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  • The art & science of influencer marketing in the GCC

    August 27, 2020

    If you’re like us, the frustration of understanding the ROI of influencer marketing in the GCC is difficult to get a handle on.

    Sure, tools exist, but none are built for the Arabic-speaking world, so results are patchy at best. Identifying fraud, the right audience and actionable content insights are always difficult to extract, until now. More on that later.

    There’s no denying that the GCC is one of the most social, connected and peer-recommendation driven in the world. Influencers are here to stay, but how do we leverage the real, impactful ones from the pretenders? Our Sila tool here is here to answer this with new insights into Instagram and TikTok.

    In our examples we use an example of the food sector, for your sector it follows the same process, the data will obviously be different.

    Planning a campaign

    Start at the start – like any marketing campaign, there are three core areas you need to consider:

    • The objective of the influencer campaign – reach (education, awareness e.g impact) or engagement (education, action – eg. trial).
    • The science of influencer selection (leave nothing undiscovered to maximise budget spend).
    • Performance of the content (did we get an ROI?).

    Social listening doesn’t cut it, that’s why a year ago we built our own data warehouse and analysis system. We called it Sila, the Arabic word for ‘link’ or ‘connection’, to provide audience-first intelligence to our clients.

    Objectives: Actions v. Awareness

    The chart below looks at the impact between a ‘micro’, ‘macro’ and mega influencer. As you can see, if we wanted our audience to act – click a link, comment, participate – we would need to be in the 100k-1mn followers with a sweet-spot of about 500k, and shun celebrities. This data is based on an analysis of over 30mn followers of the top accounts – for food recipes only as an example.

    Sila's analysis of the sweet spot for Influencer Marketing

    As you can imagine, though, reach is a different story. Here we need celebrities to give an exponential reach and view count to help us deliver an authentic message. Note how the scale, which would be mathematically expected to increase with followers, isn’t exponential until 1mn followers.

    Sila insights show for influencers that scale isn't necessarily in proportion to reach

    These are just two variables of potentially many objectives, but shows the importance of considering the type of campaign you want.

    Audience planning

    This is the most important part, after deciding on objectives, then is understanding who is the best fit for what message. After determining the correct scale of influencer engagement, we then need to make sure our audience is right for our message.

    To do this we then look at the influencers key metrics – demographics, affinities and location, to determine the right fit of the creator. This is done through advanced, Arabic-dialect based, natural language processing and data models.

    Sila's instagram analytics for influencers in the GCC

    With Sila, we then transition that into understanding the affinities of audiences. How unique is the audience? The image below shows how much of a total audience follows the same accounts, meaning we have some duplication – great for an awareness campaign, maybe not for a campaign requiring engagement.

    We do the same against brands to determine – what category of consumer are we talking to? Do competitors bond with this audience? The charts below look at audience affinities with certain creators and their audiences – helping us understand uniqueness of an audience as well as competitor intel of what companies bond with the audience.

    Sila's influencer analytics can understand the affinities of influencer's audiences

    If all the boxes are ticked, we have a creator.

    The bit in the middle no-one tells you is hard

    Campaign management is difficult.

    This can’t be automated, and anyone who tells you it is lying. We use our decade of experience to develop rapport with influencers to engage them, brief and pay them on time. We offer all this as a turnkey solution. If you do try to manage these campaigns, or have a media agency manage a campaign, remember to be human or you won’t get results.


    This takes us back to the start – what objective did we set? How did we meet it. We have a number of ways of managing campaign outputs. For example, tracking the reach and unique viewers, or the depth of the conversation, the link clicks driven or conversion.

    Before the campaign starts we recommend mapping this out so everyone can work towards benchmarked KPIs before the campaign starts. We have access to many platforms and create every dashboard for every client.

    Sila reporting example for Instagram Stories

    Another dimension to influencer campaign ROI is that Sila also saves all comments to analyse for sentiment, keywords and key items of interest. This can lead to insights about products, reactions to content and more importantly, negative feedback. The below chart shows our Arabic-dialect model for a campaign set of posts, allowing us important insights into the creators in question.

    Sila Arabic dialect sentiment model example for a campaign and a set of creators

    Not an art, a deeply science led process.

    People refer to the influencer campaign as an ‘art’ and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The same amount of planning that goes into a media campaign should be going into an influencer campaign. With Sila, and our soft-skills experience of dealing with influencers, it adds a layer of data and accountability, that takes away the “what ifs” and instead delivers “this worked well”.

    How Sila works.

    Using models based upon Arabic dialects, we see their audience’s reactions, their other influencer affinities, and brand affinities. Those models allow us to build on previous capabilities to see the audiences’ age, gender, location, and engagements.

    We then utilise this real-time reporting, combined with natural-language-processing models, to gain true sentiment. We can then better refine and learn from the audiences’ reactions in an unbiased setting. The key!

    All coming together to produce:

    • Audience-first campaigns in the G.C.C via a proven process,
    • Topic reports and data backed selection with a G.C.C focus for approval;
    • An experienced team to clearly brief and manage the influencers of the Arab World;
    • Content approvals, published reports, to indicate ROI and deep dive into the campaign, followed by post-campaign collaborative review.

    Additionally, we have obvious brand-lift measurements, but we can save that for another day. 

    Questions? Get in touch with us today.

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