• Fiona Anne

Influencer Marketing in the UAE

If you work in the social media industry today you are bound to hear the words influencer marketing;

So what is it and how is it used within the United Arab Emirates? Firstly, influencer marketing isn’t new but has been around for years; with the recent rise of social media demand for influencer marketing has become widespread. Think about how we live today, since the dawn of television and rise of media outlets advertisements have become so widespread that as a consequence we are desensitized. We ignore most adverts or even skip them; more importantly marketing messages tend to have less credibility day by day since we don’t like being advertised to .

Common misconception of an influencer is they have a massive following; it’s true to an extent but that’s not necessarily a requirement. An influencer is one who able to change their follower’s perception or get them to try something different (influence them!!!!). They are able to deliver a message to a large number of people while gaining a level of trust from their followers with confidence. Celebrity endorsements have been used for decades but times have changed and people would rather listen to someone like them than a celebrity who has lesser commonality. Influencer marketing taps into this resource by using both old and new marketing tools with an influencer while creating collaboration between the brand and individual. So how do we tap into this resource within the UAE?

Recently, influencers have become a trend within the UAE’S ad space, in order to keep up with the digital world where a consumer’s attention span is captured or lost in a few seconds using influencers has helped mend that gap. Instead of spending more money on advertisements which is almost ineffective, there is a higher chance of growing in the market environment by using social advocates who create real conversations with relevant communities. For instance Canon’s partnership with Haifa Beseisso (YouTuber and Travel influencer) to launch their ‘Live for the Story’ campaign as a way to re-position themselves among the younger generation within the Middle East. This campaign not only shows Haida telling her story but encourages her audience along with others to document and upload their story under the #Liveforthestory.

There has been an increase in the use of online services over the last few years with companies like Souq, Namshi and Jumia gaining 422 interactions per hour; overall depicting that e-commerce is growing quickly within the Middle East. Hence, to work with the right influencer would not only help a company benefit commercially but it would gain the followers trust thereby adding more users to their brand. Before we get carried away about the benefits of influencer marketing we also need to remember there are a few drawbacks; for instance difficulty in finding the right influencer for your brand or negotiating terms and services, rates as well as uncertainty of ROI’s.

Even then within the UAE certain companies have managed to tackle some of these issues take the example of Cicero and Bernay (C&B) launching their ‘See & Be’ campaign that matches the influencer with their ideal brand and vice versa. Being an influencer might seem like the ideal job but it is also has its own difficulties. Influencers like any other position are also liable to certain rules and ethics depending on where they reside and work (it varies). For instance within the UAE the National Media Council have added new regulations that require influencers to pay a fee if they earn from their collabs and promos. Keep in mind the intent is not to hinder influencers but rather to regulate them and their clients, to ensure that both get the best out of their partnership (including rates). Being an influencer is not only a job but a business as well. While many people may find it to be an unwarranted expense think about it like this; marketing agencies pay a licensing fee along with the fee for their trade license. Media hubs and publications also pay a fee to publish and broadcast their content. Influencers are a combination of both; they use media as their platform and also take on clients while earning an income for themselves. In other words it is like a business.

UAE residents are more likely to turn to social media influencers when looking for recommendations as a result the digital era in which we live in is now surrounded by influencers and is constantly evolving. Without actual regulations some might benefit a great deal while others might not. Either way it will be interesting to see how this platform evolves with the changes. Overall, influencer marketing for brands that have not begun to tap into this avenue should. Influencers are a part of the new age media we experience today and will become a domain in marketing that will grow with the rise of social media. In terms of the UAE, it is one that has many opportunities and venues to thrive within the country and is definitely here for the long haul.

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