Why brands are leaning on Twitter to help them ride the K-pop wave

When Mattel announced a collaboration with BTS, the company’s stock jumped almost 9%.

With over 5.3 billion conversations related to K-pop recorded on Twitter in 2018, brands have limitless opportunities to reach a young and engaged audience that watch K-pop content on the platform, says Twitter’s head of global content partnerships for Kpop.

In addition, brands can also now run pre-roll video ads targeted at these users, explains YeonJeong Kim, as Twitter has extended its In-Stream Video Ads (IVA) and In-Stream Videos Sponsorships (IVS) capabilities to K-pop content.

“We provide the platform for brands who operate their own handle to promote their ads to the K-pop fans organically. Brands that choose IVS can engage with K-pop artists and vice versa,” the Korean tells The Drum on the sidelines of Innovfest Unbound 2019.

Twitter has also introduced Bluerooms, which are live Q&A sessions on Twitter between over 200 K-pop artists and their fans. The platform claimed it recorded an average of a million viewership for each K-pop Twitter Blueroom in 2018.

Brands that have tried this include LG Uplus, which is owned by South Korean conglomerate LG. In its Blueroom activation, the brand introduced its video platform, U+ Idol Live, to K-pop fans globally.

“LG Uplus collaborated with boyband group Monsta X for their Blueroom live Q&A session. The brand embedded their ads into the program, which allowed Twitter to promote Monsta X and LG Uplus organically, with the brand integrated into the K-pop culture,” explains Kim.

Bethany Larson Bloch, a senior editor at Mutant Communications notes that with the introduction of Twitter's Blueroom, other than Monsta X, groups like EXO, EXID, GOT7, and I*ZONE have also dropped by to go live, using the platform to engage with fans worldwide in real-time through live streaming, providing a new way for fandoms to use the social media platform.

“K-pop groups have been using Twitter as a platform to engage with fans for years, with some using the medium as anyone else would,” she explains to The Drum.

“With their Twitter account, they're able to move away from corporate-approved messages and flashy content drops to post their personal thoughts, photographs of their meal or outfit, and short-form videos just saying hey or to show off exciting events, such as being on a red carpet so that their fans can see that from the artist perspective.”

It is obvious why brands want to tap the K-pop culture. According to data from CrowdTangle, one of the most popular K-pop bands in the world, BTS, generated 400 million interactions from its tweets in a three-month period, more than any account. In comparison, tweets from president Donald Trump received 105m interactions in the same period.

For example, when Mattel announced a collaboration with BTS, the company’s stock jumped almost 9%. In Singapore, tickets to BTS concert at the 55,000-seat National Stadium sold out in four hours, while demand for tickets to watch their documentary, Burn the Stage: The Movie, crashed movie websites. Other K-pop groups in demand are Blackpink and NCT Dream.

The former starred in e-commerce platform Shopee’s 12.12 Birthday Sale ad campaign in 2018 and within a week after the release of the video in Indonesia, the YouTube video of the campaign reached 12m views.

“As part of this celebratory occasion, we are honoured to welcome Blackpink into our ever-growing Shopee family. As a young, talented and passionate group who has made waves in the international music scene, Blackpink is the perfect representation of Shopee’s brand values and spirit," Chris Feng, the chief executive officer at Shopee, said at the time of the partnership announcement.

"We look forward to working with them and YG Group to co-create exciting initiatives that can engage with, and bring Shopee users from all across the region together; starting with Shopee 12.12 Birthday Sale."

NCT Dream, meanwhile, released a song for the World Scout Jamboree, which brought global attention to a relatively niche event thanks to a hashtag celebrating its release that trended for hours.

Bloch points out that K-pop fandoms are very highly engaged online and have become accustomed to receiving new content weekly, if not daily, across multiple channels, with most of the international conversation occurs on Twitter.

She says that these fandoms often trend hashtags worldwide within minutes, and an easy way brands have engaged with K-pop fans is through trend jacking, like when restaurant chain Panda Express got in on the #IdolChallenge, started by BTS member j-hope.

“While these types of posts provide a spike in engagement for brands, it likely isn't long-lasting. Though these posts are fun for the fandoms to interact with, simply posting and engaging online may not lead to true business results. However, brand partnerships with K-pop groups do provide huge business impact, online engagement included,” she explains.

“A creative example is BT21, a collection of cartoon characters conceived by BTS and executed by LINE. Though there is a wealth of physical BT21 merchandise available to purchase, the collaboration has led to gifs and emoji of the characters that are shared across a variety of social media and messaging platforms – and because they are cartoons, it's possible some people use them without even realising there is a direct correlation to K-pop.”

The Drum previously looked at how western brands can work with K-pop brands outside of Asia Pacific.

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