The rise of social media has changed the dynamics of how we communicate and stay in touch with the world. Almost every industry has been revolutionized by the fast-paced, innovative and upbeat ways of doing things with just the click of the finger.
Much like citizen journalism, the world of marketing and content creation is becoming anyone’s game as social media gives consumers the power to create and lead the kind of content they want to see. Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, you name it, all these platforms are changing the narrative by giving traditional consumers the power to become creator and spectator, as well as critic and dictator. The once wide gap between the business as the marketing content creator and the consumer simply being the receiver is steadily narrowing down as the voice provided by social media amplifies the consumer’s role in getting the content and service they require.
Traditionally, businesses relied on partnerships with well-known and already established celebrities to draw the attention of consumers and make a reputable name for themselves. A product was only as good as the face endorsing it, leaving businesses in the cutthroat game of securing only the best for their marketing campaigns.
Everyday Women Leading The Influencer Pack
Influencer marketing is changing the face of the marketing industry and turning creative entrepreneurial enthusiasts into online sensations. In South Africa, ordinary women are leading the influencers game by journeying with the country through their passions for make-up and beauty, cooking, fashion. These women, diverse in the delivery of their craft, are simply everyday people who take to Twitter, YouTube and the gram to share their interests in cooking, the latest trends, face beats and doing life as a modern woman in South Africa. With social media giving everyone their own platform to share their thoughts and opinions, influencer marketing has been on a steady rise.
152 971 Influencers In South Africa
Media update’s Aisling McCarthy writes that the majority of influencers in South Africa fall within what’s called the nano-influencer category. This category is for influencers with a following of between 1000 to 4999 followers. McCarthy said a recent study done by data-driven marketing platform Humanz, revealed that there are 152 791 South African influencers on Instagram and 69 488 on Twitter. The country plays hosts to a staggering 138 470 nano-influencers on Instagram and 59 107 on Twitter, the study found.
“While most South African brands have traditionally used celebrities as influencers, this study shows that nano-influencers have higher engagement rate percentages. Since these nano-influencers have smaller audiences, they are generally seen as more trustworthy by their followers”, McCarthy said.
Are They Reliable?
What makes them so popular among their peers? Their relatability. They are down to be earth women, within reach of their audience, transparent and honest in their engagement in a way that instantly grabs the attention of their followers. They find their niche and continue running with it until it gets attention, opening them up to immense internet popularity. Ultimately, they become a voice of authority among their peers. They shape and influence audience opinion while focusing solely on their likes and dislikes, as well as what works for them.
Real Business features editor Annie May Noonan says
influencers establish a strong trust with their followers. Consumers turn to their “expert gods” for opinions on the best goods and services. They speak to an audience that accepts them and receives their thoughts too. Noonan attributes this growth of influencers to the current generation’s colossal reliance on the internet. “They are more online content driven. They love YouTube and watch content on this platform at much higher rates”, she says.
Lessons From Social Influencers
The rise of YouTube celebrities and other amateur influencers doesn’t just affect marketing. A deeper look reveals that the popularity of influencers provide insight into where the business world might be heading today.
According to Claire Hopwood, author of Six Commandments for Surviving the Customer Revolution, there are three prime lessons that businesses can take from influencers.
– One of the reasons that people are attracted to influencers is because of the accessibility of these online personalities. Consumers seek a two-way dialogue, and Hopwood says in the same way that YouTube viewers want to engage with influencers directly, consumers want to feel heard by businesses. “They want to share their input, and they want to know that their feedback was considered.”
– Another thing Hopwood says is that influencers are good at is building communities with their followers. She says having a strong relationship with your community can result in tangible, financial benefits.
– And lastly, the “everyday” consumer can be as valuable as an influencer, Hopwood says. The explosive growth of social media influencers shows that regular people can become influential quickly and easily. Hopwood, therefore, says that brands can’t afford to slack when providing a great consumer experience every time. “Don’t discount the collective influence of your everyday consumers”, she says.
The rise of influencers demonstrates how companies today are in the midst of a customer revolution. Consumers have the upper hand in the company-consumer relationship.
Companies that are willing to learn from influencers and who take the time to engage their community of consumers will find themselves better suited and equipped to thrive in the age of the empowered customer. This may suggest that it’s time for businesses to tap into the niche market of partnering with social media influencers in order to fully access the social media audience and capitalize on the rapid growth of the digital space.