Influencer Marketing in South Korea

With a population of over 52 million people (including approximately one million registered foreigners), Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Seoul, the nation’s capital and the largest city in terms of population and business infrastructure, is occupied by more than 10 million residents. Korea is comprised of nine provinces and six main cities –Seoul, Busan, Gwangju, Daejon, Daegu, and Incheon - which have provincial status.

Korea was one of the world’s top ve Internet users (1st in mobile broadband penetration and 4th in xed broadband penetration) according to the International Telecommunication Union in early 2011.

Out of a population of 52 million, South Korea has more than 45 million internet users, as well as 38.4 million active users on social networks, i.e. 83% of all active users of social networks. This places South Korea in the top 2 for the use of social networking globally (just ahead of Singapore with a rate of 77%). These two countries are way ahead of the US (7th), where 66% of the online population are active users of social networks, and the United Kingdom (10th) with 64% of its internet surfers actively using social networks.

Almost 99% of them go online at least once a week, spending an average 14.3 hours a week on the internet, 0.6 hours longer than last year. They’re doing everything, especially on mobile: Internet shopping, banking and cloud usage are all rising, even when PC usage is seeing a slight decline. That has spawned a healthy generation of mobile-first startups in fintech and on-demand services from food delivery to cosmetics boxes.

Korea has been one of the world’s most dynamic economies. Since joining the trillion dollar club of world economies in 2004, Korea has become the world’s 13th largest economy. Initially a system of close ties of government and business including directed credit helped to make this success possible.

The Korean market is an ideal test bed for global companies. There are several reasons. World-class IT infrastructure and a high-speed communications network let tech-savvy consumers communicate actively about new products. Korea boasts diverse income distribution among its 52 million people - a large population relative to the country’s size.

In the country with the world’s fastest internet speeds that’s in the race to be first with 5G, it might not be weird that over 90% of those in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are connected. But the rising internet penetration is because a growing number of elderly, particularly those in their 60s, and kiddos younger than 10 are on the internet. More than five million Korean “silver surfers” aged 60 and over are surfing the web, over half of the age group, mostly for instant messaging. Meanwhile, only 30% of their U.S. peers aged 65 and over own a smartphone.

Here's an overview of South Korea's Internet Usage Rate by Gender, Age, Household Income, Occupation and Education Levels.

Gender ratios for internet usage in South Korea are relatively even. Out of the total number of internet uses, men make up 57.7% and women make up 42.3%.

60% of internet users fall between 25 and 44 years of age. Significantly, internet users aged between 55-64 make up only 4.6% of internet users.

79.5% of workers in Korea use the Internet and the occupations are broken down into these as follows, professionals/managers, office workers, service/sales, production workers, students and housewives.

Education Level
College graduates are the heaviest users of Internet followed by high school graduates, middle school graduates and elementary and below.

Unlike China, Korea feature the strong online presence of Facebook and Twitter, with millions of users and a substantial penetration rate. But in each of these countries, far and away the most vital social network is a local mobile network: Kakao Talk in Korea. Kakao Talk allows brands to interact with their client base in the closest possible way, working to establish a direct dialog that has a positive impact on brand perception.

As of the fourth quarter 2016, 83 percent of the population were active social media users. The most popular social platform was YouTube with a 72 percent penetration rate. South Korea ranks among the countries with the highest number of monthly active social media users in the Asia Pacific region - as of January 2017, close to 42 million users in South Korea accessed social networks on a monthly basis. Despite local competition from KakaoTalk, Facebook is also popular in South Korea with the local audience being projected to reach 15.4 million users in 2021.

Top Influencer Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know

  • 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities.
  • 86% of women turn to social networks before making a purchase.
  • 32% of influencers who currently work with brands cite Facebook as the best platform, followed by Instagram at 24%.
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.
  • 86% of the most-viewed beauty videos on YouTube were made by influencers, compared to 14% by beauty brands, themselves.
  • 57% of beauty and fashion companies use influencers as part of their marketing strategies.
  • On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing.

Why Influencer Marketing?

Brands looking into influencer marketing should take note of the trends in the industry in order to fully strategise their campaign. We have identified 3 prominent trends of influencer marketing coming 2017:

Trend #1: Emphasis Towards Content Marketing

In 2016, we have seen and experienced both the good and not-so-positive impact influencer marketing can bring to a brand. Some prominent mistakes made by brands include the overuse of influencers, selecting influencers irrelevant to your brand and so on. But one big mistake that should be avoided is the posting of content which is irrelevant to the audience.

