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How social media influencers are shaping public opinion

Influencer marketing has registered an explosive growth in recent times with an entire industry of celebrity-level creators getting paid to share brand sponsorships with their millions-strong followers.

However, savvy marketers have begun setting their sights on the influencers who aren’t nearly as popular as their big-name peers, which has driven fresh interest in smaller-scale outreach.

Nano Influencers are slowly taking over the influencer’s space, a move that could shake up the market.

According to the latest data by Wowzi, a firm that makes scalable influencer campaigns accessible to brands and companies, this tide is changing.

While the most popular accounts seem to offer the largest potential audience reach, smaller accounts like micro or nano-influencers often have more sway than their big-name peers.

With certain influencers commanding followings into the millions, securing an endorsement from one can seem like an incredibly powerful move for a brand.

However, the tide is slowly turning, and increasingly brands are seeing the benefits of working with micro or nano-influencers meaning it’s actually possible to work with your favourite brands even if you only have a few hundred followers.

Mr Brian Mogeni Wowzi Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer said companies are increasingly aligning their marketing strategies to tap into nano content creators looking to monetize their social media accounts and develop sustainable income streams outside of traditional or formal employment.

“Emerging markets are low trust environments, and so the messenger really matters. An endorsement online from someone you really know goes a lot farther than a celebrity endorsement, for example. As a result, nano influencers with smaller, more intimate and engaged followers deliver better-qualified sales leads. And everyone has influence,” said Mr Mogeni.

“Nano-influencers are social media users with 250 to 5000 followers. Engagement on posts by nano-influencers is nearly three times higher than celebrity personalities,” he explained.

He gave an example of Linda Okero, who has a full-time job and part-time content creator. She has under 2,000 Instagram followers, and she is an example of what is known as a nano-influencer.

Looking at her pages, she posts social media content that is sponsored by brands like East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL), Coke, Netflix, and charges, based on the number of deliverables.

“Communities are built on trust and conversation, for a long time we have believed that for brands to build a community it had to be driven by influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. However we are demonstrating to brands that true influence is about leveraging authenticity and I believe that is why brands are paying attention to nano-influencers,” she said.

Last week, Absa Bank Kenya Chief Executive Jeremy Awori who served as the Chief Guest at Social Media Week Nairobi said often, when people speak about influencers, they think about the big celebrity names and forget the local nano-influencers who connect with the audience especially those outside the cities.

“These influencers live among them, speak their language and share in their beliefs, therefore increasing chances of conversion. We also need to pursue strategic partnerships between the private and public sector in order to achieve the growth that we seek through this channel,” he said.

He added that there was a need to achieve a balance between legacy and new media to reach a diverse audience through the media they consume.

Wowzi, officially launched into the market last week, and has since signed up 60,000 influencers in the East African region primarily by word of mouth so far and has carried out 10,000 campaigns for over 150 clients.

The firm has announced plans to create one million gig jobs for African youth in 2022 through its online marketplace, after successfully delivering over 150,000 paid jobs in 2021.

The company pays out Sh5 million every week to influencers amounting to Sh260 million every year.

“Mobile use has become a key driver of commerce in African markets, and it’s where young people already spend their time. Youths only require lightweight remote training to master the key principles of sharing brand messages, so suddenly anyone with a phone can influence their peers through social media,” added Mr Mogeni.

East Africa has 20 million social media users according to Hootsuite Digital 2021 Data Report.

Kenya leads the pack with 11 million social media users, 20.2 percent of the population followed by Tanzania at 5.4 million users representing 8.9 percent of the population while Uganda has about 3.4 million social media users representing 7.3 percent of the population.

Mr Mogeni announced the firm plans to enter three new markets including Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa over the next month.

“In September 2021, Safaricom engaged a small “army” of influencers to create TikTok videos about a new product. Within seven hours of going live, the challenge generated 3 million views for the hashtag with thousands of user-generated posts. Within a week, the hashtag garnered 8 million views,” he explained.

“Those are campaign results that would not have been possible previously had Safaricom only been able to manually engage a dozen influencers directly for the same campaign.”