Influencer marketing is not dead. Yet this latest sensation in the digital marketing space has been receiving mixed responses from marketers around the globe. H&M recently introduced a new brand, Nyden that collaborates with youth stars to create lines of clothing that speak to their fan base. Adidas took its influencer marketing campaign offline by creating personalised billboards for its influencer community. Despite speculations regarding its success, Amazon’s influencer marketing program is still going strong since its launch last year.
However, on the flip side, among numerous such trending stories, a Dublin hotel took to social media, banning all social media influencers/bloggers from the hotel who they said come with a sense of entitlement. Pepsi faced massive backlash on its collaborative campaign with Kendall Jenner regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
From all the above examples, regardless of their success or failure, one thing is certainly clear – brands, big and small, are aggressively experimenting with influencer marketing. In fact, 70 percent of the top brands are using influencer marketing in some way or the other; with many shifting their budgets from traditional mediums to accommodate influencer marketing into their overall strategy.
Adidas Originals Surprised Influencers With Personalized Billboards for the Drop of a New Shoe
There is no denying that people no more believe everything they hear in an advertisement on TV or radio nor do they notice billboards or read posters as much as earlier. If there’s anything or anyone they do trust, those are the words that come from friends, family or someone they look up to. A Twitter and Annalect study unveiled that 49% of people rely on recommendations from influencers when it comes to making purchases.
According to Sprout Social, 74% of buyers make purchase decisions, even offline ones, based on social media. With marketers growingly dealing with customers who are quick to block ads and easy to trust individuals over faceless brands, influencer marketing seems to hold the key to a box of unexplored opportunities in building trustworthy and reliable relationships with potential customers.
So, is influencer marketing worth the risk for you?
A 2017 study by BPG Cohen and Wolfe reveals that 94% of the in-house marketers in Middle East believe that social media influencer marketing is very significant for the success of their brands, with 49% already working with influencers in the region.
Akanksha Goel, the founder of Socialize, validates the data by saying, “The Middle East is home to one of the youngest, most socially driven audiences in the world. Fifty per cent of the region’s population is under the age of 24 – double that of the US or the UK. This is a generation of digital natives who have grown up on social and digital platforms. For them, social media is a way of life. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the biggest user of YouTube per capita in the world. And much of what people are watching is created by young Arabs telling their own stories. These are the new influencers. Their content is homemade and in Arabic, which is in turn fuelling a cultural boom across the region.”
Regardless of the size, type and industry, influencer marketing can work wonders for your brand, if done right; especially when it comes to brand awareness and acquisition of new customers. It gives your brand an opportunity to open doors of conversations with its customers while remaining cost-effective at the same time. Word-of-mouth has always been a luring opportunity for marketers and influencer marketing is, undoubtedly, a powerful form of word-of-mouth recommendation. A McKinsey report suggests that customers acquired through word of mouth have 37% higher retention rates.
So, as you prepare to deep dive into influencer marketing, here are three recent trends to reflect on:
- Choose your influencers carefully: The source of the information is extremely important in deciding the success of the campaign, which is why you need to exercise extreme caution while choosing your influencers. In an attempt to reach out to niche markets, brands these days are investing in 30-40 smaller or micro-influencers with 200k or less followers instead of one large influencer. In short, a group of micro-influencers can achieve same or even better results than a macro influencer.
- Experiment with sponsored content: Social media ads have given way for sponsored content, which is a great way to influencer marketing. However, you must take note that it is mandatory for influencers to disclose that it is paid content as per FTC.
- Licensing for influencers: UAE’s National Media Council recently introduced a three-tier influencer legislation to resolve and regulate the social media platforms, aimed at protecting both brands and consumers. This move is expected to empower the influencer-brand partnerships to flourish in a mutually beneficial way.
Influencer marketing can definitely be the icing on the cake for your brand. Pretty much in its nascent stages, Middle East is expected to see a surge in brands partnering with influencers to reach out to their customers in building brand awareness and engaging with potential customers in the coming years.