The rise of the micro influencer

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Social media influencers in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region command some of the highest fees in the world, but their influence may be waning as micro influencers demonstrate better engagement. ArabClicks co-founder and chief executive officer Mauro Romano, who works with influencers, explains the importance of social media for brands

Since the advent of social media, the way businesses are run or promoted is changing fast. So are the marketing strategies, which now focus more on the billions of users of online networking websites. These developments have given birth to a new multi-billion-dollar industry - influencer marketing, in which popular online figures are paid to promote products and services within their social media feed.

Social media influencers in the GCC region have become one of the most important marketing tools for any kind of business today. Most brands, products and services are using influencers to reach a wider audience and to enhance their brand awareness.

In the Arab world alone, for example, there are about 164 million active Facebook users. Latest reports suggest that there are more than 200 YouTube channels in the region that have over a million subscribers. Around 30,000 Middle East-based YouTubers have more than 10,000 followers.

There are also some 12 million daily Snapchat users in the GCC – including nine million in Saudi Arabia and one million in the UAE – making up a huge audience for the promotion of goods or services. Businesses cannot overlook more than two-thirds of Arab youth, who first look to Facebook and Twitter for news. Even Instagram – a comparatively new online networking player that recently crossed the one-billion user mark globally – cannot be avoided while making marketing plans.

But then, making your presence felt in the cyber world is not as easy as it appears. This is where social media influencers come into the picture. The importance of social media influencers comes in line with the e-commerce business needs, where we can see today a very high competition to reach customers with new sales and marketing tactics. And, of course, this group of influencers with their ability to reach a large segment of the public at different levels is one of the best ways to reach the target audience almost instantly.

Social media influencers come in various shapes and sizes and across all kinds of niches. The ones with millions of followers on their respective social network – considered celebrities in their own right, with real, very passionate fans – top the list. There are many small influencers with a huge audience – usually below a million and in the hundreds of thousands.

The micro-influencers, meanwhile, have about 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Their networking is increasingly being used to promote businesses, particularly by startups and low-budget players. Interestingly, experts suggest that this category of influencers have more potential for bringing in business as most of their followers are unique and know them personally. Again, the trust level and engagement in one-to-one contact is considered to be higher.

When it comes to influencer marketing, one of the most common questions people ask is about the rates and payments. Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer to this as a number of factors decide the pricing. The size of the influencers’ following is the most common metric that is used to set influencer marketing prices but it is also important to consider their engagement level. A blogger with 5,000 followers may sometimes be more valuable than one with 20,000 followers.

Most influencers decide their own charges, unless they use online platforms such as Tapinfluence or AspireIQ that sets rates for them. Recent reports suggest that an average influencer with 100,000 followers on Instagram charges $1,000. Influencers on Snapchat generally seek up to $500 per campaign in 24 hours. Youtube users with 10,000 followers apparently demand the highest at $2,000. Charges for micro-influencers, meanwhile, start from as low as $5 per day.

If a brand seeks to work with micro influencers within a particular industry, there is a good chance that the influencer may already have relations with the brand’s competitors too. For exclusivity during the length of partnership, the influencers generally tend to charge more. However, there are no set rates yet as market forces are still streamlining the rule of the game, including the financial part, for this comparatively new but fast-growing sector.

Social media influencers in the region are leading from the front when it comes to adding authenticity and trust to a brand. Advertisers, 81 per cent of whom find influencer marketing quite effective, meanwhile are trying to encash the reach of popular figures on online social networking websites to promote their products and services. More startups are turning to social media influencers to popularise their engagements. In simple words, online social media provides a win-win situation to all its stakeholders by bringing them together through various platforms.


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