deal of effort into creating high-quality content, this lack of follow-up can be disheartening and leave a bad taste in their mouth, making them less eager to work with you again in the future.
Smart brands know that building reciprocal, long-term relationships with influencers that perform well is the way to go.
Q: What are the key differences between PARKLU and other competitors in the market? What reach do you have with influencers and in which markets across APAC?
PARKLU is China’s largest cross-border influencer marketing platform. The vast majority of our clients are large multinational corporations like L’Oreal, Macy’s, the NBA, or large international ad agencies using our platform for clients like Apple. PARKLU is China’s only curated influencer database. Only influencers that reach our follower, engagement and quality standards are invited to join or are accepted via an application.
PARKLU is the only platform that provides a fully-functional Influencer Analytics tool. We are also the only fully bilingual platform with all-bilingual account managers. Our focus is 100% China. We do provide influencer support in Hong Kong via Instagram. We have influencer marketing partners that support the rest of APAC and the world.
At PARKLU, we also produce more bilingual influencer marketing content than anyone. We publish Daily Insight infographics, weekly Blog articles, sponsor a weekly Podcast, monthly Vlog videos, monthly Industry Reports, annual KOL Catalog, create free tools like the KOL Budget Calculator, and publish brand campaign Case Studies. We work extremely hard to develop transparency in the market and provide actionable resources for our clients and non-clients alike.
Q: How famous should the Influencer be?
To determine the size of Influencers you should work with (in terms of follower count), you must gauge your brand’s reputation in China currently. For example, are you just entering the market, or have you already been available in China for a while? Is your brand new, or are you well-established?
Contrary to general belief, new China market entrants should initially spend a large portion of their marketing budgets to collaborate with top-tier influencers. These influencers can instantly bring credibility and awareness to your brand, both among consumers and other smaller Influencers. Once they have heard of your brand, it will be easier to engage with mid-tier and micro-influencers on a large scale. This will make product seeding more effective.
Q: Can PARKLU help with being able to see how engaged their audiences are?
Yes. There are a few ways to visualize engagement. We have an Influencer Analytics tool, which allows users to see engagement by brand and keyword. The time frame, social networks, and value can be broken down and altered within Influencer Analytics. This will also allow users to see top performing posts and influencers. This same tool can be used to track competitors’ performance or benchmark across your industry. With our Influencer Search Engine, users can access individual Influencer Profiles that provide historical engagement data across all platforms. From Influencer Profiles, you can then access their posts directly or search for specific brand mentions.
Q: Can we see how many clicks they drive for us to assume they would convert well?
Our ROI performance data is limited to influencers we have collaborated with in the past and is only available to full-service clients. Note, performance-based campaigns are very rare in China.
Q: Can an influencer review or recommend a product and promote it to their audience using links on their blog and social channels?
First, blogs are extremely uncommon in China. Essentially, 100% of our influencers only post on social media. Second, linking can be extremely challenging in China. The place to start is with your brand’s e-commerce store. If it is on Tmall, they cannot use WeChat to promote. If JD, then they cannot use Weibo. And so on. The overall strategy is largely determined by where the brand sells online.
Q: We have a luxury client that has set aside USD $5-7K to spend on influencer fees. Is this a realistic starting budget for us to get 5+ influencers involved in a campaign?
We are going to assume you need our influencer marketing agency team to provide full-service. Full-service is $2K + 15% of influencer promotion spend, which would leave you with about a $4.5K budget for influencers. This is a very small budget for a one-off influencer marketing campaign in China unless it’s part of an ongoing strategy. It’s especially tough because you are looking for influencers that are appropriate for a luxury brand. Typically, with this budget, you should be able to work with 1-3 mid-tier influencers (depending on platform), or 4-10 micro-influencers. However, because it is a luxury client, it really depends on the influencer expectations.
Q. How can we see PARKLU performance data in order to advise our clients?
We have a few potential solutions.
First, we provide brand awareness tracking across social media, e-commerce, and Baidu. This will give the brand a more holistic view of a campaign’s organic impact. Brand awareness tracking starts at $500 USD.
Second, we provide SEO/SSO/ESO for WeChat, Weibo, Baidu, Sogou, and others. This Influencer content search optimization strategy can turn the social media awareness adrenalin shot into a long-term inbound engagement play. We also guarantee first page rank on Baidu or the client doesn’t pay. SSO/SEO/ESO services start at $2,000 USD.
Finally, if your client works with larger influencers, we could show the trickle-down effect by showing increased organic posts from smaller influencers. It is very common for large influencers to be copied by smaller influencers.
Q: Are you transparent with the selection of influencers before proceeding with campaigns? Can an agency or brand choose to swap influencers if we feel someone is not the right fit?
Yes. We provide a list of recommended and inbound influencer applications, and you can pick.