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This Malaysian Start-up Will Help You Get the Best Influencers

SushiVid’s founder gives tips for Southeast Asian brands

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 12 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Yuhwen Foong was once an aspiring actress who struggled to make her big dreams come true.

“I was dangling at the end of the food chain, going for dozens of castings, but getting no call backs and worst of all getting consistently low pay for all the effort I put in. I just wanted to land a good gig but I also had to deal with all the logistical nightmare of following up on jobs and my payment from different agencies,” Foong recalls.

Foong later shelved her creative ambitions and decided to pursue a career in the world of technology and start-ups. Here, she can “take control of [her] own destiny” and make a real difference.

In November 2015, she launched SushiVid, a Malaysian B2B marketplace that connects brands to Asian influencers for branded content sponsorships. “With bitter memories of my creative years lingering, I wanted to be sure that the influencers offering their services on our site would not fester without pay as I did. I also wish that they could manage all their proposals, job hunt, check up on their job statuses all in one place,” she says.

Connecting with Influencers

Brands are constantly looking for ways to get more traffic into their site, but they often lack creative ideas on how to capture specific audiences—something that influencers have down pat. SushiVid helps brands find, hire, and work with Instagrammers, YouTubers, and bloggers.

Influencers no longer have to customize their media kits or send out emails to brands one by one. With SushiVid, they can look for and manage all their sponsorships in one platform.

The platform works like this: A brand creates a brief with all the requirements; influencers receive the announcement and those interested would submit a one-paragraph proposal; the brand sees the proposal along with the influencer’s analytics; the brand chooses influencers, and content is created.

Today, the company has paid out over RM350,000 or roughly $80,000 to influencers and has generated over 500 branded content pieces on Instagram, YouTube, and blogs. Its biggest clients include Digi, Watsons, Lazada, Huawei, and Universal Music, among others.

But how can Southeast Asian brands best work with influencers? Foong offers the following advice:

1. Always be clear

“Be very clear about what you want,” Foong says. Content is subjective, she adds, and the more detail you provide, the less room there is for error.

“Most of the time, brands wouldn't know what they don't know, which is the hard part,” Foong says, adding that SushiVid is full of downloadable resources that could help improve communication between influencer and brands.

2. Give the influencer creative freedom

Influencers have authority in their respective fields because their followers trust them. And you should, too.

“Try not to impose strict rules the way you do to creative agencies. Try to give them as much freedom as possible to share the content the way they want to, you'd be surprised at how much better it gets when they do it their way,” Foong suggests.

3. Test out different influencers

Before jumping into one huge campaign with a major influencer, Foong suggests spreading “your eggs into multiple baskets.”

She says, “This is where SushiVid comes to play - we have a huge pool of long-tail influencers to choose from. Try 10 smaller influencers, with different audiences, different types of content and when you truly find a formula that works for your brand, double down on it. You could also track the results [on the platform].”

4. Pick an influencer who believes in your brand

Foong says the key to finding the right influencer is to look for one that genuinely believes in your product. Take the time to do research and find out which products or services he or she actually uses. If it is one of yours, then the next step is to determine if his or her audience is right for your brand. If it is, then voila – you’ve found your match!