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Five impressions on influencing in a new world

Five PR professionals at Weber Shandwick – including some part-time influencers – give their advice on working with content creators in the current situation

Written by Weber Shandwick UAE:

Zeeshan Masud: Senior manager, client experience, and explorer behind ZeeTravelDiaries

Nada El Barshoumi: Senior manager, client experience, and lifestyle blogger at OneArabVegan

Carine Arif: Senior manager, client experience

Sahar Makki: Manager, client experience, and intrepid urbanite of FearlessTwenties

Sarah Skaf: Associate, integrated media

Is there a sweet spot for influencers in our new normal? At the best of times, working with influencers can be hit-or-miss, so in a time of crisis or uncertainty, one could reason that the risk – and rewards – are magnified. True: influencer marketing can amplify brand messaging to extraordinary levels almost impossible to achieve otherwise with the same investment. Also true: influencer marketing can end up being a very expensive screenshot. So, what are the ingredients to collaborate on creating captivating content that gets you both ROI and a tick next to the KPI?
Five of Weber Shandwick’s PR professionals in the UAE – some of whom are influencers in their own right –give us their take on how to approach influencer marketing and communications to ensure the most memorable content, genuine engagement and the best chance of success. This article was created with the valuable insights of Zeeshan Masud, Nada ElBarshoumi, Carine Arif, Sahar Makki and Sarah Skaf.

1. Be authentic; it matters more than ever before
Lockdowns have led to a rise in digital content consumption, and communications are largely taking place through online mediums. In this digital sphere, storytelling is still as important as ever and authenticity has never mattered as much as it does today. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool during times of change and brands have a special opportunity to remain engaged with their audiences through authentic and empathetic content tailored to the current climate.

2. Recognise that creativity reigns over the feeling of captivity
The rise in online content across the board, coupled with limited places from which to produce content, means influencers and brands alike must evolve in order to creatively engage their audiences with dynamic, relevant content. Whether they are storytellers, photographers, videographers or artists, the best influencers are creative masters of their own craft. These individuals are able to truly embrace client briefs and produce genuine content that their audiences passionately identify with. Brands are moving away from a pay-for-post regime and investing in more qualitative and creative solutions to reach their audiences. While this requires a bigger time investment and an open dialogue, this approach yields more engaging solutions – ultimately driving better ROI for clients.

3. Prioritise projects that are true to your brand ethos
Countless brands and influencers have come under fire for trying to profit from the current global healthcare crisis. It’s imperative that any project remains true to the brand ethos of both company and content creator. Influencers might support multiple brands, so it’s important to work with someone who represents the brand’s values, is loyal to the brand and wants a supportive, collaborative, long-term relationship to generate the best possible outcome for both parties.

4. Choose the right platform to enhance resonance
Comms specialists have many options, but choosing the right influencers – and platforms – for brands can make all the difference. Instagram offers stories, IGTV, posts and live streaming. SnapChat is great for a raw, candid, unfiltered approach. Entertaining short-form video platform TikTok is thriving due to its easy and light-hearted nature, which influencers are now using to spread positivity and feel-good content during tough times.

5. Navigate crises by offering real value and genuine consideration
Be mindful of audiences who are adapting to maintaining their mental and physical wellbeing at home. The influencers that have gained popularity during this time of crisis are those who have quickly adapted to the new normal, using platforms to promote strategies to cope with lockdown and self-isolation. Many social media influencers are posting content encouraging their followers to practice social distancing, some are creating videos with home workouts, others are raising the bar on home cooking. Think about the value that your audience needs right now, and team up to share that with goodwill and kindness.