The in­side view of Forbes’ new list of the top on­line in­flu­encers

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Jessica Hill

Ever won­dered which so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers rule the on­line world? United States busi­ness mag­a­zine Forbes can help – it has started to com­pile top-10 lists of the big­gest in­ter­na­tional on­line stars in var­i­ous sec­tors.

The newly launched Top In­flu­encers list re­flects the dra­matic changes in the global me­dia land­scape. Ev­ery three months, Forbes, bet­ter known for in-depth ar­ti­cles on fi­nance and in­dus­try, will rank 10 so­cial-me­dia su­per­stars in three cat­e­gories, start­ing this month with Beauty, Fit­ness and Home.

Top­ping their Beauty chart is Zoe Sugg (also known as Zoella), a 27-year-old Bri­ton al­ready im­mor­talised as a wax­work in Madame Tus­sauds. Her 2014 novel, Girl On­line, be­came the fastest-sell­ing by a de­but author to date. Dubai cos­met­ics queen Huda Kat­tan made third spot on the list. The Iraqi- Amer­i­can has racked up 18 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers since she launched her ac­count in 2012, her cred­i­bil­ity fu­elled by the fact that she rarely ac­cepts paid pro­mo­tional posts.

On the Fit­ness list, 25 year-old Australian Kayla Itsines – who has 6.6 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers – took top spot. Her Sweat with Kayla app gen­er­ated US$17mil­lion (Dh62.4m) in rev­enue last year.

Bri­ton Joe “the Body” Wicks, who head­lined Dubai’s Sun & Sand Sports Fit­ness Fes­ti­val in Novem­ber, was one of only six men to make the lists.

To com­pile the charts, Forbes worked with an­a­lyt­ics firm Traackr and so­cial-in­sight plat­form Cap­tiv8 to gauge each Cri­te­ria in­cludes earn­ings po­ten­tial to on­line fol­low­ing, en­dorse­ments and busi­ness off­line can­di­date’s po­tent ia l for earn­ings ac­cord­ing to the size of their fol­low­ing, en­dorse­ments, and busi­ness gen­er­ated off­line.

Es­tab­lished celebri­ties were not con­sid­ered in the rank­ings – if they had been, Tay­lor Swift, with 101 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, would prob­a­bly have come up trumps.

But can such a list drawn up by a more tra­di­tional me­dia out­let re­ally hold much ca­chet with today’s so­cial-me­dia elite?

Naomi D’Souza, an In­dian life­style influencer in Dubai, who has a 67,000-strong In­sta­gram fol­low­ing, says she thinks the Forbes charts will boost an influencer’s pop­u­lar­ity and fol­lower num­bers.

“As a mi­cro-influencer my­self, I must ad­mit, this makes us feel es­sen­tial, seen, and gives us the con­fi­dence to work harder,” she says.

“It’s not easy to climb the lad­der con­sid­er­ing this gen­er­a­tion is su­per-com­pet­i­tive now, es­pe­cially on so­cial me­dia. In­flu­encers must be com­mended.”

Were she to fea­ture in one of Forbes’ charts, D’Souza says it would un­doubt­edly help her brand.

“Forbes be­ing a le­git­i­mate brand, and well known for its lists and rank­ing, it by de­fault gives a sense of au­then­tic­ity to the reader. That is what I strive for,” she says.

Mau­rice Hamil­ton, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SMC Group, which claims to be the world’s largest celebrity and inf lu­encer pro­cure­ment agency, says that when pick­ing in­flu­encers to en­dorse par­tic­u­lar brands, “im­pres­sions, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and the num­ber of fol­low­ers play a vi­tal role – but the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion is based on their rel­e­vance to the cam­paign”.

Hamil­ton rates the most suc­cess­ful in­flu­encers as be­ing “any­one who has been able to move their busi­ness out­side of their orig­i­nal dig­i­tal plat­form”.

Next quar­ter, Forbes will an­nounce its lists of Com­edy, Travel and Gam­ing in­flu­encers. Might we see Dubai travel blog­ger Michelle Karam (@trav­eljunkiedi­ary) or dare­devil ad­ven­turer Omar Samra (@ omarsamra) in the run­ning when it comes to travel? Watch this space.


Cour­tesy Huda Kat­tan

Iraqi-Amer­i­can Huda Kat­tan, a beauty blog­ger from Dubai, is third on the Forbes list of Beauty on­line in­flu­encers.

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