By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Emirati serial entrepreneur Sara Al Madani said that overly commercial 'influencers' have "an expiry date"
Marketing and advertising agencies have “destroyed” the term “influencer” in the Middle East, according to serial entrepreneur Sara Al Madani.
Al Madani, a board member of the UAE Ministry of Economy’s SME Council and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, herself boasts 224,000 followers on Instagram, as well as over 260,000 on LinkedIn.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Al Madani said she believes the word ‘influencer’ – which she views as positive – has been corrupted by commercial interests.
“I love the word ‘influencer’, because it means you teach, help and nurture,” she said. “but I don’t like it anymore because of how people have made the word look. It sounds like a person who does ads for money.
“Has it been destroyed by people here [the Middle East]? Yes, it has. I blame marketing and advertising agencies. They made that name a commercial thing.”
Al Madani – who acknowledges she is often termed as an influencer – said that “real” influencers are those who try use their large followings to “change people’s lives.”
“It’s not about having millions of followers, or looking good on social media. That’s not an influencer,” she added. “Knowledge is for free. We have to pass it on.”
Later this year, Al Madani said she plans to open up a talent management agency that hopes to address one of the most common issues she sees with influencers in the region: mismanagement.
“I’ve seen the way that agencies manage talent. They take the influencer, and make them a money machine, but don’t teach them how to manage their finances,” she added.
“Agencies kill talent and give them an expiry date,” Al Madani said. “They teach them that everything is money. They become so commercial that their shelf life is short. If you’re commercial, someone is always going to come along who is better than you.”