Coming 2017, the emphasis on quality content will be largely noticeable. Content posted by Thai influencers not only have to be engaging and interactive, it also have to be new, natural, suited to the influencer and brand, shareable and encompasses a call-to-action to be able to reach out to a wide network of your target and produce positive results. Consequentially, brands which invest greatly in creating quality content will have an edge over the rest.

Trend #2: People-Centric Influencer Marketing

Most brands and marketers are focused on tapping on the hype of influencer marketing without considering the rationale behind those marketing efforts. In the upcoming year, it is crucial for brands to become more people-centric and focus on the audience when implementing each campaign.

Influencer marketing in 2017 will need to provide consumers with what they desire and explain how purchasing your product or service will add value to their life. With many marketers executing their marketing campaigns without much thought regarding their audience, being the first few to resonate with the audience will bring your brand ahead.

Trend #3: South Korean Becoming Risk-Adverse

Being risk-adverse, South Korean consumers are increasingly relying on influencers and word-of-mouth to decide on their purchases. This should be seen as an opportunity to leverage on the available influencers to bring about more sales through the online platform. To be able to leverage on influencer marketing to provide a form of reassurance for the consumers would definitely bring about positive impact on your brand's ROI.

Influencer marketing would hence be a great platform to reach out to South Korea market, especially the young Korean who constantly look online for reviews. These characteristics of the community is what make influencer marketing extremely effective in South Korea.

How To Get Started With Influencer Marketing?

Reaching out to Influencer Personally or through Influencer Marketing Agency

You may ask, what are the various ways to engage Instagram influencers in South Korea to perform influencer marketing? There are simply two options: businesses to reach out to influencers personally, or go through an influencer marketing agency.

On the surface, it may seem reasonable to reach out to influencers personally with the presumed low cost and easy reach. However, with the vast amount of influencers in South Korea, each focusing on specific topics of interest, performing influencer marketing and liaising can be a real challenge. To execute an effective influencer marketing campaign, one should be sure to read up on the various aspect of influencer marketing from the various articles and ebooks available online.

Alternatively, an influencer marketing agency would be of great help in terms of identifying the right influencer for your marketing campaign, negotiating prices and measuring results.

South Korea Fastest Growing Influencer Marketing Agency

StarNgage is an Influencer marketing and reporting platform allowing brands to customise, manage, launch, and measure digital advertising campaigns on Instagram. StarNgage empowers brands to partner and advertise with everyday influencers - the same way you would on search engines or social networks!

StarNgage provides 4 main services: Targeting, Identifying, Amplifying and Tracking.


Set your targeted customer profiles and categories while indicating preferred Cost-Per Engagement


Search for category-specific and brand aligned Influencers with the right profile to promote your campaign through our patented matching algorithm


Mobilise Influencers to create optimised visual content that engages your targeted consumers, amplifies your brand, and generate online buzz


Track your influencer marketing performance through our dashboard and measure your ROI. Pay based on desired results.

How To Choose Your Influencer Marketing Goals and KPIs

The Most Common Influencer Marketing Campaign Goals

After activating more than 30,000 influencers across 300 campaigns, we've seen influencers used in many different ways. Here are the most common goals we saw across our campaigns.

Product Launches
Brand Awareness
Content Generation
Community Building

The Most Common Influencer Marketing Campaign KPIs


Can be measured based on the number of followers of influencers. Easy to measure, but the least valuable.


Easy to measure and one of the most important performance based metrics


Includes any social action (like, comment and share). Requires a hashtag or unique link for proper attribution. More value than a click.


Includes installs, sign-ups, form completions and purchases. Hardest to measure, requiring a pixel & unique link or a promo code for attribution.

How To Choose Your Influencer Types

The Pyramid of Influence

The Pyramid of Influence encompasses the full spectrum of your influencer relationships. Here is a breakdown of how that pyramid works from the top down. Not all influencers are the same. Over the past few years, there is a big shift in focus from these high-end influencers to micro-influencers. To explain the different types of influencers, StarNgage uses the Pyramid of Influence. Influencers with a high reach and lower relevance, like celebrities and thought leaders, are at the top of the pyramid, while those with lower reach but higher relevance, like advocate and current customers are at the bottom. Micro-Influencers is a mix of people who have reach, but more importantly, have a high relevance among their audiences. Their influence lies in their niche understandings and the mutual trust with their audiences.

