Loolia.com : providing authentic advice to Arab women

Loolia.com unleashing the potential of influencers to provide authentic advice to Arab women.

Why Loolia?

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.

What’s next?

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 🙂











First Solar: sustainability through innovation and vertical integration



Student comments on Loolia.com : providing authentic advice to Arab women

  1. I would love to understand how you can leverage “live” streaming services like Meerkat, Snapchat, or Periscope to create a more real-time experience with Loolia and perhaps also drive down production costs for these videos.

    1. Totally agree Yasmin! We are already leveraging “live” streaming services mainly on YouTube and Snapchat. It definitely fits in the authenticity bit of the content. On the cost front, it actually raises the costs as we need more human capital and more equipment to “live” stream an event (for YouTube live streaming specifically). However, one way to decrease costs is by re-purposing the “live” content into several short videos (bloopers, top 5 moments of the event, etc.).

  2. Thanks Eric, great idea.

    You described Loolia’s value proposition being to support influencers in video production, content management, etc, as well as to drive influencers monetization potential. Three main drivers of your operating model supporting the above objectives – aggregation of prominent influencers, tailored content and “meet & greet” events all seemingly focus on strengthening the relationships with the existing customer base. Since the monetization potential increases with the size and engagement of your customer base, I’m curious to know about the customer acquisition strategies employed.

    1. Thanks Kat! Actually, low customer acquisition cost is one of the benefits of the operating model. First, the influencers drive their users to the platform, so one way of growing the base is by growing the number of influencers. Second, the content is created in a way to boost sharability and engagement, which in turn helps in organically driving viewers. Third, content and the website are designed to optimize SEO.
      In addition, traditional customer acquisition techniques (SEM, facebook ads, PR, etc.) are also used.

  3. Cool organization Eric! I’m keen to understand a bit more about the influencer aggregation model. Are there any synergies/overlaps between influencers in different disciplines? Or is the benefit of aggregation all on the content user/customer side? I’m wondering whether, as well as providing different types of content for a defined customer segment (Arab women), there is an opportunity to have influencers help each other (and thus make some of your value-add crowd-sourced). Is there any overlap in what makes one influencer “authentic” and another “authentic”? Can that be a source of explicit or behind the scenes value to your contributors?

    1. Thanks TOM :p
      1- There are definitely synergies between influencers. Since the content is focused on lifestyle women content – influencers benefit from each other exposure, and in turn grow their own fan base. In some cases, content is created with two influencers together: for example, for a perfect wedding look, one expert would talk about fashion and another one would teach makeup, and they would debate it together.
      2- Loolia has a tiered-model for the influencers whereas Star vloggers act as mentors for new vloggers. One key aspect of the mentorship is giving advise on how to be authentic.
      Hope it answers your questions.

  4. This is so cool! Thanks for sharing Eric. A couple of questions that came to mind as I was reading through this:

    1) Do you worry about censorship issues in certain countries (especially Saudi Arabia)? I.e., do you think there’s a risk that the country bans access to the Loolia website?

    2) I think it’s clear that Loolia creates real value for women in the region, but I’d be interested in better understanding how you plan to capture that value. How does the revenue model work? And how do you think about the appropriate revenue split between Loolia and the influencers who are generating the content?

    1. Thank you!! Very interesting questions:
      1) Yes, Loolia worries about censorship, yet tries to tackle all the topics in a “subtle” manner. For example, “healthy couple relationships” would replace “sexology”, etc. Also, the network is exclusively composed of “women” influencers, so it is a women-to-women platform. On another note, even if access to the website is blocked, the content is also disseminated on facebook, youtube, snapchat which is very hard to censor.
      2) For now, revenues are generated from content marketing deals. Later on, paid video appointments or commercializing influencer branded products could lead to more monetization opportunities. As for the revenue share, Loolia is keen on being very fair with the vloggers as a key aspect of the operating model is establishing a personal relationship with them based on trust and mutual benefit.

Leave a comment