(by Mohammed Said, iHC Influencers)
In the field of marketing, 2018 will be the year of the influencer for the MENA region. This, you may think, is a bold statement, but it’s clear within our agency that brand managers are finally embracing influencer marketing, where in the past they have been approaching the discipline more cautiously in terms of budget commitment.
We all saw in Dubai in 2017 Logan Paul’s, appearance at Dubai Mall drew a huge mob of excited fans and also couldn’t miss (largely) women from all cultures patiently lining up hours before Huda (Huda Beauty) was scheduled to appear in Sephora. Influencers like @taimalfalasi (currently boasting a whopping 2.4m Insta followers, 550,000 YouTube subscribers and 112,000 Twitter followers) and The Real Fouz have become some of the most popular profiles with high fellowship and strong engagement in the region. They have the ability to elevate specific products that would complement their personal brand, bringing unrivalled authenticity to communications.
Consumers of most demographics are increasingly being ‘influenced’ by what they absorb through on social media. Whether it’s fashion advice or even a suggestion to spice up a dish, bloggers and social media influencers have the ability to do the talking on a brand’s behalf. Brands using influencer marketing benefit from a filtered audience and the objective advice shared is a credible, powerful communications option.
While for most brands – the decision to engage an influencer marketing agency is simple, it’s imperative to think strategically about your influencer marketing budget and plan for 2018. Influencers provide a variety of results including: brand awareness, user acquisition, purchase intent, downloads or direct sales and capturing new followers. Therefore, the key is to consider what results you would ideally like to achieve and then have your agency work back to how these would be best delivered harnessing the power of influencers.
Bringing an influencer on board is not as easy as it sounds. Not only should the objectives and timing be set, but researching your prospective influencers is crucial, as the content that will be required to align with your brand and message. Here at iHC we always check and ensure influencers we select for our clients have healthy post engagement relative to their followers, high quality content and identify spam bots in their follower base. We can then choose the best mix of micro and macro influencers to deliver the results against your budget.
According to recent research only 22% of brands are trusted. This should be a warning bell for any marketer. Hence it is important to engage influencers and include them in your marketing strategy as they are usually already implicitly trusted by their followers. We truly believe ‘people trust people’. This gives your brand the opportunity to reach, engage, and impact consumers like never before.
In 2016, influencer marketing was predominately centred upon generating awareness for brands, as conversions were difficult to keep track of. However, since the recent release of Instagram features such as tagging and links in Stories, companies are now able to measure their conversation rates and ROI more accurately through insights. This makes it much easier for brands to quantify the engagement and impact sparked by their influencer campaigns and adjust their strategy accordingly.
From experience, I personally believe Instagram and YouTube are the top two platforms where you should use an influencer to market your brand. Most influencers favour Instagram and as you scroll through your feed or the explore tabs, you will notice a large number of people promoting products or services.
Here is a fact that you perhaps didn’t know: Instagram has 700 million users. Well, just one year ago, Instagram announced its 500 million user milestone. A growth of almost 50% in one year tells us more about this platform’s popularity and future potential than anything else. From normal posts to grid photos to carousels of content as well as Stories, most proactive influencers on Instagram know exactly how to work with brands to produce great content that they can execute with the help of an experienced agency. A great agency will also help the influencers execute engaging contests, interviews, channel takeovers, product reviews, or capture the perfect photo that will optimise for likes and views.
In short, social media influencers are trusted and authentic celebrities that will help you reach your target demographic, which can easily be scaled to your budget. By having a concrete influencer strategy targeted to your audience, you can find valuable results for your investment. Remember, if you’re not yet working with influencers, you can be sure your competitors are.