Image Credit: Agency

DUBAI: Over the past decade, advertising has shifted focus from targeting mass markets to creating ads specifically for you and me. Think back to the last time you decided to make a purchase or try out a new restaurant. Did someone tell you about it, or did you see it on social media? If you are between 15 and 35 years of age, you most likely saw it on a social platform. Whether it was a promoted ad, an influencer dining at the newest spot in town or a YouTube vlogger trying a new mascara product on themselves. Influencer marketing is the new age of advertising.

Advertisers used to create ads for the masses, that would only target a very small percentage of their demographic. These days, social media marketing breaks down advertising barriers in a way no other medium has worked until now. It has been called ‘conversation marketing’ where the focus is on one consumer, and on one message at a time.

Who are influencers?

Social media influencers don’t just sell products — they sell a lifestyle. They sell hotel stays, parties, events and the products that give you a ticket to enter that elusive life.

The aim is to inspire people to buy more, to eat better, to live healthier and to stay in five-star hotels when travelling. Influencers travel, shop and get pampered, all with the hopes that people will follow suit.

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing where the focus is placed on influential people, who will use their following to promote a product, service or experience.

Why do brands need social media influencers?

There is no denying that social media influencers are a great tool that allows advertisers to increase awareness about their products.

The volume of businesses using influencer marketing has increased substantially over the last four years.

Whether it is portrayed as product reviews, make-up tutorials, cooking videos or arts and crafts, everything is instant and delivered right to people’s feeds. Therefore, advertisers found a way to get straight into people’s feed and influencers found a way to make money from living out their passion.

Public relations professionals worldwide now need social media influencing for the sole reason that brand equity is now measured in relationships and not by technology or data. This relationship and conversation is interactive and has become the new way to maintain a brand’s image.

Regulation is imperative

Social media influence is everywhere for people who use the internet. From Facebook and YouTube to Instagram and Snapchat, you are looking at regular people consuming products, content and services.

As peers on a platform, you look at them for reviews on products, for lifestyle choices, for shared interests and more.

In the scenario where a social media influencer could have from a few thousand to a million people waiting for their views or their recommendations, the power these influencers wield is substantial. As the cliché goes, with great power comes responsibility, or in this case does it? Who holds responsibility for the consequences of decisions made by these millions of followers?

These questions are becoming more relevant by the day as social media grows in its reach.

Let’s hear it from the social media influencers

Do you think the new influencer law will change anything in the way you live and work?

Naomi D’Souza. 
Food Influencer, based in Dubai

I think the objective of this new law is definitely to induce change in the industry. The number of influencers will drastically reduce since many of them might not want to invest so much money if they aren’t serious about their blog.

“I think the law would weed out the bloggers who are just doing what they do for the freebies and this would pave the way for the serious influencers to get what they deserve for all the hard work they put in.”

Jannat Miranda, Fashion Influencer, based in Dubai

I definitely think that the introduction of the new law has created a lot of awareness about practising the work we do as ‘bloggers’ or as I like to call them ‘instant online reporters’.

“After attending a summit and learning about the new laws and rules about acquiring trade licences for influencers, it definitely makes more sense to register your blog as an official brand.”