Influential Marketing (IM) is here to stay Influential Marketing (IM) is here to stay

Is death of conventional marketing on the horizon?

Wed, Mar. 7, 2018
CAIRO – 7 March 2018: With the rise of ad blockers, decline in radio and TV viewership, and spikes in billboard prices, influencer marketing (IM) has become the most effective form of advertising.

Having already grown significantly during 2016 and 2017, IM is expected to keep growing during 2018, especially given the constant release of new features in social media platforms.

Even though some experts do not see television dying out in the short run, social media gurus, market researchers, marketing executives and advertising experts interviewed for this piece all agree on one thing: IM is here to stay, and it has taken a significant chunk of the advertising pie.

“Influencer marketing is growing at a very fast rate and there is more money being invested in the sector than ever before. This is because influencer marketing is significantly cheaper than celebrity marketing or renting out a billboard. It is more cost-effective and you [the selling company] get more in return for your money. It can target the intended audience better and quicker and is also more realistic,” explains Aly Osman, co-founder of the marketing firm the influencers. Now, the key question is: will digital marketing replace conventional marketing?



Will digital marketing replace conventional marketing?

Despite digital marketing, especially the use of influencers, being a good tool to reach end-users, it seems that it is more fit for younger age categories. AM-Group Misr’s General Manager Osama Diab sees the recent hike in social media penetration as one of the factors behind the increase in social media marketing budgets.

Still, Diab is wary of the number of people these campaigns reach, suggesting that TV, radio and outdoor marketing are still the most important marketing vehicles for customer awareness due to their capacity for mass coverage. Diab further suggests that Cairo’s busy, active life makes outdoor advertising perfect for mass brand awareness campaigns.



Another important point is the audience that social media ads are tailored for. According to advertising and marketing executive Wadie Zakhary, B2B clients do not benefit from social media as much as B2C, explaining that most people do not use social media for business.

Senior Account Manager at POD Marketing Mostafa Mohie agrees, explaining that end-users have to be on social media, but B2Bs are often merely there to solidify their company’s existence in the market with a page. Accordingly, Zakhary and Mohie both indicate that B2Bs require different marketing strategies than digital ones. Marketing Manager at the Dubai-based Trafalgar Properties LLC Marine Mijatovic agrees, suggesting that for B2B companies, it would be better to focus on other strategies.

“Worldwide social media is taking over because the industry is huge and is still growing. They’re already replacing traditional media and the world is heading into that direction, but I’m not sure if social media will completely replace traditional. If it will, then I don’t think it will be anytime soon,” Mohie concludes.

FP7/CAI Cairo’s Group Account Director Sondos Effat points out that it is still too early to determine whether social media platforms will ever replace conventional marketing, a point that Zakhary agrees with. Effat explains that although social media is very good for engaging people, a key point in brand awareness, it is more difficult to produce content that users will like, especially since whether the content is strong or not is one of the key factors behind its circulation on social media platforms.

“Brands still need TV to push mega sales, but digital marketing has big potential. You can no longer run a campaign on TV only, but it is still too early to rely solely on digital. Companies need a mix. There are only very specific cases, where a product or service is targeting specific age groups, that social media marketing can be the only means of marketing,” Effat adds.



Though Shafie says all businesses should have a social media presence, he believes they cannot rely solely on social media marketing and that the marketing tools should instead be used in the right context. He does add, however, than in the future social media will replace other marketing tools as “the living generation then will all be mainly internet users and internet will be used in every single aspect in our lives.”

Rana Ghanem, Careem Egypt’s public relations manager, explains that they still need to utilize several other platforms, not just social media, as their audience is not just young people and those on social media. Ghanem explains that they often go to universities and malls to raise public awareness about their taxi services, including the level of service they should be receiving and when peak times are, as well as how to download, register for, and use the Careem application.

Mahira Tarek, Marketing Communications Manager at Careem Egypt, explains, “Each campaign has a different scenario depending on its circumstance. Social media is increasingly becoming the backbone of all marketing communication campaigns, as it is the mostly widely used medium by millennials. However, other campaigns can have a 360-degree nature, which means including other media as TV, print and billboards, but again it all depends on the campaign goals and objectives.”

Tarek describes social media as “the hub for brands’ marketing campaigns because its return on investment is more measurable and it has a higher ability to reach the most important segment for brands.”



Still room for growth

Budgets allocated for influencer marketing are expected to continue to increase in 2018.

Going back to 2015, a study conducted by Tomoson, a software dedicated to influencer and micro-influencer outreach, concluded that 59% of marketers expressed their intention to increase their influencer marketing budget for the next 12 months, 11% indicated that they will be keeping them at the same level and 10% said they would reduce them. Similarly, in 2016, a study conducted by Linqia Marketing Influencer found that 48% of marketers intend to increase their budget for the next 12 months, while 23% will maintain the same budget and 4% will decrease it.

Mohie and Effat both agree that there is big room for development in the field. Mohie explains that being an influencer is not just being someone who can make a hashtag trend quickly or spread a product quickly, it is also someone who is able to produce unique content with original ideas.

Similarly, Effat enforces the idea that content is vital, but also suggested that social media influencers in Egypt need to be more organized and engage more with companies.



Effat explains that most consumers have their day split up into segments and throughout the day, they are only able to look at photos or short posts, and photos at night or specific times, meaning that influencers should know the patterns for their followers better and post content accordingly.

Another international development in the field of social media marketing that is yet to occur in Egypt is the creation of agencies that create influencers specifically for certain brands with the aim of raising awareness about a certain brand, and, of course, increasing sales.

Even tech-savy Dubai-based, Mijatovic suggests that it would be unwise to rely solely on social media. “Do not put all your eggs in one basket. Social media platforms are not in our control,” she says, stressing that a diverse strategy is key. Mijatovic advises companies to “use social media to generate leads, to promote your business, but maintain the relationship with your clients. One of the problems many businesses have with traditional means of sales and marketing is retaining a good, long-term relationship with their existing customers.”



For 2018, Rachel Levin, a social media star with 20 million followers on social media platforms, indicated that influencers are becoming a basic staple in every company’s basic marketing strategy. Similarly, Charlie Xavier (aka WOLFIE), a YouTube comedian with over 8 million followers, said that big brands who were risk-averse are shifting parts of their budgets from traditional marketing strategies to influencer marketing strategies. Supporting this view further, research conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub suggests that 67% of marketers will increase their budgets for the next 12 months.

 
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