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Social Media Influencers Earn RM5k - RM6k per Post. Confirm Ah?

Updated 28 Nov 2019 – By Nisya Aziz



Almost everyone has a social media account - from sekolah rendah kids to grandmothers - some pets have accounts too, you know. If you don’t have one, then people will start to question, “What? How come? Then what do you do during free time?”.



Based on Hootsuite and We Are Social recent report, Malaysia was ranked top 5 globally and highest in Southeast Asia for mobile social media penetration. It’s also reported that 80% of internet users in the country spend a daily average of 8 hours and 5 minutes online! Yup, this is the world we live in today, people.

That’s why lah a lot of businesses moving into the digital landscape to penetrate the market and make monies. Plus, with the rise of social media, it has also created a legit job called social media influencer (a.k.a key opinion leaders). And apparently, it’s not just glamorous and fun, you can make a lot of moolah too, just by posting pictures and videos. Sounds easy, right?



We wanted to know how true this is, so we had a chat with SushiVid’s CEO, YuhWen Foong, about this particular industry in Malaysia. We also engaged with some of the influencers in Malaysia to share their experiences and thoughts.
 

First, what is a social media influencer and what are the criteria to be one?



Most social media gurus shared that a social media influencer is a person who has a following in a particular niche (like lifestyle, travel, fashion, food, beauty, art and more), which he/she/they actively engage with. 



We also found out that there are actually 5 tiers of influencer (don’t play-play k):
  • Nano-influencers: 1,000 - 10,000 followers
  • Micro-influencers: 10,000 - 50,000 followers
  • Mid-tier influencers: 50,000 - 500,000 followers
  • Macro-influencers: 500,000 - 1,000,000 followers
  • Mega-influencers: 1,000,000 followers and above


Sushivid's CEO, Yuhwen Foong 

Meanwhile, Yuhwen shared that social media influencers are people who influence others. She added, “Usually, they have a following of more than a certain number to qualify. On SushiVid, it varies by country and by social media platforms. For example, 3,000 followers on Instagram is considered a micro-influencer in Malaysia whereas, in Indonesia, you’ll fall under the same category even if you have 50,000 followers on the same platform.”


So, how do social media influencers make money?



Yuhwen shared that these people make money using these straight forward metrics:
  • Cost per post: This is the most common way. They get paid for every content they create (blogs, photos and videos) and upload it on their platform. This is inherited from the blogger days.
  • Cost per share: This is when they don't make the content, but they get paid for sharing content.
  • Cost per sale: This is when influencers get paid for every item sold (like a commission) thanks to their recommendation.


But, how do they determine how much to charge?



We tried to ask some influencers but no one gives a straight answer…. So, after reviewing countless (okay, this is an exaggeration) of social media plans from agencies, we’ve concluded that there’s no 'ONE PRICE FITS ALL' - quite similar to advertising in general.

And, we wish the answer was just as simple as 2+2=4, but NOPE. Most experts said that your pricing depends on:
  • The number of followers and fans you have
  • The number of engagement your posts generally garner
  • The number and type of posts you’re creating
  • The amount of effort needed from you 
  • The placement of the content (e.g. where will it be promoted?) 
Additionally, some of the industry insiders also said that most newbies (nano-influencers) will charge around RM100 to RM300 per post. When their followings grow, they can demand more lah. But bear in mind, even if the rates have been set, things can change once you engage with clients. Sometimes they already have a budget in mind, so you have to work around it. At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether to accept it or not.



According to Yuhwen, an influencer can earn RM5,000 to RM6,000 or more per post.

She shared: “If you're an influencer with 800,000 followers on Instagram, with high engagement rate, you could command that OR if you're a YouTuber with 50,000 views, you could command that per video too.

“The likelihood of influencers making this depends on the effort they need to put in for the posting, the quality of their content, and their engagement with the audience.” 


Having said that, there are some instances where social media influencers don’t get paid tau. However, they’ll get to enjoy freebies from the brand instead. All they have to do is use the products and publish a picture on their social media accounts to help promote the brand in return - it’s like a barter system lah.


"Okaylah, admin is not qualified. K fine."

If you’re still scratching your head about what’s the right price or not sure where to start, you can check out this tool by the Influencer Marketing Hub called the Instagram Money Calculator (refer above image). It’ll give your earning potential per post based on your engagement and number of followers. Remember, this only act as guideline k.

 

Okay, what’s the future of influencer marketing in Malaysia? Will the trend dim anytime soon?

