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The Rise of Influencer Marketing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Khalipha Ntloko

Nov 24, 2020

The world of social media and influencer marketing has proven to become an important part of any marketer's online strategy. There has been an increase in the consumption of digital media during lockdown, especially content types such as videos.

According to a recent YouGov survey, KSA residents reported an increase in online activity during COVID-19, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. These activities included socialising online, browsing on social media, and watching online content. But where does influencer marketing come into play?

Influencers have taken a great hold of this increased demand in digital media, and we have witnessed the boom of TikTok and Instagram Reels. If your brand isn't doing the same, you will get left behind.

So, to understand why influencer marketing has become so popular in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, let's first unpack what influencer marketing is and what it looks like within these two regions.

Tip: Learn more about media in Saudi Arabia and media in the UAE.

What is influencer marketing in the UAE?

The word ‘influencer’ has become increasingly commonplace in today's digital landscape and marketers should understand how they can be valuable to your business before running your next campaign.

What was once limited to celebrities and well-known bloggers and content creators, social media 'influencers' have been on the rise as people started to listen to these individuals, who are considered as experts within their particular niche.

Influencer marketing works and is highly successful because of the amount of trust that these social media influencers have built up with their following and community. The recommendations and advice from them are seen as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

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Google searches for 'influencer marketing' have grown over 1500% in the last 3 years, with no sign of slowing down. To get a better sense of influencer marketing, and the value it can provide for your brand, download our ultimate guide to influencer marketing to get everything there is to know about influencer marketing.

A Quick Look at Influencers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

In the Middle East, there have already been just over 1 400 news articles that mention 'influencer' and over 1 500 social media mentions on 'influencer' in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia alone in 2020, a 34% increase as compared to 2019. In essence, more people in these two regions are talking about influencers and their emergence over this year.

But how do people feel about influencers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia? Throughout the year, there have been mixed emotions from online users in the region.

In March 2020, a Dubai-based influencer told their 42 000 follower base to ignore self-isolation regulations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and to simply go outside. This was not received well, and contributed to the negative feelings that people had towards influencers and how they use their influence on social media.

As reported by Arab News, a Dubai fitness influencer had their connection with Reebok suspended over comments the influencer made regarding the global pandemic.

But it hasn't been all bad for influencers. In June 2020, the need for influencers was becoming more apparent to online users, as digital transformation and online pivoting of marketing strategies became necessary to adjust to the effects of the pandemic.

From consuming more content to forecasting influencer marketing trends, many online users have seen the value of social influencers - and brands need to do the same.

meltwater screenshot of sentiment analysis for influencer and influencer marketing in the uae and saudi arabia

The Success of Influencer Marketing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Social media influencers exist on a number of online platforms - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter; TikTok and more. But how does the presence of influencers look like in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

According to a survey conducted by the BPG Group and YouGov, 85% of millennials in the UAE and Saudi Arabia follow at least one social media influencer, and “entertainment” is ranked as the most followed category on these platforms. When it comes to the trending themes surrounding 'influencers', these include:

  • 'influencer marketing' which refers to online conversations that have taken place throughout the year to discuss influencer marketing in the region
  • 'advice from influencers' which refers to how online users favour taking advice from an influencer over a brand
  • 'campaign' which refers to Swarovski celebrating Ramadan for a campaign, as well as a Dubai-based influencer garnering negative attention after being disingenuous towards the UAE's "stay-at-home" campaign
meltwater trending themes on influencer in uae and saudi arabia

But as the data shows, influencer marketing has quite the presence on social media, and can be effective when executed right as consumers and users tend to trust influencers more than traditional advertising.

Social media mentions of influencers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been predominant on Twitter, with 'influencer' have a consistent social reach on the platform of over 100 000. In April, 'influencer' had a total social reach of just over 4 Million, as online conversations in the two countries centered around the new challenges that influencers and influencer marketing were facing in light of the global pandemic., as mentioned by Arab News.

meltwater screenshot of social reach for 'influencer' in uae and saudi arabia

According to the social media influencers survey by BPG Group and YouGov, 73% of consumers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have purchased from a brand or tried a service mentioned by an influencer. The success of influencer marketing is there for the taking!

How to Find the Right Influencers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

The social media influencer industry is about brands wanting to relay a message to their target audience by using a selection of influencers who fit within a particular niche. These influencers promote your brand to their community, creating a quick way to reach wider audiences and potential new customers. In return, influencers are compensated either monetarily or with free products and other benefits from the brand.

To find the right influencers for your brand, you need to evaluate social influencer marketing tools and influencer management platforms - for example, Klear's Social Influencer Software - to search for and start narrowing down your options based on the answers you get from the criteria you're looking to meet (such as target audience, niche and influencer following). From here, you want to contact these influencers to ask for their media kits and rate cards, as a way of helping you gather more data and information about their followers’ demographic and the budget required to work with them.

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Once you have found the right influencers that you want to work with, make sure that you check analytics before, during, and after any social media influencer marketing campaign. Using a social listening tool, you can measure the performance of your campaign based on the number of mentions, engagement rate, potential social reach, and other social media metrics.

From here, you can assess and analyse which aspects of your campaign worked well and which ones didn’t, in order to better optimise your influencer marketing campaigns in the future.

Here you can find more information about our Media Monitoring Solution in Arabic.

Want to learn more about how you can use influencers to take your brand to the next level? Request a free demo of Meltwater's Social Influencer Tool today!

Did you know? Meltwater's interface is now available in Arabic!