Social Media “Influencers” with no influence


I have attended the Media Network breakfast event today that was intended as a panel discussion around Online Brand Reputation topic. It inevitably transitioned into an influencer marketing debate and how it influences brands’ reputation. It turned out that a lot of communication professionals are asking the same questions: Are these influencers really influential? What audience are they appealing to? Should we pay them? Will they follow agreed brand guidelines? Are we building “influencer relations” or are we advertisers who pay them for ads on their respective social media pages?

I am not promising to answer all these questions, but there are probably a few great takeaways you can all benefit from our discussion:

The impact

How influential is the influencer if he/she influences audiences your brand doesn’t want to influence? Let’s take for an example a Dubai based Instagram star that may have only 20% of his followers from this country and 80% scattered everywhere else. Let’s try to do the math. If the guy (or girl) has 30K followers, only 6K are from Dubai and if that influencer has a very good engagement rate, that would be 5% in the best case scenario. And that means if his Dubai followers are interacting with his content, your brand will have a chance to get 300 likes from relevant audiences. Out of 300 they might as well expect 20 people to genuinely care about your brand and have some real interest in buying your products or services. A KOL with 30K followers will ask you to pay something around AED 1,500 per Instagram post which makes it AED 75 per relevant lead. Is it worth it? I don’t think so. What is the solution? Careful selection of who you collaborate with as their numbers don’t mean anything. And this leads us to another aspect of the influencer relations.


Forget about Huda Kattans and Bin Bazs of this world, these are gems in the world full of “selfie” made influencers with 10K followers gained for their looks. There was a lot spoken about “documenting my lifestyle” type of influence. While I agree there are plenty of influencers who cater for an audience that is only interested in the appearance of a person, whether a good looking model or a handsome man, communications professionals need to ask themselves a very important question: Do we want the brand we represent to be associated with such an influencer?

No offence, but how many more “lifestyle documenting” gurus do we need? Is it useful? Does it add value? Maybe it does for certain demographics, but do we want our brands to be speaking to those demographics? Hardly…


Collaboration = Advertorial content

Your influencer is big, relevant and really really influential. You agreed on paying X amount of dirhams for X amount of posts. All is good, your blogger is praising your product while obedient followers run to the store to buy it. This is the perfect scenario in the perfect influencer marketing world. But should influencers start being transparent about their collaborations? When we read a magazine, we know that all these pages are paid for and it is advertising, it is not something the editor of Vogue or Cosmopolitan personally likes and promotes to spread the word about brands’ amazing quality. Why doesn’t this happen when it comes to influencer marketing? Brands would argue that native ads drive better results so why should we not fool our buyers into thinking that their favorite influencer is into your brand? But the key word here is “fool”. The less genuine influencers are, the less credibility they will have and less ROI your brand will have when you invest in “collaboration” with such KOLs.

Nobody said ads are not effective.  Ad campaigns are even more effective when done through media that has the most engagement (our influencers in our case). There is no need to be dishonest about the nature of your brand relations with the blogger. I was once turned down by LuAnne D’Souza from Weesha’s World as she was not interested in the brand I was representing. She just said: “Sorry I don’t like this brand so I can’t promote it and tell my followers I like it”.  Are there any more Weesha’s left in this industry? Or as long as we pay by the rate card influencers will “collaborate” with any brand?

These are all the questions we want answered sooner rather than later. While at present Influencers’ marketing in the Middle East is not as mature as in other parts of the world, Comms Pros strongly believe it is evolving and hopefully this evolution will make much more sense and Key Opinion Leaders will have a genuine opinion and will be truly influential.