If you’re looking to raise your brand awareness online, you may be considering collaborating with a social media influencer.
As marketing strategies go, it’s a very effective one – if you choose wisely.
Consider that in the UAE alone, almost 99% of the population are social media users. What’s more, it’s a young, dynamic, tech-savvy population, the vast majority of whom are influencer followers. Therefore, the region offers a golden opportunity for influencer marketing penetration.
According to YouGov data, three out of four UAE residents follow some kind of social media influencer. No wonder, then, that Dubai has been dubbed the ‘global hub for influencer culture’.
But as a startup with a limited budget, which influencers should you seek out? And do they really need to be celebrity-status to make an impact?
Here’s a look at the different types of influencers, the benefits they could bring, and what to consider when choosing the right one for your brand.
What exactly is an influencer?
As the name suggests, an influencer is someone who has the ability to influence other people. Their words, actions and content can affect the decisions and behaviour of others to the extent that they could even sway opinions and ways of thinking.
In some contexts, an influencer may be regarded as an authority source and thought leader.
In the world of business and e-commerce, an influencer with a strong social media presence can have a significant impact on people’s buying decisions. Brands use influencers to deliver their message to their desired target audience, enabling them to reach their customer base more easily.
This can be through various media, including:
- Guest posts
- Social media profile takeovers
- Brand ambassador programmes
- Unboxing and reviews
- Affiliate marketing
- Contests and giveaways
In short, when it’s done right, a social media influencer can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
What types of influencers are there?
Influencers tend to be categorised according to the number of followers they have:
Mega influencers (1 million + followers)
This is the premier league – the golden tier of influencers with the biggest global following. Think A-list celebrities such as Beyonce, who has over 300 million followers on Instagram, or super-rich billionaires such as Elon Musk, who boasts over 146 million Twitter followers.
However, the top spot for the biggest influencer in the world based on follower numbers goes to sporting superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese footballer, currently playing for Al-Nassr FC, Saudi Arabia, has an astounding 588 million followers on Instagram alone.
When it comes to niches, the beauty industry has benefitted the most from influencer marketing. Thanks to influencers and the power of social media, the global beauty and personal care industry has a current market worth of more than $USD 571 billion.
With almost 53 million loyal Instagram followers, Dubai-based makeup artist and beauty blogger Huda Kattan is the world’s most popular influencer in this incredibly lucrative niche.
As you’d expect, mega influencers demand mega bucks for their influential power. With such an immense reach, they’re most likely to collaborate with globally famous luxury and household-name brands that appeal to the masses.
Macro/Mid-tier influencers (50,000 – 1 million followers)
Macro influencers may not have quite the same reach as the mega group, but they can still be incredibly powerful advocates.
In this category, you’ll find many thought leaders and experts in their field. Therefore, reputation is everything. They can add value to brands because their knowledge and expertise are respected and highly sought-after.
Macro influencers also tend to have better engagement with their followers than mega influencers. In fact, many in the macro range have built their reputation from the internet rather than external exposure. They have spent time, over the years, building, curating, and engaging with a strong and loyal following.
Reaching one million followers on Instagram, Saygin Yalcin is a great example of macro influencing done well. This Dubai-based founder of ‘Sell Any Car’ is a great mentor for startups looking for business tips and advice.
A macro influencer can be especially useful for brands that want to reach the masses while maintaining a personal connection. As experts in their field, macro influencers tend to offer more authentic and familiar content than the mega celebrity group.
Micro influencers (10,000 – 50,000)
When it comes to influencer marketing for startups and SMEs, micro influencers are the most interesting group of all.
Don’t be put off by the smaller number of followers in this category. If you want to niche-down and target a specific audience, micro influencers can deliver the goods without the hefty price tag.
Most micro influencers are industry experts and specialists in specific topics. Their audiences may be smaller, but their opinions are well-regarded and respected because of their specialist knowledge base. As experts in their field, they tend to have more passion and drive, and are far more likely to engage with an audience that is genuinely interested in their content.
Consumers tend to buy from brands they know and trust. By having more personal and direct contact with their audience, many micro influencers are regarded as more authentic and genuine than celebrity influencers.
It’s not just smaller companies and startups that can benefit from micro influencers. Well-known tech companies such as Adobe, Squarespace, and even Microsoft, have also relied on the expertise of micro influencers to drive their marketing campaigns.
If you’re looking to target a very niche audience, collaborating with a micro influencer could be more effective than over-stretching your budget on a well-known name with a mass following.
How can a social media influencer benefit your business?
Thanks to the popularity of social media, influencer marketing has soared to new heights in the last few years.
According to the latest HubSpot Marketing Data Report, influencer marketing will grow significantly throughout 2023. Almost 90% of marketers currently engaged in influencer marketing have plans to continue or increase that investment this year.
And it’s easy to see why. The right influencer could:
- Boost your brand’s online presence
- Help build your brand’s credibility, authenticity and appeal
- Impact how followers perceive your brand
- Help you stand out against competitors
- Expose your brand to a wider audience
- Give you instant feedback by engaging with your target audience
For influencer marketing to be effective, you must pick the right influencer for your brand.
What should you consider when choosing an influencer?
Choose wisely, and your influencer could deliver a very healthy ROI. They can also prove to be an incredibly cost-effective marketing tool.
But you must get it right.
Here are some questions to consider when choosing a social media influencer for your brand:
- Do they fit your desired niche and reach?
- Do their audience/followers align with your own?
- What is their engagement rate?
- Do their values align with your brand’s?
- What type and quality of content do they produce – blogs, vlogs, short-form videos, images?
- What social media platforms do they use?
Obviously, you’ll also need to consider how much they charge. If you’re a startup with a limited marketing budget, it’s worth looking for an influencer in the micro or even nano range (1,000 – 10,000 followers).
The best influencer for your business doesn’t necessarily need to be a celebrity or highbrow thought leader. You may find an expert in your field with a smaller but more select following of people who make up your ideal target audience. They may even be looking for mutual collaboration with a brand to widen their reach. It could be a win-win situation for you both.
One final takeaway…
The most effective type of influencer might not be one with millions of followers and little engagement who charges a fortune to endorse your brand. Instead, it could be one who is genuinely interested in your business, your values, and what you are promoting – someone who can hit the mark, deliver your message, and engage with the people who really count: your target audience.