The Graduation from Influencer to Brand Ambassador
From bloggers, to vloggers to micro-influencers… the term most often coined in the 2017 ‘digisphere’ attracting both the public and brands was ‘digital influencers’. Who are they? What do they talk about? Why should we follow them? How can we engage with them?
Many influencers out there are working hard to curate authentic and engaging content about products or services they like or are willing to endorse. Why bother? Well, it works. In fact, influencer marketing has become a proven effective and affordable approach to organically increasing brand awareness and sales. Most importantly, the best paid are adept and delivering these benefits in a manner that feels "authentic" and creates a true sense of buy-in across their audiences.
In an interesting twist however, in June 2017, Instagram launched its ‘paid partnership with’ initiative, which highlighted sponsored posts by influencers and brands in a bid to be more transparent to users. This challenged many large commercial brands and influencers as the element of ‘trust’ for a product or service by fans and consumers alike was debated.
Digital influencers are on the rise in the Middle East, with 71% of UAE residents trusting social media influencers (Arabian Marketer 2017) as a source of information, up to millions of followers, these influencers can highly influence the ‘viral-ity’ of a brand. From a marketing perspective, spending money on advertising with influencers has become less effective and many brands have opted to create passionate brand advocates. These individuals are positioned as influencers who not only embody and champion in the brand's values, but who are also seeking a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship with that brand. Rather than opting for a "quick win", 71% of marketers believe that ongoing ambassadorships are the most effective form of influencer marketing. (TapInfluence & Altimeter, June 2016)
As reported in the New Yorker, “the Middle East is the fastest growing new market for ‘influencer’ strategy and execution. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are seeing a formalisation of influencer outreach as a business tool – cementing the need for transparency, measurement and success rates across the region”.
In February 2017, ITP Media Group hosted its first UAE Influencer Marketing Summit, with guest panellist, UAE social media star, Joelle, who has over 5 million followers:"When it comes to sponsorship I am super careful. They might watch but not believe what I am saying and preaching … so it is a very tricky thing and it takes a lot of thought and planning before I post”.
In the MENA region , and in regions the world over, collaborations with digital influencers are a no-brainer, and can be a sure fire way to promote brand awareness within communities and drive engagement. Yet as brands and PRs, we must be hyper-conscious of the sharp ability of the savvy modern audience to clue on quickly to "fake endorsements" and "one hit wonders". In the modern world of influencer engagement, the influencers eager and willing to become part of a brand story will not only serve to cement strong and fruitful ties with the brands themselves, but also built the powerful engagement with loyal followers.
How to identify the best influencers for your brand:
- Look for audience engagement (comments over likes)
- The community they reach (if the audience fits in with the target consumer)
- The quality of content and consistency of posting
- Previous collaborations that have helped increased sales
Good luck on your influencer endeavours!