Spectrum of Influencers

The term ‘influencer’ used to describe celebrity and social media elite. But the mass adoption of social media leveled the playing field to include bloggers, instagrammers, youtubers and even everyday consumers. As such, the industry is working to establish a common taxonomy to talk about influencers. Influencers can be identified among the following three types:


Actors, artists, athletes and social media stars who have 500k+ followers and drive 2%  to 5% engagement per post. They have the highest reach on the influencer spectrum, with their influence driven by their celebrity (they tend to be brands in their own right). They have the lowest overall resonance when it comes to driving actions on behalf of a brand.


Professional bloggers, and YouTubers who have large base of 50,000 to 500,000 followers and drive 5%  to  20% engagement per post. They have the highest topical relevance on the spectrum, with category-specific influence – such as lifestyle, fashion or business.


Everyday consumers who have 500 to 100,000 followers and drive 25% — 50% engagement per post. They have the highest brand relevance and resonance on the spectrum of influencers, with influence driven by their personal experience with a brand and their strength of relationship with their networks.

Social Media Influencer Landscape in South Korea

Mega-influencers: Earn their living some other way (e.g. athlete, actor, artist, top model, celebrity), and monetize their influence as a secondary source of income. (For Lee Minho, PSY and BingBang)

Macro-influencers: Earn their living as an influencer (e.g. professional blogger, creator, or journalist). (For example)

Micro-influencers: Consumers who have relevant influence and may not know it, or aspire to become a macro-influencer. (For example )

Brand Advocates: Consumers who are passionate and willing to share, but have little influence.

Top Celebrities on Facebook in South Korea

Lee Minho (이민호)
Lee Minho (이민호)
슈퍼주니어(Super Junior)
슈퍼주니어(Super Junior)
소녀시대(Girls' Generation)
소녀시대(Girls' Generation)

Top Instagrammers (Instagram Influencers) in South Korea

Hyun Ah
Jessica Jung
Jessica Jung

How To Choose Your Influencer Marketing Content Types

Plan Your Content Type Before Activating The Influencers

Brand Generated

Brand creates the content and influencers are activated to share it with their networks.

Influencers don't add any personalization; they simply share the content. Least risk.

Less Creativity and personalization. Least impactful.


Brand develops guidelines for the content and influencers create their own content based on adaptation. For example: “Share a picture of your selfie in Singapore Botanic Garden”.

Moderate Impact Pontential.

Mild risk.

Influencer Generated

Content is generated by Influencers based on their creativity. Brand gives loose and generic direction.

Influencers have full creativity with loose guideline from brands. Maximum impact.

Review process is needed as part of risk management as the risk is higher.

How To Choose the Right Incentive for Your Influencer

Plan Your Incentives Before Activating The Influencers

There are different factors you should consider before making a decision on what kind of incentives you offer to your influencers.

Exclusivity: Incentives should be exclusive to only influencers that you like to activate in order to motivate participation in your influencer marketing campaign.

Influencer type: Most of the mega-influencers and macro-influencers will require cash payment, while micro-influencers will consider other form of compensations aside from cash.

Brand affinity: The most enduring and valuable level of influencer relationship is based on the mutual belief that the influencers and the brand share common values. It is advisable to activate relevant influencer who is passionate about your brands for best results. Branded incentives will work best in this case.

Fulfilment Effort: If more effort is required by the influencer to create and share branded content, then a higher incentive value is needed.

Types of Incentives


For most of the mega-influencers and macro-influencers, you will have to use payments for incentives. However for micro-influencers, some of them are open to receive VIP treatments and special branded incentives other than cash.

VIP Treatment

When activating micro-influencers, the most popular incentive is an exclusive experience. This type of incentive works best when they are passionate about your brand. This could be in the form of a discount, gift card, limited product giveaway, VIP free trial etc.


Micro-influencers are more than happy to receive non-monetary rewards such as recognition. You can do this by featuring their content on your owned media such as Website or share their voices and give them a limelight on your social media channel.

Common Incentives Ideas

  • Exclusive Event
  • Early Access
  • Discounts
  • Free Trial
  • Contest Entries
  • Gift Cards
  • Experience Box
  • Limited Product Sample
  • Priority Service

Brands use StarNgage to Find Influencers

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