The first time I heard the term, I thought it was as if someone was down with influenza. I realised only belatedly that influencers were considering themselves worthy of being followed online and were even setting trends.

But now, the influencer tag is being loosely used... and abused. Everyone is an influencer and if you are not an one, you are a follower. So, what would you rather people perceive you as?

The only thing you have to do is appeal to the right audience either through a dress, a culinary expertise, or some such pursuit, and use the most popular hashtags. Your secret is that you have to be consistently persistent, as public memory tends to be really short and if they don’t see you at least three times a day they can forget you...

The key to being a good influencer is also not to be widespread and to actually stand for one area of specialization and belief, and not change them frequently. Ensure your content is personalized and always delivered to your audience at the right location and time. Increase the number of post impressions and video views by streaming live when your audiences are online.

Looking at it from the corporate viewpoint, this allows you as a business owner to create an ad without hiring models or photographers. It also allows potential customers to see your product not in the harsh light of some studio but as the glamorous life of an actual person. You can think of influencers as mini magazines; you want to place your ads only in those whose look fits your brand and appeals to your target.

Influencer marketing is having a moment right now. And, like any trend, there are those who are buying into it and those dismissing it as a fleeting, baseless fad. As traditional advertising methods fade, a new generation of young influencers are offering businesses their endorsements in exchange for cash or free merchandise. But is it worth it?

Unlike other forms of marketing, there is a feeling that influencers can build real connections with audiences. And 89 per cent of marketers feel influencers bring authenticity to their campaigns. Of course, it depends on the product and is not the only reason for a buying decision. But influencers can nudge your targets to at least consider the products and watch demonstrations.

Speaking to a market leader in beauty, Tips and Toes, it was evident that it was a match made in heaven, as we see an optimum following happening in this space, and tied to make-up demonstrations, etc. Apart from using them in sampling services and products, Tips and Toes ran an innovative campaign with three influencers, which was also followed up in-store.

And the result? One gave them Dh10 million in value by way of PR and the other Dh6 million. It was surely an investment, but the awareness goals were achieved.

One of the leading micro influencers going by the name of mea_gold felt this region has many global influencers who have upped the stakes and brought in a lot more professionalism and ethical practices. She endorses only products she resonates with, initially working with brands for free.

At the other end of the spectrum are influencers who have never been to exotic locations, but still use hashtags and pictures to show that they have. Some influencers even buy up likes and bulk up their numbers to make themselves more saleable.

It is important to see the kind of engagement they generate through the likes and comments for their posts. But there are genuine influencers who have worked on this for years and definitely give amazing RoI (return on investment).

I leave you to conclude for yourselves if you should use them or not, while I go create some hashtags of my own. Now, let’s see - #iamaleader #followme, #writearticlesforfree...

Sandy Nathan is Director of BDB Advertising and initiator of The Label Sticks, which showcases brand stories and personalities.