How a HK startup matches brands with 'micro-influencers'

September 06, 2018 12:21
Spread-it's founder duo Ng Si-wa (L) and Li Wing-yin. The startup runs a platform matching brands with micro-influencers for marketing campaigns. Photo: HKEJ

In the digital age, brands have begun devoting more time and resources to marketing pitches with help from "influencers", people who can reach large audiences, in particular through social media platforms, to deliver subtle and not-so-subtle product messages.

Other than macro-influencer celebrities (say, Kim Kardashian), brands are turning to the so-called micro-influencers, deeming them as a cost-effective option for marketers on a budget.

Among the entities that are seeking to capitalize on the growing use of micro-influencers is a Hong Kong startup named Spread-it.

Founded by two locals, Li Wing-yin and Ng Si-wa, Spread-it runs a platform matching brands with micro-influencers for marketing campaigns.

Initially, the platform mainly provided on-demand postcards and postal services, helping customers to send postcards. Though the business did not turn out to be successful, it helped the founder duo learn that brands were interested in networks that connect with youth, such as college students.

Li and Ng noticed that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have given rise to a pool of micro-influencers -- in many cases, university students -- looking to make extra money. So they came up with the idea of turning Spread-it into a matching platform for brands and micro-influencers.

After registration on the platform, people interested in getting involved in marketing campaigns will receive updates through Spread-it’s mobile app and telegram channel. They can select and join campaigns they are interested in, and then create posts on Instagram or Facebook. They can cash in rewards via Paypal afterward, depending on the perceived success of their posts.

For brands and marketers, the platform helps recruit and screen suitable micro-influencers for campaigns, which will create the user-generated content on social media platforms, and who will attend marketing events, in exchange for money fee or sponsored products.

According to the startup, it has worked with over 150 brands so far, including Microsoft, MTR, McDonald’s, H&M and Carlsberg.

Currently, there are more than 10,000 micro-influencers registered on the platform. Around 70 percent are university students, with followers on Instagram ranging from 500 to 50,000.

Li believes the platform will be able to expand the micro-influencer base to about 28,000 in this year. The startup will set up a "Spreadian Club" to bring together micro-influencers to co-organize marketing campaigns with brands.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 6

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal