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The impact of social media influencers on driving consumer brand awareness, especially among millennials, has reached record highs in the UAE.

A new research shows that 94 per cent of in-house marketeers in the UAE believe social media influencer marketing is now very significant for the success of their brands.

New data from the second edition of the BPG Cohn & Wolfe Influencers Survey, in association with YouGov, showed that almost half – 49 per cent – of those polled currently work with social media influencers in the region to market their brand. This represents a significant shift from traditional advertising methods.

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Tapping digital community

The survey interviewed over 100 in-house marketing and communication experts and brand managers across a diverse range of industries in the UAE to assess current trends in the use of social media influencers in marketing programmes.

A vast majority of brands believe that influencer marketing enabled them to tap into the digital community and more effectively reach their target audience. They also believe that it resulted in a good marketing return on investment (ROI).

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Creating ways to tell the story

BPG Cohn & Wolfe is the strategic public relations business of the BPG Group, one of the region’s longest established larger integrated marketing communications businesses, and commenting on the results Group CEO Avi Bhojani said: “Brands are now, more than ever before, relying on creative new ways to tell their story in a highly competitive landscape and are using social media influencers as a key part of their overall marketing strategy. The findings from our survey reveal that a majority of consumer brands in the UAE believe that they can reach the right target audience if they work with social media influencers.”

Taghreed Oraibi, BPG Cohn & Wolfe PR Director – Consumer Practice, added: “Almost half of all brands, 45 per cent, said they have appointed agencies to manage social media influencers, while 63 per cent use an influencer directory to source influencers’ contacts and manage the engagement themselves. It shows that the market is definitely getting more sophisticated and focused on using digital platforms for customer engagement and conversations.”

Large following counts

Participating brands also identified some of the key attributes they looked for in social media influencers. Topping the list at 39 per cent was that the influencer must be a popular person in the community and have a large following and appealing content.

But the biggest challenge identified by brands was “finding relevant influencers” that topped the list at 55 per cent. This was followed by “negotiating terms and conditions” at 41 per cent, and “communicating during an assignment” at 39 per cent.

The survey also revealed that a majority of influencers expect to be compensated based on the number of deliverables (posts, images, videos, etc.), rather than the success of a campaign through actual and measurable results (driving up sales, website visits, etc.). Only six per cent of marketeers said that they compensated influencers based on such results or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

Growing budgets

Budgets for social media marketing are also growing, with 43 per cent of brands indicating that they had spent anywhere from between US$1000-10,000 per social media influencer campaign in the UAE.

But many will invest more and 34 per cent indicated that they would spend anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 on a single social media influencer campaign. The majority of marketeers, 63 per cent, said that they believe the fees requested by social media influencers are reasonable.