Well, according to the Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report 2019, the engagement rate has seen a decline of 1.5% to 3.5% across all verticals (travel, beauty, fashion, food, lifestyle, and sports and fitness) when compared to figures in 2018. This is based on the average benchmarks of the audience quality grade, like follower ratio, and engagement rates for sponsored and non-sponsored posts.



On top of that, the study also found that Malaysia had one of the lowest audience quality benchmarks (at 31.2%)  among the countries studied, including our neighbours, Indonesia (51.3%) and Thailand (37.9). This is mostly caused by fake accounts.

That aside, Instagram is also currently testing a design tweak that no longer shows the total number of “likes” other users’ posts had received. We asked Yuhwen if this will affect social media influencer to ‘shine’ if it was to implement in Malaysia. 

Optimistically, she answered: “I believe it will definitely change the way influencers monetize and it's a good thing. Personally, I feel that our younger generation is bombarded with all this pressure to be ‘liked’ and as a human living in this era, this move is good for our society. And, when something is changing for the better as a whole, it will be better for the industry as well.

“For the influencers, they will survive, they just need to find other ways to monetise or measure their performance. For example, creating competitions where the audience has to engage in some way or get paid by sales rather than likes and comments. It’ll change but only for the better. I am supportive of this move by Instagram.”

She also mentioned that influencer marketing will shift to more China platforms rather than US platforms. For example, TikTok or Lazada Live. Additionally, passive content like podcasts or something we consume while commuting will also be on the rise. And, another thing that influencer can venture into is LIVE streaming which will become popular over time.



Think you have what it takes to be an influencer? Here’s what some of the “influencers” shared:


1. Suhaili Micheline | Dance Artiste

A trained dancer and performer, Suhaili is the director of Aurora School of Dance, Malaysia’s premier dance school built to foster excellence in students by providing a rigorous, diverse and nurturing environment. She’s also the brand ambassador for Under Armour Malaysia, Sanctband Global and Parklife Restaurant. That aside, Suhaili will be opening her new studio called ‘Barre-d’ to the public in 2020  to promote dance and holistic fitness influenced by ballet, contemporary and pilates.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Suhaili Micheline (@suedanza) on

Loanstreet (LS): How did you become a social media influencer and what drives you to be one?
Suhaili:
I don’t see myself as an influencer and wasn’t striving to be one. But, I acknowledge the fact that what I share on social media can make an impact. Most of my posts are about dance, fitness and positivity in general. And, I believe that brands which I've collaborated shared the same vision and value as I do. 

LS: People usually say that social media influencers make a lot of money. Is it true? 
Suhaili:
Not necessarily. This depends on how you position yourself to the brands. Some brands don’t have the budget and will exchange it with products, which is fine if it’s a brand that I believed in. I can use them (the products) to give back to the community.

LS: This question is a sensitive one - how much money do you roughly make annually as a social media influencer. Is it sustainable?
Suhaili:
Just enough to make extra money. I still have other businesses on the side to sustain my life financially - this is more of a side gig to me.

LS: Can you name one perk and downside of being a social media influencer?
Suhaili:
The best part is to work with brands is that they allow me to continuously give back to the community by training and supporting young talents at the grassroots level. The not so good part is, sometimes brands will hinder your creativity autonomy when it comes to how you want to present the content and engage with your followers.

LS: What’s your advice to those who are looking to be a social media influencer for financial gain?
Suhaili:
I’d say find your niche, create a content strategy, always provide values and be consistent. Also, being an influencer isn’t something that you should be counting on, but it’s great if you’re looking to make extra bucks on the side. 



2. Sean Lee | Actor, Host & Content Creator

Also known as Sean LJE, you’ve probably seen him in some of Youtube videos before. He also acted in local tv dramas such as ‘Keluarga Pontimau’, ‘My Coffee Prince’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ and hosted ‘I Can See Your Voice Malaysia Season 2’. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SEAN LEE (@seanlje) on


LS: How did you become a social media influencer and what drives you to be one?
Sean:
I don’t consider myself an influencer. I’m an actor and my followers came from my acting. Agency just associates my follower count as if I started as a social media influencer.

LS: People usually say that social media influencers make a lot of money. Is it true? 
Sean:
Nah, it depends on how you position yourself and how you market yourself. 

LS: This question is a sensitive one - how much money do you roughly make annually as a social media influencer. Is it sustainable?
Sean:
Enough for you to survive (priced reasonably).

