PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian digital landscape is a vibrant tapestry of creativity and influence, populated by approximately 22,500 key opinion leaders (KOLs) vying for the attention of an audience of 32 million.
KOLs are influencers who are perceived to have a stronger authority in their industry.
But the problem lies with the increasing homogeneity amongst the rising pool of influencers, with similar content, promoting the same brands, amidst a background of identical locations and worse, often appearing indistinguishable and almost interchangeable.
With an approximate ratio of 1,500 Malaysians to every influencer in the country, a pertinent question arises: how effective will Malaysian KOLs continue to be amidst these increasing similarities?
Elaborating on the similarities of influencer marketing tactics, Malaysian Advertisers Association president Claudian Navin Stanislaus told StarBiz that duplicative, impersonal one-size-fits-all influencer marketing tactics are losing their lustre, especially with everyone rushing onto the bandwagon.
“Today’s influencers are going to be challenged to portray their unique identity, sculpt a distinct niche, that resonates with their audience and differentiates them from the crowd.
“As we grapple with an overabundance of influencers, the trend of de-influencing has surfaced as a potential game-changer.
“This shift in approach is seen as being uniquely able to position KOLs as credible consultants, not just mere promoters,” he added.
Adopting de-influencing isn’t merely a strategic play, Stanislaus said, noting that it’s a catalyst for trust and credibility.
When influencers are candid about product values, they champion their followers’ welfare, forging a robust, loyal community that values their perspectives, he said.
Influencer Benchmark Report 2023 reveals that 20% of consumers would unfollow influencers who dishonestly appraise a sponsored product, underlining the market’s appetite for honest critiques.
Brands, too, Stanislaus said, have much to gain from this transparent approach.
Aligning with influencers renowned for their honesty and authenticity lends brands an aura of credibility and trustworthiness, he said.
In essence, he said an influencer’s transparency can become a compelling brand asset that reflects positively on the brand’s own values and ethics.
Amidst the evolving landscape, Stanislaus noted that it’s critical to propose industry-backed measures to uphold ethical practices and authenticity too. An industry-recognised “seal of credibility” for influencers could play a pivotal role to this end, he added.
This seal could be awarded to influencers with a track record of truthful, ethical content that aligns with the best practice guidelines as set in the Malaysian Content Code, he said.
Stanislaus said: “Such a seal not only safeguards consumer trust but also fortifies the credibility of influencers, the authenticity of their content and the reputation of the brands they affiliate with.
“Without doubt the key to thriving in Malaysia’s increasingly saturated influencer landscape lies in differentiation, and a strategy rooted in transparency and honesty; such as de-influencing, augurs promise.
“By shifting towards an honest, followers-first strategy, Malaysian KOLs can solidify their unique market position with credibility, simultaneously adding significant value to the brands they represent.
“Coupled with industry-recognised accreditation measures, this new age of influence can propel Malaysia’s KOL ecosystem to greater heights. It’s a win-win situation for the influencers, their followers, and the brands who collaborate with them,” Stanislaus stressed.