We know how Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng uses his Facebook account.
He was powerful enough to discredit Kast’s Tlatsa Lebala event. With more than 145k likes, he is influential enough to exert his persuasion on his followers. From posts about preserving bananas and the four kings project, he fully interacts with his audience either positively or negatively.
Then there is former president, Ian Khama who has 141k likes (less than Olopeng) and is verified and very active on Facebook.
With his #SuperSKI tag, he is quite an influential figure and rarely posts anything without visuals.
It is not just the number of followers that indicates a level of influence but it is the relationship and interaction with followers that matters.
There are so many other powerful social media influencers like Vee Mampeezy who would boast about his luxurious cars and people will still find a way to share the post a thousand times.
With more than 180k likes on Facebook tabloid personalities like Daniel Dan Kenosi are some of the influencers who hold an important position for brands and current affairs.
Brands like Bolux Group and Cene Media love social media influencers like BTV Flava Dome’s Sadi Dikgaka because they can create trends and encourage their followers to buy products they promote. Then on Instagram and Twitter you get glued to Abigail Kope and Charity Mbulawa Baaitse’s sense of style in fashion and makeup. You definitely can’t miss Tumie Nthutang who is a blogger, fashion stylist and social media influencer.
That is just a few of them, but there is a massive explosion of social media happening now and no one can deny it. Remember when Twelebs and Felebs used to post content on social media just to attract likes and gain fame? Well that is a thing of the past because Influencers have taken over.
Influencers in social media are people who make regular posts about their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic.
These people have built a reputation on their preferred social media channels like Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and they acquire large followings of keen people who view their content.
Social media has in the past decade grown rapidly in importance therefore the content we see promotes a certain lifestyle and behaviour. Batswana actively use social media especially Facebook so they sometimes look up to influencers in social media to guide them with their decision-making.
From celebrities to industry experts, leaders Bloggers, content creators and Micro Influencers there are majority of influencers who bombard us with their content everyday and we never seem to oblige.
Research reveals that the bulk of social influencer marketing today occurs in social media. Bloggers in social media have the most genuine and active relationships with their fans. Brands are now recognising and encouraging this.
There are many highly influential people on social media and if they positively mention your product in a post, it can lead to supporters wanting to try it (your product) out.
Motlha’s Mmamotse song became more popular earlier this year after Charma Gal endorsed the song by singing along to the lyrics in a Youtube video.
Comedian Mjamaica once endorsed Magnum and his video became an instant hit across southern Africa. If a page on social media is influential enough, brands may be able to buy a sponsored post.
This allows influencers to post and in the end heavily influence the post on the client’s behalf. Many influencers have built up sizeable followings in specific sectors such as personal development, finance, health and music just to mention but a few.
Micro influencers on the other side are normal everyday people who have become known for their knowledge about some specialist niche. As a result, they have gained a sizeable social media following amongst devotees of that forte.
Some micro influencers are happy to promote a brand but are unlikely to want to be involved with an inappropriate brand for their audience.
The nature of influence is changing as more people are becoming famous. Experts say that micro influencers are the influencers of the future especially in Africa.
Since Africa has high mobile penetrations on the Internet than anywhere else in the world, recently the CEO of Flow Communications, South Africa Tara Turkington gave insight about digital communicators and influencers at the Business of Truth Forum in Johannesburg.
“An influencer is by nature subjective. This person is setting out on social media to set an agenda and exert influence,” she said.
Turkington added that an influencer sometimes aims to change behaviour like encouraging someone to buy something or think in a certain way.
She said Facebook is the biggest social media in Africa besides WhatsApp, but Instagram is also catching up. We have seen the rise of influencers on Instagram stories and they have replaced Snapchat in the past year,” she highlighted.
She said Instagram allows people to promote a product and then swipe once to purchase it. Turkington said influencers understand that every post on social media should be visual.
“You can’t anymore put a tweet on Twitter without a picture or video. You can but you can’t get much response from it,” she said.
She said celebrities are the most influential people on Twitter. Turkington said world leaders are the most influential people on social media.
“Uhuru Kenyatta is the most powerful leader in Africa on social media and he is verified,” she said. Turkington said what separates influencers from the rest is that Influencers post regularly, put up pictures, use hashtags and @mention powerful people.
CNN executive editor in the U.S. Samira Jafari said that maintaining trust in a polarised world is not easy especially in the era of social media influencers.
She said influencers are so powerful that they can tarnish the credit and trust the media have with their audience. She said as a result there is some majority who still have trust in news media, but there are other significant pockets that still don’t trust the media at all and in the end they resort to influencers.