Social Media Influencer: Know the Marketing Insights

Written by Yashwita Reddy, The Young Vision Ambassador (Since Mar 2019), S P Jain School of Global Management, Dubai & Neitya Pathania, The Young Vision Ambassador (Since 2017), GEMS Our Own English High School, Dubai & Siddarth Mohan Shekhar.

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From Robert Cialdini to Machiavelli, our fascination with what influences the masses has been resolute, the characteristics of which are changing, today more than ever. With the rise of the ‘Great Equaliser’ platform, or the Internet, influence has never been so accessible to the broad public, and the lucrative aspects of this field are being bountifully explored by a new line of work – social media influencing and marketing.

Previously unknown users suddenly revealed their influence to the point of undermining large corporations. They did so because they were able to meet three essential criteria: Initially, they enjoyed a certain range, or reach, in social networks, which gave a certain resonance to their message. In this context, it was the relevancy of their message that allowed them to exert their influence.

Influence in social media is not only based on numbers that measure a network’s range and the resonance of a message, but also, and most importantly, on individuals who inspire confidence and who can engage their audience through the relevance and value of their interventions. However, this aspect of influence cannot be measured with algorithms, as complex as they are.

9 differentiating factors of social media influencers

Reach: The importance of the influencer’s network, in terms of size (number of subscribers/followers/friends), as by the potential level of influence of those who are a part of this network.

Resonance: The impact of the message generated through social media.

Authority: The validity given, within the network, to both the message and the messenger.

Credibility: Credibility is as much about the reputation as it is about the authority granted to the influencer.

E-Reputation: The digital “DNA” and “fingerprint” of the influencer throughout the network.

Expertise: Recognition of the influencer through his or her achievements and professional activities.

Relevance: The accuracy and consistency of the influencer’s interventions and quality content related to the expectations of the network concerned.

Trust: A feeling of confidence as much about the relevance of the message as about the expertise of the influencer.

Engagement: The index value that is the most significant since it represents the final results of the influence used.

Prospects of the field:

  1. Workplace of choice: Individuals who engage in the field do not have to restrict themselves to any particular office environment and instead engage in environments that the follower is interested in alone.
  2. Engaging with followers from all across the world: Given a large enough following, the base of influence tends to travel across borders.
  3. The ‘M’ word: With top influencers racking up millions of dollars in ad revenue, the monetary benefit is clear.
  4. Upward Mobility: Most successful influencers, after acquiring a loyal fanbase, branch out to other platforms as well, allowing them to essentially become successful in these older rostrums as well. Case in point, popular Canadian-Indian YouTube comedian, Lilly Singh, branching out into her own NBC late night talk show.
  5. Loyal fans: The adoration that successful influencers receive from their fans is resounding.

Skills required:

  • Strategic Planning: One must define their strategies by exploring the various social media platforms online. This helps to outline your goals at the beginning and understand your target audience. One needs to comprehend the art of how social media works altogether. This field is all about strategically planning your creative ideas and channelling them into the most productive social media platforms. This skill helps the audience recognise ‘who you are’.
  • Targeted Communication: Establishing and building a digital relationship with your audience has always been considered a “treasured attribute”. One must have the skill to navigate the sphere of communication while promoting a respective brand. One must be able to effectively communicate with their target audience in order to improve viewer response. In short, one must be able to give a ‘voice to the brand’. This skill helps the audience identify ‘what you do’.
  • Creative: Having an eye for creativity couldn’t be more important and essential for this type of career. In order to stand out from the crowd, one must produce original, diverse and powerful visual content across all social platforms. The content must be able to connect to audiences at a personal level, which would be instilled in their minds for a long period of time.
  • Adaptive: This involves being on top of the latest digital marketing trends. Social media is not a singularity but an evolution of interesting and interconnecting trends. For example, visual image feeds have been on the rise in recent times. Therefore, adapting to trends becomes an integral part of this career.

Nuanced approach:

Following are a few nuances to be kept in mind:

  • Social Media Channel: There are numerous options of social media channels present online today. Selecting a channel that serves your best interests, as well as your followers, keeping in mind predetermined goals, would lead to successful social media marketing.
  • Social media content: One has complete freedom to post various content on this platform but along with freedom comes great responsibility. This platform is in reach of millions of viewers; therefore one must create content that is appropriate for the intended audience. A sense of humour in the content helps validate it better.
  • Budget: The preconceived notion that this field involves less investment but higher returns can be thoroughly false; in reality, it completely depends on one’s approach to posting their content online. One must select channels according to the available resources at hand. If the content is targeted at niche segments then pricy social media channels can be avoided.

Social Media Usage in UAE

Social Media has completely reshaped the digital landscape of the UAE in recent years. UAE has enhanced into the most digital-friendly country in the Middle East by creating a favourable environment for digital technologies through its infrastructure and policies. Also by promoting innovators, achievers, etc., through the means of social media; UAE has played its significant role in the promotion of social media and digital technologies.

According to the social media Statistics of UAE:

The total population of UAE in 2018 was 9.45 million, out of which the number of active internet and social media users were reported to be 9.38 million, which is 99.26% of the total population.

With these many active social media users, the scope for internet-based business in the UAE has expanded. So, any new and innovative apps looking to enter this market will have a large user base to target. There has been a sudden boost in the digital industry (including hardware as well software fields) in the UAE, increasing the social media usage.

Social Media Marketing has become the new method of direct marketing, after newspaper and flyers marketing. Social Media Marketing is a new trend for all companies in and around the UAE as it helps in expanding businesses and gaining recognition of companies, whether these are Real Estate Companies or Fast Food Companies. The easiest social media means to advertise are WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Ads, etc. Large numbers of people are available as target audiences on social media.

UAE-based companies, from real estate, electronics, fashion, food and beverage, all the way to educational institutions, are all using social media as a tool for spreading awareness about the various projects and products they have, whether by using stories on Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp or by uploading pictures and videos, or by taking survey polls.

 The following are “The Social Media Influencers” popular in the Middle East:

  • Karen Wazen: Lebanese Blogger and style icon
  • The Hala: YouTuber and Architectural Designer
  • Paola ElSitt: Fashion and Beauty Influencer

5 Rules for Using Social Media in the UAE

#1 – Do not post people’s pictures without permission.

Article 21 of Federal Law No. 5 of 2015 (or Cyber Crimes Law) states that “photographing others” without permission “shall be punished by imprisonment of a period of at least 6 months and a fine not less than AED 150, 0000.”

#2 – Respect people’s privacy and confidentiality.

Article 4 mentions that disclosing confidential information about a company or a person “shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine not less than AED 250,000 and not in excess of AED 1.5 million.”

#3 – Do not gossip or spread rumours.

Six months’ jail time and a fine of AED 250,000 await those who use social networks “for the purpose of defamation of or offending another person or for attacking or invading his privacy.”

#4 – Do not use illegal online channels.

Article 34 cites that those who use “communication services, audio, or video broadcasting channels (e.g. Skype) without legal right” shall face “imprisonment of at least 1 year and a fine not less than AED 250,000.” Fortunately, telecom company Etisalat has provided legal VoIP calling services as an alternative.

#5 – Do not post content that is offensive to Islamic morals and values.

According to Article 17, those who transmit inappropriate pictures going against Islamic morals and values “shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine not less than AED 250,000 and not in excess of AED 500,000.”