LS: Can you name one perk and downside of being a social media influencer?
Sean:
Perks - you get free stuff. Downside - most brands don’t pay. 

LS: What’s your advice to those who are looking to be a social media influencer for financial gain?
Sean:
Be genuine with your work. Most influencers these days are just fame-hungry and seeking attention. Be honest in what you do or when you review products. Don’t just do it for fame. It’s shallow haha.

 

3. Sivagami Selvarajan | Performing Artist

She is a dancer who specialises in two forms of Indian classical dance; Odissi and Bharatha Natyam, as well as trained in ballet. A lover of sarees, art, fashion and everything colourful, Sivagami also leads the @sareeonmovement on Instagram with #keepcalmandsareeon hashtag that went viral in 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sivagami Selvarajan (@sivagami___) on


LS: How did you become a social media influencer and what drives you to be one?
Sivagami:
I’ve been using Instagram since 2012 and it took me 4 years to understand its potential to be a platform to put my artistic work out there and get paid for it. I’m a performing artist, I wouldn’t call myself an influencer because influencers are people who are experts in their chosen field and they have a niche crowd who follow them for proper reviews/ suggestions. What drives me to be on social media is, I get to be myself, share my artistic works and other things I am passionate about with people who find me relatable. However, I’m fully aware that I still fall under the category of influencer marketing when I work with brands and to me, it's just a bonus. If I like the brand and I know I would consume their products or their vision and mine are similar, I would accept the offer.

LS: People usually say that social media influencers make a lot of money. Is it true? 
Sivagami:
 I do know influencers and content creators who make a lot of money. The reason is quite simple, I think. The bigger the following, the more you get paid. There’s no fixed rule to the charges. It depends on the individual on how they quote their charges. It can be based on the number of following, engagement rate, etc. If you create content full time and have brands that want to work with you continuously, I believe you can earn a lot. 

LS: This question is a sensitive one - how much money do you roughly make annually as a social media influencer. Is it sustainable?
Sivagami: I prefer not to mention how much I earn. But, for me, it’s not enough to sustain because that’s not my full-time job. 

LS: Can you name one perk and downside of being a social media influencer?
Sivagami:
The perk - Social media has made it possible for a lot of people to work with established brands. Last time, to represent a brand or to be a brand ambassador, you have to be a big celebrity like perhaps a beauty queen or an actor. But now, by creating your content and garnering your following, it’s possible to work with your dream brands. I think that’s quite cool. The downside - being bullied and trolled. 

LS: What’s your advice to those who are looking to be a social media influencer for financial gain?
Sivagami:
Find a niche and ask why you want to be on social media. Be an expert in that field and give honest feedback and the following will come. Also, ignore the haters.
 

4. Vikneswaran | Entertainer

Better known as Vikar, is an entertainer with a Bachelor’s Degree (Hons) in Software Engineering and a passion for filmmaking. Having to work/collaborate with over 60 brands e.g. Google, Air Asia, Universal Music Group and Petronas, he manages two YouTube channels (Vikarworld & VikarVlogs), as well as three other social media platforms, all of which equate to 285K followers and over 20 million views.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vikneswaran Veerasundar (@vikarworld) on


LS: How did you become a social media influencer and what drives you to be one?
Vikar:
I never really wanted to be a social media influencer and I still don't consider myself one and I never call myself one. I've always had a huge passion for entertaining people, making content, videos and music. I always see myself as a creator rather than an influencer, but I guess society thinks that anyone with a significant following online is considered an influencer. 

LS: People usually say that social media influencers make a lot of money. Is it true? 
Vikar:
Not exactly. It depends on how big your following, engagement and brand is. Most of these ‘Social Media influencers’ only flex their ‘wealth’ online because that draws in more crowd.

LS: This question is a sensitive one - how much money do you roughly make annually as a social media influencer. Is it sustainable?
Vikar:
I make enough annually and I pay my taxes. Doing this gives me the flexibility to work on other streams of income as well. If I were only a social media influencer, I don't think it is sustainable. People might vibe with you for a few years, and when they don't, you'll lose your followers which would also result in losing your income.

LS: Can you name one perk and downside of being a social media influencer?
Vikar:
One perk would be that you'll have freedom and flexibility in terms of your time. One downside would be you don't get a proper fixed income.

LS: What’s your advice to those who are looking to be a social media influencer for financial gain?
Vikar:
Don't do it. If you intend to do it, grow your platform big enough before quitting your job.
 

 

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