The world has been fighting the novel coronavirus for almost three months now. At the time of writing, according to the World Health Organisation’s 97th Situation Report, there are more than 2,804,796 confirmed COVID-19 cases with over 1,93,790 deaths worldwide. There are confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in around 185 countries and territories across the globe and over 860,000 people have recovered from the virus so far.

Here, in Singapore, we have been self-isolating for over a month now and will continue to do so till June 1st with the extended CB to help flatten the curve and fight this battle against the novel coronavirus. With living in isolation and lockdowns seemingly becoming the new normal, the world economy is bound to slow down. One of the groups that are the worst-hit amidst all this is freelancers. 

However, in light of Singapore’s circuit breaker, people are consuming more online entertainment than ever before. A Forbes article stated that total internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics. Streaming has also jumped by at least 12%. 

To leverage on this trend and help freelancers, Asia’s leading Influencer Marketing Platform– Kobe Global Technologies have launched a NoDistancing movement that seeks to gather local businesses, media creators, giggers, and freelancers to present virtual live performances for the public on various social media platforms. 

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Kobe’s #nodistancing campaign not only supports the freelancer community to protect their livelihood and families during this challenging time but also gives brands the opportunity to stay relevant through these influencers during COVID-19.

Additionally, by bringing the local community together from home through social media platforms, it promotes safe distancing yet inherently keeps everyone connected to the community.

TVM had a chance to interview Kobe Technologies CEO & Founder Ms Evangeline Leong about this initiative and more.  

Evangeline Leong
CEO & Founder of Kobe Technologies – Ms Evangeline Leong

TVM: What led to the establishment of the company and why the moniker “Kobe”?

Ms Leong: I was visiting a small wanton noodle stall in MacPherson and I was suddenly curious as to how the store owner managed to remain popular even with other competing stores opening. His answer to me really struck me – “我的口碑好” (my word-of-mouth recommendation is good). That’s actually how I came up with the name Kobe. His answer was so simple but still significant as it made me think of how word-of-mouth could be made relevant to businesses everywhere. 

Having worked in the digital marketing industry for almost 10 years, I realise that word of mouth remains one of the most effective tools for marketing. Social Media has liberated the speed of word of mouth amongst consumers, where we often see our friends or families sharing about their latest experience at a restaurant or an overseas trip.  

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The adoption of digital innovation has always been a concern. There is no lack of cutting edge technology in the market, but adoption has always been slow. A lot of this is due to the unfamiliarity towards something new and intangible. Naming Kobe after the traditional word of mouth “口碑” (Kou Bei) was intended to elevate the understanding of traditional marketing means and to bring this tool to businesses. 

TVM: How big is your current network?

Ms Leong: Within our database, we have more than 5,500 influencers across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Some of the well-known influencers whom we have worked with include @bongqiuqiu, @mongabong, Sylvia from Night Owl Cinematics, Denise Keller, and JiaHui from The Smart Local.  In addition, we have partners around the globe from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Japan, Korea, India, China and many more. This has given us access to more than 800,000 international influencers outside of our database. These numbers are essential to our operations as we have served more than 300 clients since Kobe was founded, such as McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Lazada and Government Agencies. 

TVM: How can influencers willing to be a part of your network reach out to you?

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Ms Leong: The process is really simple! Just head down to https://app.getkobe.com, sign up using your Instagram account and you’re done! 

TVM: What was the inspiration behind the #nodistancing campaign?

Ms Leong: We have a really close relationship with all our influencers and freelancers. Just by speaking with some of them, we can understand how badly affected they are by COVID-19, especially in the travel and entertainment industry. Simultaneously, the Singapore Government has also tightened the social distancing measures which encourage Singaporeans to stay at home as much as possible. This behaviour has increased the usage of internet and social media consumption for obvious reasons, and ultimately, this set us thinking:

  • People are bored at home, and they would naturally try to find new things to do
  • Our pool of influencers and freelancers have a set of unique talents that they can still showcase, via social media, and
  • Marketers are shifting their budget from offline to online to engage continuously with their customers. 

Therefore, with the #nodistancing campaign, we can practise social distancing by staying at home and address all the 3 points – entertain Singaporeans while protecting the livelihood of the influencers, freelancers, and marketers can continue engaging their audience or customers in the online space. 

“Two weeks ago, I received an opportunity to perform some magic tricks through live streaming. This would not be possible without the help from Kobe, who created this #nodistancing initiative from scratch to help freelancers like myself to protect our livelihood amid this difficult time. Especially during the Circuit Breaker period when we are encouraged to stay at home, this initiative utilizes social media platforms to provide entertainment to the public while giving freelancers the opportunity to showcase their talents,” shared freelance magician Mr Bottle.

Mr Bottle

TVM: What is the new reality of influencer entertainment in a pandemic-stricken world?

Ms Leong: Before COVID-19, live streaming was still slowly catching up with posts and stories, but we can expect to see more traction for live streaming.

A lot more content is being produced at home especially for the fitness and health industry where the COVID-19 situation shows that people no longer have a choice but to produce such content at home. Social media engagement of sponsored content has seen an increase of about 40%, therefore many would also adopt live streaming to interact directly with their followers as we can see from the increase of live streaming platforms such as Facebook and Instagram Live during this period. In fact, Facebook has also mentioned that they will be focusing more on live-streaming, and according to Forbes, live streaming has also seen a jump by at least 12%. 

TVM: How will marketing and influencer entertainment look like after COVID-19?

Ms Leong: As COVID-19 has disrupted all offline operations, it will push brands to focus on their online capabilities, which include online advertising strategy after this whole season of COVID-19 ends. Many brands are starting to shift their budget from offline to online. This trend will grow. Live streaming will be a norm, as we can see brands using it as a way to reach out to their customers, such as online workshops or webinars. 

TVM: What is the concept of “isolated collaboration” and how it makes your brand matter?

Ms Leong: By “isolated collaboration”, we mean brands collaborating with influencers while the majority of the public is isolated at home during the CB. Before COVID-19, influencer marketing had already taken off but now there is scope for more– from co-content creation to Instagram takeover and creating a challenge for the followers to live stream sessions. In this time of crisis, it is still more important than ever to have continuous online presence and engagement with customers, especially when everyone is spending more time online.

TVM: What events should we look out for?

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Ms Leong: Tentatively, we will have Tay Ke Xin (@kextay) who will be performing next week. She is a singer and songwriter, and part of a popular group called MICappella.

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Founded in 2016, Kobe is a unique B2B2C company that utilises an international PCT patent AI technology system. With the help of AI, they connect advertisers to relevant and mass-market influencers, leveraging on their ability to broadcast messages to millions of users so that businesses can be represented to their target audience in a credible and authentic manner. This technology has allowed Kobe to produce award-winning campaigns for their clients. Kobe was presented with “The Best Use Of Social Media Influencers” at the Mumbrella Asia Award 2018.

Learn more about them here.

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