Influencer Marketing in the Middle East

by Alexandra Mezhonova on Wednesday 16 August 2017

The growing power of social media influencers is something that is becoming an intrinsic part of our day to day lives. With the leading names gaining more and more selling power, marketers are keen to collaborate and take a piece of the profitable pie. When looking into the Middle East, in particular, social media and influencer marketing is more prominent than ever, with this being the number one reason for people surfing the web. More than 90% of consumers in the region trust customer recommendations over branded content.* Although the platforms used are similar to those used in the west, there are distinct differences in terms of expectations and usage patterns that have developed in the region.

When looking into the most popular social networks in the Middle East, - the reported user numbers for both Facebook and Twitter have stalled and in some cases even declined, whereas Instagram is currently rocketing above all other platforms. Instagram has recently released biddable advertising formats in the Middle East which have been hugely fruitful for the company, and have helped brands increase their reach on the highly influential platform.

It can be argued that in the Middle East social media is far more of a commercial tool than elsewhere. This is due to the readiness of consumers to purchase a product after just one interaction with the brand, with less research taking place in between. In the West, there are far more touch points between brand awareness and actual purchase, although social media does play an important role in this.  In a survey for PwC Middle East (2016) it is calculated that 52% of shoppers in the Middle East say that receiving promotional offers through social media influences their shopping decisions straight away, resulting in direct buying (compared to 44% globally), and 63% think more highly of their favourite brands after engaging with them on social media (43% globally).

Influencers in the Middle East also play an important role in linking international markets to local trends. As with other regions, there are a group of highly authoritative names, who share their opinions on fashion, lifestyle and upcoming trends, which are widely read and respected amongst their audience. Figures such as Fozaza (Alanoud Badr), Karenwazenb (Karen Wazen Bakhazi) and Ascia_akf (Ascia Al-Faraj) are big names in the region. Brands often work directly with these opinion leaders to help build brand awareness and increase online conversions. This means that measuring and reporting on the uplift in ROI from these types of campaigns have become imperative in ensuring we are utilising the channel to its full extent.

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In response to this, the ‘Influencer Marketplace in the GCC’ has recently launched, which includes the ability to measure performance within Instagram. Not only does the tool measure the performance of the top performing Instagrammers in the GCC, it also filters them via vertical making it extremely useful for marketers. It also offers a wide range of metrics - based on proprietary re-weighting of engagement and visitor stats - such as engagement rates, follower demographic analysis and much more.

The tool is a fantastic resource for advertisers in the region and can help bring influencer marketing campaigns to the next level. 

**Source: Neilson, “Influencer Marketing Can Yield Big Returns”, 2015