The Complete Guide to Korean Influencer Marketing in 2023

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Over the past few years, social media usage and influencer marketing have absolutely exploded in South Korea. This presents a huge opportunity for brands looking to enter or further tap into this lucrative, trend-setting market.

In this 2,300 word guide, I‘ll be sharing:

  • The latest stats and trends on Korean influencer marketing
  • A detailed analysis of the top Korean mega-influencers you should know
  • Expert tips on how to identify and collaborate with relevant Korean influencers
  • My recommendations on setting up an effective influencer program in South Korea

So whether you‘re new to influencer marketing or a seasoned pro, use this as your handbook for conquering the Korean market in 2023!

The Korean Influencer Marketing Opportunity

South Korea has one of the highest social media penetration rates in the world at over 80% of the total population. And influencer marketing is hugely popular here – Koreans see influencers as more relatable, trusted sources of information compared to traditional celebrities.

In fact, according to Starngage:

  • 71% of Koreans trust social media influencers for purchasing decisions
  • The Korean influencer market is forecast to grow to a value of $2.15 billion by 2023

As you can see, collaborating with the right Korean influencers presents a massive opportunity to drive awareness, engagement and sales in this market.

Identifying Relevant Korean Influencers

But with such a saturated landscape, how do you identify and vet potential Korean influencer partners?

Here are my top tips as an influencer marketing expert with over 7 years of experience specifically in South Korea:

Look Beyond Vanity Metrics

A common mistake brands make is solely focusing on follower count. But high follower counts and engagement rates can easily be falsified.

Instead, vet influencers holistically across these metrics:

  • Audience Demographics: Ensure there‘s sufficient audience overlap with your target customer profile.
  • Content Style & Niche: Analyze the influencer‘s feed and aesthetic – does it align with your brand?
  • Values & Authenticity: Do they maintain consistency across their personal and commercial posts?
  • Campaign Performance: Ask for case studies and reviews from past brand collaborations.

Leverage Influencer Marketing Platforms

Discovering and vetting potential partners manually can be extremely tedious.

The easiest approach is to use an influencer marketing platform like Ainfluencer.


These platforms provide access to expansive Korean influencer databases that you can easily filter by audience demographics, content style, campaign performance and more.

You can directly coordinate campaigns end-to-end within their messaging interfaces instead of relying on scattered email and DMs. And they take care of influencer payments too!

Consider Nano & Micro-Influencers Too!

Mega-influencers with millions of followers tend to get all the attention. But employing a hybrid strategy with nano (1k to 10k followers) and micro-influencers (10k to 100k followers) can be extremely effective.

The key advantage of nano and micro-influencers is their niche, highly engaged audiences. This allows them to drive targeted awareness and trust amongst relevant subgroups.

According to Markerly, the engagement rate benchmark across influencer tiers is:


As you can see, engagement rates drastically increase among nano and micro-influencers compared to mega-influencers.

The key is to identify a diverse range of relevant influencers across the awareness funnel, from mega to micro.

Next, let‘s analyze some of the top Korean mega-influencers you should definitely be collaborating with.

Top Korean Mega-Influencers in 2023

As part of Ainfluencer‘s annual State of Influencer Marketing report, we identified the top 20 Korean influencers on Instagram based onfollower count, engagement metrics and overall influence.

Here are the top 8 who should be on your radar:

1. Sola (@seola_s) – 766k Instagram followers

Seola is an extremely popular YouTuber and one of the hottest girls on Korean Instagram. With her slender figure, cutesy vibe and funny personality, she‘s the perfect Gen Z influencer for beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands.

Based on her playful feed and focus on fashion, beauty and lifestyle, here are some ideal partnership opportunities for Sola:

✅ Beauty & Skincare
✅ Athleisure & Activewear
✅ Travel Experiences
✅ Food & Beverage

Contact Seola on Ainfluencer

2. Oh Hayoung (@ohhayoung) – 1M Instagram followers

With her bright feed and colorful style, Oh Hayoung has cultivated an extremely loyal Gen Z and young millennial fanbase.

She‘s the perfect influencer to tap into trends like Y2K fashion revival and promote fun, youthful brands.

As you can see from her vibrant, trendy feed, ideal partnerships for Hayoung include:

✅ Fashion & Apparel
✅ Makeup & Beauty
✅ Accessories
✅ Snacks & Desserts

Contact Oh Hayoung on Ainfluencer

I‘ve highlighted 8 of the top Korean mega-influencers that you should look to collaborate with.

To see the full list of 20 top Korean influencers, get access to their contact details and directly coordinate campaigns with them, join the Ainfluencer platform now.

Expert Tips for Running Influencer Campaigns in South Korea

Beyond just identifying the right influencers, effectively running and optimizing your campaigns in South Korea requires nuanced strategy tailored to the local landscape.

Here are my top 5 expert tips:

1. Appeal to FOMO

Korean consumers, especially youth demographics, are extremely receptive to fear of missing out (FOMO) messaging and aspirational brands.

Ensure your campaign creatives and hooks clearly communicate the experiential benefits and social clout that comes from purchasing your product.

2. Hybrid Influencer Strategies Work Best

As highlighted earlier, use a diverse range of nano, micro and mega-influencers tailored to your goals across the purchase funnel.

This allows you to achieve widespread awareness amongst mass audiences while also driving consideration and trust with niche communities.

3. Show Don‘t Just Tell

Koreans deeply value visual-first storytelling and showing real social proof.

Encourage influencers to create IG Reels and TikToks styling and demonstrating your products instead of traditional product placement shots.

4. Invest in Hashtag Marketing

Hashtag marketing campaigns drive virality especially amongst Korean youth demographics.

Incentivize audiences to participate in branded hashtag challenges by offering discounts, vouchers or exclusive merchandise.

5. Localize for Korea

Don‘t simply repurpose global social creative. The highest performing campaigns tailor messaging specifically for Korean audiences – aligning with local cultural nuances and consumption trends.

Final Thoughts

As highlighted in this guide, the exponential rise of social media usage and influencer marketing in South Korea presents a huge blue ocean opportunity for brands in 2023.

Collaborating with locally relevant influencers provides the perfect vehicle to drive awareness, consideration and customer acquisition in this trend-setting market.

The key is to identify and vet influencers beyond just vanity metrics, leveraging insider platforms like Ainfluencer. Mix mega-influencers with niche micro and nano-influencers. And craft campaign creative and messaging to deeply resonate with Korean audiences.

I hope you‘ve found this detailed guide useful. If you have any other questions on winning over the Korean market or influencer collaborations, feel free to reach out!

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