'There's no such thing as a great influencer' - Talkwalker MENA on leveraging social media stars

Talkwalker MENA's head of digital communications says companies should vet influencers before striking a partnership.

Lama Abdelbarr, head of digital comms for Talkwalker, discusses successful influencer partnerships
Lama Abdelbarr, head of digital comms for Talkwalker, discusses successful influencer partnerships

According to media monitoring and social analytics company Talkwalker’s latest influencer marketing survey, almost two-thirds of companies quizzed ranked influencer marketing as a strategic priority for 2019.

Lama Abdelbarr, head of digital communications for Middle East and Africa, says that is no surprise, given that influencer marketing has been proven to deliver 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

But, she says, only if it’s done right.

Abdelbarr believes there are a strict set of guidelines Middle Eastern PR shops should adhere to when working with influencers.

"Define your own KPIs before you define them for your influencer," she said. "What are you looking for from this influencer partnership? Consider brand awareness, a shift in brand perception, content creation and direct boost in sales. If so, do you have a plan in place to track conversions from the influencer’s pages? And are your expectations in line with the average engagement rates of the influencer?

"An influencer could have millions of followers without having a lot of influence over them. They could have bought likes and comments – i.e. fake engagement. They could also have a limited, but highly targeted and engaged, niche follower base that is ideal for your brand.

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"If you want to deliver on your influencer marketing campaign, you need to start by measuring your own needs and ensuring they align with your influencers and social media platforms of choice."

Abdelbarr says companies also need to find the right influencer for their campaign.

"Don’t be blinded by reach," she said. "There is no such thing as a great influencer.

"One brand’s great influencer is not necessarily going to be a great one for your brand. In fact, an influencer who achieved great results for one of your campaigns, is not necessarily going to be a great fit for all of your campaigns.

"Think about your objectives strategically. Think about your target audience. Think about the kind of content the influencer creates. Do you see a connection? If you don’t, repeat this process with another influencer profile. Until you find the right one."

Abdelbarr says companies also need to vet the influencer.

"Deep dive into their statistics to identify any key patterns. Are their followers consistently engaged? Do they have suspicious (bot-like) comments that are spiking the engagement rates? Do their posts come across as being authentic and credible? Have they been involved in any controversies before? Are they or have they ever been associated with any of your competitors? Is the content of their posts entirely aligned with your brand values?"

Communication houses, says Abdelbarr, need to be "crystal clear" about all aspects of the partnership – without infringing on the influencer’s creative licence.

"While the connection you want to build is personal and human, don’t forget that this is ultimately a business transaction. For the partnership to achieve its maximum potential, you should ensure that you are on the same page as your influencer.

"Also, don’t fall into the trap of using analytics only at the start of your influencer campaign. The role of analytics doesn’t end with vetting the influencer’s social performance and history before partnering up with them.

"After both you and your influencer put a lot of hard work into the partnership, you need to be able to assess what worked and what didn’t, and report on results. It’s very important to have a powerful analytics tool that empowers you to analyse and optimise your influencer marketing performance."

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