Online influencers can be effective PR

These days, it is not unheard of for influencers to charge excessive amounts for brand collaborations, some as much as Dh50,000 per post.

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Last year, Dubai held the region’s first Social ­Media Influencers Summit – a testimony to the growing importance of influencer marketing in the region. These days, it is not unheard of for influencers to charge excessive amounts for brand collaborations, some as much as Dh50,000 per post. So what makes them so important and why do brands target them?

What makes an influencer an influencer?

An influencer is not merely defined by the number of followers they have but by their ability to resonate with their followers and induce a call to action. For a company, these are individuals who have influence on potential buyers. For example, fashion brands like Gucci, Cartier, Roger Vivier and Dolce & Gabbana have executed campaigns with Dubai-based fashion and lifestyle blogger Zahra Lyla. When Burberry launched its global trench coat campaign in the Middle East, they organised a photo shoot with local influencers from the region, including TV presenter Raya Abirached, Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa and others. The pictures were then posted on Burberry’s social media to generate interest and a greater fan following in the region.

By working with such popular influencers, brands hope to increase reach by gaining access to the influencer’s followers, most of whom are their target demographic.

Identifying the best one for you

You can do a broad search initially by searching for keywords or hashtags related to your industry. You can then rank them by the number of followers they have across the key social media channels that your target audience favours, how often they are posting content related to your brand, number of times their content is shared, liked or commented on. This can be done manually or by using specialised software that tracks influencers by various criteria.

Following this, you can narrow down your list based on how relevant the influencer is to your brand, whether they enjoy a good reputation online, if they have ever mentioned your brand in a negative manner, how engaged their followers are and what the potential reach would be if you decide on a collaboration with them.

Why is influencer marketing gaining momentum?

An influencer’s endorsement has the ability to move the market at a faster pace than traditional forms of marketing. PR agencies are now offering influencer marketing as a service. These companies maintain contacts with top influencers in the market for various categories like hospitality, beauty, fashion, parenting, travel and culinary.

Targeting the influencer you want to work with

Marketing and PR companies increasingly consider influ­encers an important part of their campaigns. Identifying and targeting these influencers is key. To do so, follow and build a relationship with them. You can do so by providing insights about the topics they are interested in. Commenting and sharing their posts shows your interest in their content. Also ask their opinion on topics related to your brand, listen to their viewpoints and make use of it in your content. Do not forget to give them credit for their suggestions. Building a bond with them is the first step.

This relationship can then result in collaborations for campaigns, content creation and product reviews that will help both parties to increase their influence and gain more targeted followers.

How to negotiate

Once you have made a list of influencers who align with your brand, the next step is to write a pitch to collaborate on a campaign. You can also ask them for their media kit to know their rates. You can look at different ways to collaborate if their rates do not match your budget. For example, a campaign that requires only one blog or instagram post will definitely be at a lower rate than a campaign that requires a month-long commitment of giveaways or everyday/frequent posts. You can negotiate a rate depending on your requirement. Although some influencers are justified in charging what they ask for, do a careful study of how engaged their followers are. After all, you do not want to spend your marketing budget on campaigns that do not deliver value.

Zubair Timol is the partner and area director for India, the Middle East and Africa at Meltwater, a media intelligence company