Beyond the hype of influencer marketing

MCN’s Rami Gholmieh explains the need to cultivate authentic connections in the MENA influencer landscape

In the ever-evolving landscape of influencer marketing, several critiques have emerged, creating doubt on its efficacy and integrity. How influential? To what level of expert influence? And are those ‘influencers’ even real?

In light of influencer marketing rapidly becoming an integral part of the marketing mix – 77 per cent of marketers are treating the sector as a top priority – these challenges must be acknowledged and addressed with an alternative solution that underscores the complexity and potential of influencer marketing, while integrating the critical role of content creators in fostering genuine connections between brands and their audiences.


The MENA region hosts a very distinctive cultural landscape; understanding nuances is key to successful influencer marketing.

Delving into the cultural specificities of the region, especially the UAE and KSA, is critical for crafting influencer selection and strategies.

Understanding subtleties and leveraging the cultural knowledge of content creator based in the MENA region puts brands in a powerful position to deliver campaigns that resonate on a deeper level.


Identifying a relevant content niche is crucial in content creator collaborations. But it’s equally important to prioritise individuals who transcend mere participation; those who are passionate advocates within their niche and genuine experts who are building authentic relationships with their audience that drive meaningful engagement.

These experts could be micro influencers, boasting smaller but highly engaged communities. Their active and committed followers result in more authentic recommendations, reflecting a shift towards prioritising genuine audience interaction over raw follower counts.

This trend underscores the growing significance of depth and quality in engaging audiences.


Blending organic content with paid advertisements in dynamic digital marketing isn’t just a savvy strategy; it’s revolutionary. Take for example Kanye West’s Super Bowl campaign, where the fusion of authentic, organic content shines through.

The result? A refreshingly bold ad, shot on a phone, that exudes the raw power of organic content display.

Similarly the recent Subway UAE National Day campaign, which capitalised on connected capabilities, both organically and through a paid content strategy. The campaign’s impact was multiplied by strategically placing paid promotions on TikTok.

The successful integration of authenticity and widespread reach illustrates the power of a balanced approach that leverages the strengths of both organic and paid media.


The landscape of content creation has evolved rapidly from the era of individual creators and their organic growth. Today, we witness creators transforming their profiles into fully-fledged brands, supported by specialised teams that assist in various aspects of content creation and strategic partnerships.

This shift underscores the increasing significance of influencer marketing within the broader marketing landscape, highlighting its evolution and the professional approach it now demands.

Much like the film and music industries, which reinvent themselves through remakes and draws inspiration from past eras, social content must also remain agile to adapt to evolving audience tastes.

The methods of engagement are continually evolving, as seen in the recent transition from long-form content to shorter formats like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and Stories. Content creators play a pivotal role in driving this change, possessing a deep understanding of their audience’s shifting preferences.

With attention spans dwindling, creators have honed their skills to deliver content that truly engages and resonates with their followers, ensuring that brand messages remain relevant, fresh and engaging.

In the MENA influencer landscape, prioritising cultural understanding is business-critical, necessitating brands to establish authentic relationships with influencers and execute strategies that blend both organic and paid approaches.

Authentic stories go beyond mere facts; they have the power to forge genuine connections with audiences, compelling them to fully engage and remain loyal to a brand for the long term.

By Rami Gholmieh, Regional Director of Influencer Marketing at MCN