After recently talking to Meltwater about how to build an influencer marketing campaign with an impact, I wanted to take a few moments to share with you what I believe to be the next influencer marketing trends to look out for in the Middle East.
Here are 9 main trends for influencer marketing in a quick 6-minute read.
Trend Number One: Data will dominate the conversation
Brands are becoming more aware when it comes to working with influencers so moving forward brands will start to demand more data. The most common data will be about an influencers audience as well as campaign performance as marketers need to understand (not to mention, justify the cost for) how their money is being spent. With data that’s focused on the true reach and impact on an influencer, spending on influencer marketing campaigns will become more common.
This will include basic demographics like location (is the influencers audience where the marketer needs it to be?), engagement rates for different content types (e.g. does their sponsored content fly or fail?), and deeper analysis of fraudulent audiences.
Trend Number Two: Fake influencers will be caught red-handed and swiped out
We’ve all read about the New York Times article on fake influencers. I mean let’s be real, for the price of a few dollars, any social media user can buy a thousand of fake followers. This creates a new generation of “fake” influencers i.e. people who amassed large fan base, but they didn’t do it with their own work, instead, they bought them.
When I talk to younger people such as my nephew and hear that their dream job is to be an influencer it shows me one thing; everyone wants to be a social media super star these days. We can expect a number of these fake-fluencers to rise but agencies and brands alike will need to be smart and aware of the influencers they are choosing for their campaigns or they will be left in hot water once they work with a fake-fluencer because their marketing efforts will fail and take down the entire strategy with them.
An easy way to go about this problem is to implement an airtight process for vetting and choosing influencers. Don’t focus on the number of their followers only, but monitor their engagement too. Bought followers rarely interact or engage, meaning that person will have low engagement rate despite large fan base although it is worth mentioning that many fake-fluencers are actually smart. They buy both followers and engagement constantly, which means you’ll need to use influencer marketing tools to vet them out.
Trend Number Three: Influencer campaigns move to always-on
While many brands that have recently joined the influencer marketing band wagon, will still have project-based influencer marketing campaigns as they experiment with influencer marketing as a touchpoint for the first time, many other brands will constantly recruit and use influencers regularly.
We see this within the market with brands from various sectors such as fashion and retail. IKEA, Careem, Samsung and so many other brands include influencers constantly in their marketing messages.
In addition, more brands will move their best influencers to formal brand ambassador relationships and a whole new discussion around how those relationships should be structured will emerge. We will likely see a number of power middle influencers declare ambassador relationships with power middle brands.
Trend Number Four: Laws and Regulations will rise for Influencer Marketing
As influencer marketing becomes more trending, consumers have a right to be protected and disclosure will most probably become mandatory. This also goes in line with many GCC countries recently implementing VAT, which means we could see a regulation of influencer marketing campaigns where influencers will need to be registered in order to work with brands. This will in return make relationships between brands and influencers legally correct and easier for big companies to ensure they’re fully protected when collaborating with an influencer.
Trend Number Five: Influencer content becomes just as important as an influencers audience
We’ve touched base on this during the webinar with Meltwater from a ‘How much should I really be paying an influencer?’ point of view. On the other hand, we also see influencer agencies and managers promoting content creation as one of the core benefits of an influencers alongside their audience and reach. This highlights the emerging naming battle between “influencers” and “content creators”.
While YouTube creators will continue to produce amazing content that threatens traditional media outlets, the opportunity for influencer created content (without their audience) is inflated.
Many large digital agencies will feel the pressure of not being able to charge $500,000 USD for video production when an influencer can do it for $100,000 USD but this will be a small phenomenon with limited impact. None the less, what is still hard is building an audience. That will continue to be the true value of influencers.
Trend Number Six: Promoting influencer content will become a part of most campaign budgets
With organic reach decreasing on social media platforms both brands and influencers alike will start to look across all the content that was produced by an influencer for a campaign and selectively promote the best posts. For a small amount of additional money, the best working parts of a campaign can be amplified and having more audience data will only increase this practice. Now before you go and say I’m crazy, keep in mind that the best influencers and agencies have already been doing this quietly in the background. I’ve personally been doing this for clients during the past year.
Trend Number Seven: Bloggers and YouTube surge
The minute the word influencer is said, you usually think of Instagram as it has always been an easy way to experiment with influencer marketing. Instagram influencers are easy to find, don’t cost a lot and the content is relatively quick to create. Instagram has taken good measurements to encourage influencers to create content and provide brands with data in recent updates but its lack of measurability will drive brands who want to spend bigger budgets back to other platforms such as YouTuber content creators. Larger brands will circle their wagons around YouTube due to the combination of scale, boostability, OOT advertising, and measurability.
Trend Number Eight: The rise of micro influencer marketing tools and software
Micro influencers serve a different purpose and different business objective than influencers or celebrity influencers but to move the needle, you’ll need a lot of micro influencers at once. To be quite frank about it, discovering, reaching out to, negotiating with, tracking, and paying let’s say 25 micro influencers on a campaign is still way too hard. Solutions will emerge to help brands (and influencers) run scale collaborations with less effort. We’ve already seen many tools born in the UAE to do this but the real question lies within the fact that the majority of them are not user friendly, do not provide brands with what they want and do not have a solid database of micro influencers (active app users).
Trend Number Nine: Influencer agencies will get a seat at the table.
When I used to go into a meeting room with chief marketing officers and brand managers and say the word influencer, I was stared at and sometimes instantly faced rejection. Nowadays, I get constant calls early on to consult brands on the campaign planning process that has influencers as a touch-point.
Brands now see the value in tapping specialized agencies for the perspective they can bring, not only with respect to the influencer marketing component but to the digital marketing process as a whole. When influencer agencies get a seat at the client’s table, the results lead to more effective and memorable campaigns.
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Those were the nine trends to look out for when it comes to influencer marketing in the Middle East. If you’d like to learn more about influencer marketing, please feel free to join me in partnership with AstroLabs for a full day Influencer Marketing A-Z workshop.
Find me on all social media platforms @mikealnaji.