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Ultimate guide to Instagram influencer marketing in Saudi Arabia

Ultimate guide to Instagram influencer marketing in Saudi Arabia

Instagram influencer marketing in Saudi Arabia has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years due to a series of social and cultural events that opened the kingdom to the rest of the world. Following the country’s ambitious ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ plan to diversify the economy, several brands and global corporations have set up their regional headquarters in the country. Also, from September 2019, people can apply for tourist visas to enter the country for leisure purposes and to experience the culture – something which was once forbidden unless you had a job in the country.

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This ultimately resulted in a huge growth spurt in hotels, entertainment venues, and Saudi social media influencers looking to change the world’s view of the kingdom. Saudi social media influencers realized the role and responsibility they have, however they also seized the opportunity to work with global brands looking to enter the market through culturally relevant messaging and relatable content.

Table of content

Introduction

What is influencer marketing?

What are the types of social media influencers?

Why is Instagram influencer marketing effective?

Client spotlight: How L’Occitane en Provence launched a product with the help of micro-influencers

How brands can work with Saudi influencers

How can I become a social media influencer?

Who are the top Saudi Instagram influencers?

Introduction

The evolution of net sentiment surrounding the keyword 'Saudi Arabia' during the past 30 days

The evolution of net sentiment surrounding the keyword 'Saudi Arabia' during the past 30 days.

Influencer-brand partnerships have grown in volume and sophistication, especially in a high-value market like Saudi Arabia. In fact, it was estimated that the ‘domestic online market is expected to reach USD 2 billion by 2025’, largely due to the convergence of social media as the main shopping channel, adoption of digital payments, and the ease and convenience of the whole experience.

Furthermore, social media users in Saudi Arabia grew by 1.5 million (5.4% increase YoY) between 2021 and 2022. The total number of social media users in the kingdom now stands at around 29.3 million users, making it the perfect platform for brands to establish their relationships through social media marketing campaigns.

As the world emerges from the impacts of the pandemic, influencer marketing has proven to be a highly effective tactic for brands to connect with and convert social media users into paying customers. A recent study conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub surveyed around 2,000 marketing professionals, who said that 68% plan on increasing their influencer marketing spend. The same study shows that the industry is set to ‘grow to approximately USD 16.4 billion in 2022’.

The opportunity for brands in Saudi Arabia is huge. However, for brands to tactically identify and engage with relevant influencers, they need to evaluate which influencers will help them reach their target audience without posing a reputational risk. For that, Talkwalker’s consumer intelligence platform provides real-time insights into audience sentiment, reach, engagement, and more.

Know which influencers you should work with

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is essentially when a person is an authority in their field and is capable of convincing large audiences through a series of social proofing tactics. In other words, an individual, regardless of the number of followers they have, will advocate on behalf of a brand that in return is compensating them for the service.

The marketing element of the equation could take many forms, they’re either selling you a product, changing your opinion about a brand, encouraging you to do something you wouldn’t normally do, or simply making you think of a particular brand during your working day.

Influencer marketing is nothing new and does not necessarily have to be through social media. Consumers have long relied on referrals to make purchasing decisions. An influencer could be anyone within a consumer’s sphere of influence like their mother, colleague, gym buddy, or fiance. The idea is that a consumer buys a product solely because they heard about it from someone else who has given a recommendation based on their experience and anecdotal evidence.

At this point, anyone can be an influencer, and anyone can be influenced – you just need to give the right incentives.

Reveal who the influencers around your brand are

The top Saudi influencers using #جمعةـمباركة during the past 30 days

The key Saudi influencers using the hashtag #جمعةـمباركة during the past 30 days.

What are the types of social media influencers?

Not all influencers are created equal, and that’s a good thing for the industry. It gives social media influencers of all sizes the opportunity to grow while also giving brands the freedom to choose to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds. Saudi Arabia has a diverse creator community across all major social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. This growth in the number of influencers could be attributed to people working from home, however, it could also be attributed to the increased acceptance of non-traditional career paths among Gen Zs and Millennials.

Becoming an entrepreneur suddenly gained popularity because of the appeal of the lifestyle and being your own boss. Plus, the barrier to entry was almost removed altogether, with it possible for anyone to go viral overnight and sign deals with brands.

