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For influencers, each action carries a price tag

They are usurping many of the traditional functions of traditional media

Gulf News

Dubai

Choosing to be a social media influencer as a career path can be quite the choice. And we are not even talking about the Kardashians.

These days, they are to be seen at just about every society do, launches and cosy “get-to-know-the-brand” gatherings. More often than not, they are the ones doing the tasks that media professionals used to do. For influencers, the perks don’t end there.

There is no penning 1,000-word pieces before deadline or having to cart-around cameras or video equipment in 40-degree plus weather. The only need to have a smartphone, a sound-byte of a few characters and a photo to go along with it, and then post them on to their social media platform. And they get paid for these efforts from the very people who invited them over. (That could be $1,000 (Dh3,670) for a 20-60 minute presence at an event. Clearly, each action has a price tag to it.)

As a career choice, influencers do live the high life. One local fashion influencer got to walk the ramp for a global brand. Even those who don’t get anywhere near a catwalk still look the part — immaculately coiffed and turned out in designer garb. (At some of the local launches, they do tend to stand out in the crowd. There is absolutely no comparison with those representing the traditional media pool.)

“A few days back, @yoursingapore_arabia took the top food bloggers from Dubai to Singapore to establish the latter’s presence as a food, culinary and lifestyle destination,” said Rakesh Kumar, CEO of the marketing services firm Human.

But in choosing influencers to align with, marketers still need to pick on the right one. “Today, one issue is the role of self-proclaimed social media influencers who don’t have a strong reach but by virtue of “buying” followers they can establish a strong role for themselves,” said Kumar.

“The role of influencers is limited to being part of the social media mix rather than a standalone (marketing) strategy for brands. In fact, studies reveal they stand at number three after brand sites and retail sites.

“A lot of the times influencers function as paid media — which is good for the brand and aligned with their positioning. However, if left to the influencers to do “any talking”, it can certainly create a wrong social voice. Influencers work well as a part of the mix but not as the core focus to create social media talkability.”

According to Rishi Talwalker, Director at Apco Worldwide, the rules of the influencer-driven game are still being formed. “There are inherent inefficiencies due to many variable factors, Talwalker added. “Especially because influencers don’t follow a uniform code of ethics, synonymous with more traditional media.

“There is a need for clients to be guided more diligently by well-intentioned marketers and PR teams, who are more adept at navigating this landscape.”

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