Image Credit: Jose Barros/©Gulf News

When done right, influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach relevant audiences and deliver results, which is why it will continue to spiral into a multibillion dollar industry over the next five years.

However, there’s no denying the stigma attached to the term “influencer” — from issues surrounding inflated pricing and diva demands to concerns about fake followers and lack of accountability. The recent innovative UAE legislation was a welcome step towards bringing order to a rapidly growing industry.

The National Media Council (NMC) recently implemented an e-media legislation with three clear tiers for the country’s influencers who want to continue collaborating with brands:

* Influencers can buy an individual licence (Dh15,000 plus trade licence)

* Influencers can buy a partnership licence (Dh15,000 + trade licence)

* Influencers can get registered under an official NMC-approved influencer agency.

With NMC-approved agencies being able to register influencers under their licence, they can continue to work on brand collaborations without footing the cost of an individual licence, so long as they are registered exclusively with one agency.

While everyone is talking about the benefits of influencer marketing campaigns, the reality is that it is a difficult, time-consuming and very manual process. Whether you’re an individual, an SME or a big brand, the same frustrations exist when trying to bring an influencer-led marketing campaign to life. These problems include finding and booking the right influencers, pricing issues, performance-tracking issues and concerns about the actual effectiveness of a campaign that you are investing time and money into.

As anyone with a vested interest in influencer marketing knows, finding genuine influencers is also a real issue in the industry; you have to distinguish between big numbers and real influence. We’re all aware of fake accounts, fake followers and fake engagement — this all exists in today’s social sphere. However, platforms — like Brand Ripplr — are implementing tech solutions that allow for a vigorous vetting process.

Real influence

This means being able to detect the real from the fake and deliver insights on influencer audiences, alongside data-centric campaign results. There are thousands claiming the influencer status, but brands need to understand the data behind the social media masks in order to determine whether or not they have real influence. The audience size, engagement, and audience demographics all need to be analysed.

As such, platforms have evolved to facilitate the process through from start to finish. We are following in the NMC’s footsteps when it comes to advocating not only the transparency of paid collaborations but also the transparency of its influencer terms. We will not shut the door on brand opportunities for its influencers nor charge additional costs to brands.

The reasons behind this are simple: we want our influencers to have the ability to create content with a variety of brands. They also need the flexibility to work with the right brand and, likewise, brands need the flexibility to tap into the right talent.

The need for influencer marketing solutions stems from the social shift that’s happening. Rather than using one or two macro influencers, brands are investing in the micro influencers, with the assistance of platforms that can assist with the logistics, insights and performance of running such campaigns effectively.

Targeting key consumers

In a nutshell, a group of micro-influencers can achieve the same (or better) results as a macro-influencer for a lot less money! While their following maybe smaller in size, they have highly-engaged and trusted audiences who follow them as a result of shared interests, whether that be fitness, beauty, travel etc. On top of that, the engagement percentage of a micro is significantly higher than that of a macro, so when you group them together, you can tap into multiple audiences and measure a far greater impact overall.

It’s evident that brands are now waking up to the over-commercialisation of macro influencers. They are tapping into the behavioural trends of their consumers who are statistically proven to be much more likely to follow the recommendation made by a micro. Overall, it’s about targeting your key consumers and ensuring you reach them through the right people.

Working with micro-influencers is not only a move that triggers better ROI, it is also a safer option for brands since the micros do not have the celebrity status that can cause a global outcry. We will determine the level of engagement and deliver relevant, quantifiable data for those investing in influencer marketing campaigns, thus taking out key risks for businesses and brands.

Unless the likes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat disappear, influencer marketing won’t be going anywhere. Brands will need to work with ad-tech platforms and connect with aligned content creators for compelling campaigns that can reach relevant audiences via social media channels.

The introduction of the UAE’s e-media regulations is a sure sign that all parties — influencers, brands, agencies and consumers — need to understand, more than ever, the importance of transparency and step up to global advertising standards. Influencer marketing is here to stay, so it’s time for us all to become more socially savvy, budget conscious and data driven.

— Tanaz Dizadji is founder and CEO of insydo & Brand Ripplr.