It is estimated that 50 million people globally consider themselves creators. There are many ways to categorize influencers, though at the end of the day it all boils down to what your objective is.

Influencer categories by the number of followers:

  • Nano influencers
  • Micro-influencers
  • Mid-tier
  • Macro influencers
  • Mega influencers or celebrities

Influencer categories by niche or theme of content:

  • Lifestyle and entertainment: These are the bloggers or vloggers who share snippets from their lives in a relatable manner
  • Memes and trends: Influencers who rely on the popularity of dances, memes, and songs to create content. This category of influencers saw a big surge during lockdown as people looked for light relief.
  • Gamers: Saudi gaming marketing hit USD 1 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 6.8 billion by 2030. Influencers are a major driver of the gaming industry.
  • Fashion and beauty influencers: Influencers who focus on showcasing the latest fashion and beauty trends, as well as sharing their experiences in that field.
  • Sports influencers: Athletes, gym-goers, wellness enthusiasts, and even diet experts
  • Others

By persona and mission:

  • Brand ambassadors: These are the people who live and breathe the brand. In our latest Brand Love 2022 report we identified the 3 key metrics that foster brand love with consumers and those are: Customer Satisfaction, Passion, and Trust.
  • Employees at a company: You’ve seen them on LinkedIn. This type of influencer often uses their company’s social media clout to build their professional brand.
  • Activists: Influencers with a mission, whether climate change, saving animals, or helping displaced communities while documenting it.
  • Subject matter experts: These influencers post educational content to inform people of cool things in science, biology, or history.
  • Photographers and talented individuals: These influencers usually use Instagram as their professional portfolio where they get exposure and generate business leads.

Don’t work with the wrong type of influencer

Why is Instagram influencer marketing effective?

In simple terms, Instagram influencer marketing is an effective strategy because it adopts a bottom-up approach to messaging. People trust other people with no agendas – when an influencer declares that a post is #sponsored, their honesty is appreciated by their followers and is often received positively, unless the sponsoring brand contradicts everything the influencer once stood for.

Another contributing factor to the efficacy of Instagram influencer marketing is because of the increased usage of ad-blockers by users. As consumers become tech-savvy, they are becoming more aware of their digital privacy rights and the steps they need to take to navigate that space. This could be exemplified by using secure web browsers, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), or ad-blockers. All this means that a brand’s ad-spend could be going to waste by reaching irrelevant viewers.

The easiest way to overcome these barriers is to collaborate with influencers who will not only put a face on the brand, but also create a direct connection with consumers.

Influencers are capable of achieving these goals for brands:

  • Brand awareness: Influencers can introduce products to consumers, creating a memorable experience and ultimately making the brand recognizable to new consumers. This is one of the ways a brand could enter a new market.
  • Establish authenticity: By working with influencers, a brand automatically builds on the influencer’s authenticity and paves the way to a trusting relationship.
  • Scale and reach: Instead of attempting to reach every individual consumer, which is both money and time consuming, brands can work with 100 influencers who help them reach millions of their target audience.

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Client spotlight: How L’Occitane en Provence launched a product with the help of micro-influencers

In influencer marketing, the number of followers isn’t everything. L’Occitane en Provence, the global beauty and wellness brand, strategically decided to work with micro-influencers to launch a new product to the market. Why? Partnering with micro-influencers is more cost-effective, easier to manage, and in fact more fun because they are also attempting to grow their followership, so the idea of working with a global brand represents a big break for them.

Talkwalker and Hivency published a case study that lays out the details of the campaign from planning to execution and showcases the results.

With the help of Talkwalker advanced listening and analytics, and Hivency’s influencer optimization, the case study reveals:

  • Why micro and nano influencers matter
  • How to develop a campaign framework for micro-influencers
  • How L'Occitane en Provence achieved above-average results
  • Your influencer marketing campaign checklist

Read the case study now

How brands can work with Saudi influencers

The early days of the influencer marketing industry were riddled with opaque business practices and uncertainty. This was to be expected – both, brands and influencers, are exploring new territory. Some might say that brands have taken advantage of not-so-business-savvy influencers, and the other way around where influencers simply take the money without fulfilling their commitments.

