In some countries in the Middle East, specifically in the Gulf region, traditional media censorship remains a serious issue and people constantly refer to the internet as a source of unaffected and transparent source of information. However, Arabic content still represents a mere estimated 1% of total available content on the web, while Arab speaking users represent 6% of total users. Despite the scarcity of content, 50% of internet users in the Middle East watch YouTube on a daily basis, at a 100% annual growth rate; with Saudi Arabia, specifically, being the top YouTube nation per capita.
In this context, Loolia.com aims to provide women in the Middle East with authentic advice across lifestyle topics including fashion, beauty, cooking, parenting, psychology, and more. Loolia seeks to unleash the potential of influencers and experts by supporting them in producing and publishing premium video content.
What is the value proposition?
Influencers have managed to gather an impressive number of fans and followers on social media. The millennial generation constantly turns to their favorite bloggers to check the latest trends and personal updates. Whereas uploading pictures or tweeting is relatively easy, becoming a vlogger (video blogger) requires a certain expertise in video production, editing and in managing video content online in a consistent manner. In addition, brands have been seeking to engage with these influencers as a unique advertising channel through product endorsements. Loolia comes in with a clear value proposition to support influencers in video production, content management and audience building, as well as to enable their monetization potential through client and advertising campaigns management.
Content is King?
No, authentic content is. The success of influencers relies on their authenticity, in their ability to break the barrier of media to establish a personal relationship with their audience and inspire trust. In that sense, it is crucial to maintain the authenticity of the vloggers while supporting them. Loolia team selectively works with a limited number of influencers and ensures to establish personal relationship with them. The video producers on the team act beyond their technical role as personal advisors of the vlogger. The team works closely with the influencer to set up a monthly content calendar based on their fans’ input, pole-tent events and SEO best practices.
Build, Retain and Engage with your Audience?
Create Communities. First, by aggregating prominent influencers into one network, Loolia is leveraging and organically reaching existing communities. With synergetic lifestyle topics, an influencer’s fan easily starts to follow other influencers in the network. Second, content is specifically created to engage into conversations with the communities: asking them to share their thoughts, to suggest new ideas, to watch other similar videos, etc. Third, giveaways and “meet & greet events” are periodically launched to further nurture this relationship.
Digital Advertising: Performance v/s Branding?
Combine them, go for content marketing. The creative team in Loolia, including the influencers, work closely with brands to create premium custom content. The idea here is to blend the advertising message in stories that would resonate with the viewers while maintaining the authenticity of the influencer. Content is, then, repurposed in different formats and disseminated accordingly across platforms: on the website, and on social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Finally, results are analyzed and subsequent campaigns are adjusted based on performance and objectives.
In addition to scaling up the network of bloggers and the creative team, Loolia will soon introduce a paid video appointment feature that will allow users to directly engage with influencers and experts through one-on-one video chatting sessions.
N.B.: Loolia.com is a startup I co-founded in January 2014 and managed until I joined HBS. We are currently closing a Series A investment and a new CEO will be joining as of February 2016. You can find below a picture of the co-founders with our first investor 🙂