Interview with Hassan Soukar on Influencer Importance, Part I
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Hassan Soukar, one of the well-known automotive and tech influencers in the GCC region, who co-authored some ground-breaking reviews on many products; thus, helped heaps of brands jump-start sales and increase their brand awareness and reach.
What’s your definition of an ‘influencer’?
It’s clear that an influencer comes in many shapes and forms, but the most important two factors that define influence are an engaged audience and a level of advocacy which is driven by conviction. I think a lot of people tend to use the words influence and followers interchangeably, but you don’t need an unusually large audience to have influence, you need conviction and trust. I know that when I recommend a cell phone, a watch, a perfume, or a car to one of my friends or family members, they will consider buying it because they trust my recommendations.
What do you usually do when you get paid to share an opinion about a car or anything else?
If I get paid to share my opinion about a specific car model or any other product on Instagram to 200k followers, I may have an audience to spread awareness to, but the #ad created is not a form of earned media, and as such is not as powerful as my organic recommendation.
What’s the difference between an earned influencer and a paid one?
It’s important to distinguish between an earned influencer and a paid influencer– earned being a brand advocate/brand fan and a paid influencer being someone who has been paid to promote.
You said once that ‘brands are starting to get it right’, what do you mean by that?
When I say that brands are starting to get it right, what I mean is that in the past, companies took it for granted that a blogger would be thrilled to promote them in exchange for a few free products. I was a part of that early wave, and let me tell you — it sucked. We, bloggers, spend a great deal of time getting to know the product, taking photos of it, writing about it. Thankfully, brands are beginning to see that influence marketing is something of great importance; especially, in this digital era. It’s one that still requires a budget, like any other strategy.
Is paying an influencer worth the investment?
Yes, for sure! Paying an influencer is worth the investment. Once you define what it is you require, he will work hard for you and deliver results on time. Having a long-term relationship will also get better results.
What are the best ways through which brands can work with an influencer?
There are many ways you can work with an influencer:
- He can become a brand spokesperson at events.
- He can contribute expert content on your blog.
- He can lead industry Twitter chats on your behalf.
- He can host your ad on his website.
Because he knows the audience you’re trying to reach, he will likely have ideas about the most innovative ways to engage that audience.
One last word?
I’m thrilled that influencer marketing is finally coming into the mainstream. I look forward to seeing how brands learn to interact with influencers and eventually compensate them for the value they provide.