Nowadays, as the industry matures, we are seeing more regulations and structures that enable individual influencers, agencies, and brands to work together. This industry need was further accelerated as influencers grew in popularity and had more agency. Influencers now realize they have a direct line to Gen Z consumers, or as some might call them, the force behind ‘what’s hot and what’s not’.

For brands entering the Saudi market, influencer marketing is an essential part of their strategy. Saudi influencers understand the nuances of the market as well as the intricate cultural elements and can anticipate how the audience reacts to certain things. It is good to remember that Saudi Arabia is undergoing an unprecedented wave of openness and cultural awakening.

This transition needs to be softened and carefully navigated by brands. For example, when electronics giant Philips wanted to introduce its hair-straightening brush to the Saudi market, it collaborated with three major Saudi influencers, reaching 3.4M users and resulting in a surge of positive sentiment towards the brand.

Saudi influencer Maya Ahmad sharing her experience with the Philips heated brush.

This goes to show that before brands collaborate with influencers, they need to identify the right type of influencer and agree with them on the structure of the collaboration. The number of posts, which channels to use, hashtags to include, the timing of the posts, and the captions are all elements that are pre-approved.

Finding the right influencer for your brand means that you need to quantify and measure the influencer’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to their audience.Try to understand their reach and impact in that particular field. Performing audience analysis allows you to answer the following questions:

  • Who do they create content for?
  • Who comments on their posts?
  • Who are their most engaged followers?

Analyze influencers’ reach and influence

Also, there are many ways that brands can collaborate with influencers. The most common ways that brands and influencers partner is through:

  • Free products arrangement: The influencer gets a supply of free products as long as they mention it ‘casually’ during live streams, reels, or posts.
  • Product placement: In this scenario, the influencer would conveniently use a certain product or position it in the background where viewers can see the logo.
  • Endorsements: The influencer becomes an advocate for the brand and becomes an ambassador.
  • Referral links in bios: Influencers get a commission for every sale made through the link.
  • Branded content: This is when the influencer agrees to appear in a branded video or post that’s usually published on the brand’s official channels.

Working with the right type of influencer must align with the brand’s business objectives to ensure a positive return on investment and that the influencer meets the brand’s values.

Launch your influencer marketing campaign with data

How can I become a social media influencer?

If you are reading this, you might be inspired to be an influencer. The lucrative lifestyle and free products do come at a cost. Becoming an influencer is hard work and requires long-term commitment and creativity.

Luckily, there are some tips and tricks that will help you start on the right foot:

  • Be consistent: One thing that helps you stand out from the crowd is posting regularly. The Instagram algorithm rewards users who post regularly and garner organic engagement. It gives the signal that you are providing value to the viewers.
  • Be original: It’s okay to jump on the hype train and simply do a trend because it’s getting views, however it’s always best to give it your twist. Sometimes you just get lucky by having a video go viral, though it’s critical to understand what made it so popular in the first place. Take TikTok/Instagram sensation Khaby Lame, for example, who became famous by simply pointing at objects without saying a single word.
  • Know who you’re talking to: Know your audience and start from there. You need to post content that matches your viewers’ expectations and entertainment needs.

Learn more about audience analysis

Who are the top Saudi Instagram influencers?

Marketing professionals know that finding the right type of influencers requires search and outreach. You can’t simply search Instagram and filter by the number of followers or hashtags used. What you can do, though, is use a keyword or a hashtag to identify the influencers surrounding it. This tactic is useful when you have a specific niche or product.

For this, we’ve collected a list of Saudi influencers that you can download and sift through as you wish. Once you download this file, you can filter the list of influencers by the type of content they share, the number of followers they have, and even the country.

Download the list of Saudi Instagram influencers now

As a bonus, we’ve also collected a list of the Top Saudi and UAE TikTok Influencers.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing in Saudi Arabia is booming on all fronts. Brands must be quick off the mark to seize the opportunity and establish long-lasting relationships with consumers alongside influencers. The key thing to guide brand and marketing professionals is to understand that influencers are communicating with people with differing needs and expectations.

Data and consumer insights will be the first step to be taken into account before designing an impactful influencer marketing campaign, why not start from today?

Talkwalker consumer intelligence platform