Both groups tend to accept that bloggers receive payment or other incentives such as free products in exchange for their support (though this assumption was more pronounced among Millennials), but nonetheless 81% believe that said endorsement reflects a genuine approval and personal experience with the product. The level of trust here is remarkable but understandable, considering the premium fans place on trustworthiness. It seems that loyalty to online “friends” is powerful enough to withstand even apparent conflicts of interest. The strength of that influencer-fan connection means that brands which cater to young audiences should be looking out for influences to work with. They may just be the best way to get ahead.
WHO ARE THAILAND’S INFLUENCERS?
Influencers in Thailand comprise many kinds of online content creators, with the only common denominator being that they have large and loyal followings. Some are native Youtube stars (the favored medium among Thai audiences) who built up their identities making videos and organically attracting subscribers. Others operate on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Many spread themselves wide, maintaining an active presence on all of the above.
While influencers are often bloggers or vloggers, the terms are not synonymous; influencers are specifically those who have amassed enough of a following to make a social and/or economic impact. This may be because they have proven their expertise (or at least experience) in a certain field and are duly respected for it. These specializations take a variety of forms, with the universally popular and eternally photogenic subjects of food and travel at the top. Other segments like beauty, fashion, sports, and video games have large fanbases but tend to be segregated by gender.
Some influencers, however, are stars from the Thai film or music industries who maintain higher than usual social media presence (and popularity). Others are simply trendy social media personalities – “famous for being famous”, as the saying goes. Often influencers specialize in more than one related area; combining food and travel content is as obvious as it is effective.
Many of Thailand’s most popular current influencers established themselves when the social media landscape was relatively sparse, planting roots that enabled them to dominate an increasingly crowded field. These days, aspiring personalities face an uphill battle for the precious resource of audience attention, but the largely youthful scene ensures that it’s not uncommon for new stars to blow up overnight.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD INFLUENCER?
Different demographics respond to influencers differently. Gen Z tend to be hungrier for content, for example, following more people and checking in more regularly than Millennials (perhaps simply because they can, since most are students and not employed full-time). Millennials are more likely to comment on posts, and less likely to buy recommended products without further research, suggesting a more cautious nature.