Let’s all take a step back on this influencer thing, and think about what brought about the phenomenon in the first place. An influencer is by definition an opinion leader, someone with the ability to influence a larger community due to their stature and revered opinion. Eventually brands realised the value that these opinion leaders could potentially provide, and slowly with the advent of social platforms we saw the phenomenon of influencer marketing evolve into what it is today.
The Middle East advertising industry in particular has recently seen a major surge in influencer advertising campaigns, and more brands are turning to influencers as unconventional engagement and reach building platforms.
Let’s delve into the two biggest advantages of influencer marketing, as well as the two biggest problems which plight the industry in the region.
The best way to gain consumer trust is to align with somebody they already trust. An endorsement by an influencer is essentially a word of mouth recommendation; which if genuine and organic - is the most effective type of marketing.
2. Capturing Lost Audiences
With the number of ads consumers are exposed to today, as well as the rise of ad blocking technology, reaching your consumers is becoming more and more difficult. Influencers give you a platform to reach large communities in a unique and un intrusive way as well as re capture an audience which may have otherwise ignored or missed your brand.
So now that we’ve identified the advantages of influencer marketing, let’s take a look at the major problems that brands and agencies face when dealing with influencers in the middle east.
1. Limited Knowledge pool
A big issue today is that most agencies and brands are dealing with a a limited knowledge and database of influencers.
This is largely due to the fact that finding and identifying influencers is in large part a manual process. Each agency or brand builds its own database by manually scouring social platforms for ambassadors of interest; or by pure word of mouth. The result is that industry budgets become bottlenecked and condensed among a select few resources, which in itself defeats the point of using influencers in the first place.
What’s the point of influencers if they are endorsing every brand left right and centre? This practice soon becomes harmful to both parties; the influencer loses credibility and the brand becomes a corporate intruder.
The fact of the matter is, influencer marketing in the middle east is still very much in its infancy. The result of that is what we see when it comes to pricing, and the lack of any real rate or pricing structure.
Brands approach influencers and their agents, and from there on in it’s pretty much a bargaining process until the two parties reach an acceptable fee. The process is both costly and time consuming.
Whichever way you look at it, the current instructed and qualitative nature of the business means that brands can never effectively allocate budgets or measure ROI.