Determining real influence: An interview with Brand Ripplr's Founder, Tanaz Dizadji

Brand Ripplr, an online marketplace that simplifies the entire influencer marketing process for businesses based in the UAE, last week announced a $1M Series A funding round, from the Dubai Angel Investors and other individual investors.

MAGNiTT caught up with Brand Ripplr's CEO and Founder - Tanaz Dizadji following the Series A round, to talk all things influencer marketing, including how the industry in MENA differs from the West, the importance of data to the platform, why they are expanding to KSA, their future plans, and more.

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How does Brand Ripplr work?

We connect brands with our database of over 55,000 regional talents and ensure that quality content is produced by them, which can then ripple across social platforms in the region. We manage the whole campaign process on behalf of our clients, from selecting influencers to reviewing their posts to tracking the campaign performance. Our client platform supports and automates the campaign process and makes it simple and effective for clients to track the progress of their campaigns.

How important is data to Brand Ripplr and why?

As has been widely publicised, finding genuine ‘influencers’ is a real issue in the industry; you have to distinguish between big numbers and real influence. We are all aware of fake accounts, fake followers, and fake engagement – this exists in today’s social sphere. However, platforms like Brand Ripplr are implementing tech solutions that allow for a vigorous vetting process. This means being able to distinguish the real from the fake and deliver insights on influencer audiences, alongside data-centric campaign results.

There are thousands claiming the ‘influencer status’, but brands need to understand the data behind the social media masks in order to determine whether or not these ‘influencers’ have real influence – audience size, engagement, audience demographics all need to be analysed. As such, platforms like Brand Ripplr, have evolved to facilitate the process from start to finish.

Influencer marketing is a huge industry that has grown globally over the past few years. In your opinion, how does the industry in MENA differ from the West? And why is this an industry that the region should be focused on?

In our view, influencer marketing is the most effective way to reach relevant audiences and deliver results, which is why it will continue to evolve into a multi-billion dollar global industry over the next five years.

There is a social shift happening right now in the west, and it is the micro-influencers who are driving the change. Brands are waking up to the over-commercialisation of macro/mega influencers and tapping into the behavioural trends of their consumers; these consumers are statistically proven to be much more likely to follow the recommendation made by a micro. On top of that, the engagement % of a micro is significantly higher than a macro; they have highly-engaged and trusted audiences. In essence, a group of micro-influencers can achieve the same (or better) results as a macro-influencer for a lot less money.

Aside from capital, what else were you looking for from your investors?

We chose to partner with the Dubai Angels Investors as it enabled us to tap into a pool of 100+ like-minded businessmen and women. They are passionate about supporting entrepreneurs and providing strategic support for our growth and scaling of our operations across new markets.

 Can you share some of Brand Ripplr’s short-term plans for expansion with us? 

The funds will be used to expand Brand Ripplr’s footprint across the MENA region including in Saudi Arabia and other markets. 

We are also launching our influencer marketing platform for SMEs - The subscription-based platform enables businesses to create experiences for influencers who will promote their business for free. Influencers are often open to working with brands on a barter basis for example with industries where a service is being delivered such as F&B outlets or entertainment. This creates a great opportunity for the influencer to experience the brand fully and produce authentic and natural content.

Why is Saudi Arabia a market you are looking to expand to?

80% of our campaigns are already targeted at audiences in Saudi Arabia and Saudi hosts some of the region’s top content creators who know how to create meaningful and impactful content.

What do you foresee as the largest challenges to scaling Brand Ripplr in MENA and beyond?

In terms of scaling in MENA, our largest challenge is finding credible and suitable partners to work with in certain countries - some markets are of course easier than others as they are already using influencer marketing.

Other than scaling, the social media landscape is ever-evolving, so reacting and adapting to change is certainly key for us. Since Brand Ripplr tracks performance and data, it has had to react to major trends in this ever-evolving social sphere that are typically rolled out by global giants such as Facebook and Instagram.

What advice would you give to yourself five years ago? :)

There are 3 pieces of advice:

1. Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good - we all strive to do our best but if you are aiming for perfection you can lose sight of the bigger picture and potentially stunt progress.

2. Ensure that you surround yourself with people that push and challenge you - these people will keep you on your toes and get the best out of you.

3. On a personal note, this year and particularly COVID-19 have taught me to appreciate family and friends more and to prioritise health. 

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Despite the impact of COVID-19, by October 2020 MENA VC investment has exceeded full-year funding in 2019. Access the numbers and get more data in our October 2020 Dashboard.