Q&A: Jerry Soer on Creator Economy Trends That Brands Should Know

To get a more in-depth view of influencer marketing, we recently caught up with Jerry Soer, Head of Southeast Asia & Vice President of Partnerships at Collab Asia. Collab Asia is one of the fastest-growing digital content & influencer marketing agencies in the region having worked with platforms including TikTok, EA Games, and Lazada.

With Gen Zers’ purchasing power valued at $140 billion, brands risk missing out on a huge market if the attention and loyalty of Gen Z us not captured through digital means on the platforms that they most frequent. This is is particularly relevant when considering a McKinsey & Company survey showing that 70 percent of Gen Zers are exposed to new brands via video content.

Over the course of our conversation, Soer talks about creator economy trends, Collab Asia’s focus on reaching the burgeoning Gen Z demographic, how brands can work with influencers, some campaigns he admires, and more.

 
 

What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Web3 of course! I’ve been learning about how blockchain tech will impact the world, specifically looking into the creator economy, gaming, and branding/advertising.

What are some creator economy trends in Southeast Asia that brands should be aware of?

NFTs have really captured a lot of the creator’s imagination in the region. Successful projects such as Karafuru NFTs from Indonesia have proven that local creators are able to launch projects internationally.

On the GameFi side, gaming guilds such as Yield Guild Games and platforms such as Ethlas have shown that Southeast Asia is leading the world when it comes to Play-To-Earn games.

 
 

Collab Asia focuses much of its attention on Gen Z. Why is that and, for the industry in general, do you see other demographic niches developing that will get more attention in the future?

Gen Z are mobile, social media and web3 natives so it’s easier to craft and test campaigns specifically within this subset of consumers. With other generations, there is usually education needed to catch up on the latest trends.

“The key piece of advice is to not rush to quickly issue an apology any time you are being bashed online, especially if you are not in the wrong, or if there is an opportunity to turn the situation into a win.”

There are niches forming around demographic/content vertical pairing. For example; Hamako Mori is the 90-year-old gamer better known as Gamer Grandma. There is a community of older gamers and they have specific preferences to strategy/building games that is distinctly different from younger gamers who prefer action/shooters.

I’ve yet to see this example being done in Asia yet but in the US, there is Retirement House, the old age equivalent of the TikTok Hypehouse. @retirementhouse


@retirementhouse

100% success rate

♬ original sound – Retirement House


Marketers usually want to keep tight control of brand messaging. Considering that influencers often like to put their own spin on the content they produce, how can brands find comfort in a middle ground of sorts when working with content creators?

Brands who have a strong identity of themselves usually can produce very clear briefs on how they want influencers and content creators to collaborate. A recommended process:

  1. Set clear expectations from the collaboration
  2. Source and select creators who match the brand’s values
  3. Allow the creators to craft the right creative that will resonate with their audience
  4. Give clear feedback and guidelines
  5. Hire a specialist agency if you don’t have an experienced in-house team

What are some best practices brands should use and what are some common mistakes they should avoid when working with content creators?

Brands that don’t have an experienced KOL team should work with agencies. Underestimating the complexity of working creators can easily backfire. Especially when it comes to campaigns that are running at scale or across various countries, languages, cultural norms, and platforms, it’s hard to know whether you’re getting value and efficiency from your spending without the pre-existing relationships and knowledge that an agency can bring.

“Brands that don’t have an experienced KOL team should work with agencies. Underestimating the complexity of working creators can easily backfire.”

Avoid too many revisions. If a creator collaboration ends up being too far away from expectation, it’s probably best to pay the project kill fee and move on.

From the creator’s side, Collab Asia has given the advice that “Creators should not immediately rush to apologize”. Can you talk more about that?

Back in August last year, we published a post on the Collab Asia Blog called “Don’t rush your apologies” advising creators on the steps they should take when they face internet backlash. Basically, the key piece of advice is to not rush to quickly issue an apology any time you are being bashed online, especially if you are not in the wrong, or if there is an opportunity to turn the situation into a win. I think that advice still stands in 2022. You can read more about it here:

What are some examples of campaigns you’ve seen recently that have impressed you?

I’m excited that brands have been making their way into the Web3 space and particularly blurring the lines between influencer marketing and/or content and the metaverse. Campaigns that I thought were well executed include:

Samsung Live Shopping Event Hosted by Virtual Influencer

I believe this is one of the first cases of using “virtual influencers” in a live shopping context. For this activation, Samsung tapped “IRL” TikTok creator Liam Kalev as well as the virtual talent, “Zero.” Instead of feeling awkward, the dialogue between Liam Kalev and Zero felt natural and enjoyable to watch.

Walking Dead in the Sandbox Metaverse

This was a great evolution of The Walking Dead which started as a comic book series in 2003 and a popular TV show in 2010, and a great partnership for Skybound (the owner of The Walking Dead IP) and the Sandbox. It has that nostalgia factor and an existing community of fans, and the zombie genre lends itself well to the gaming world. I think the Sandbox is really where we are going to see the metaverse come to life by tapping into these existing fan communities and stories.

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