Branding & Marketing: Why “Influencers” are a Must-Have in 2017 -By Soyem Osakwe

Filed under: Brand Matters |


The brand, and marketing communications world is an interesting one. There’s always a buzzword/phrase flying around and in recent times, that word is “influencer marketing”.

Here’ a little background on how we all became obsessed with this phrase.

Celebrity endorsements have been around for so long, but in Nigeria, it became really pervasive about five or six years ago, when the telecom companies began multiple signings and endorsements of celebrities. No brand wanted to be left out.

Every week, it was quite common to see a large headline, announcing which celebrity had signed with what brand. Shortly after this fiasco, companies and brand managers quickly realized that celebrity endorsements didn’t equate financial returns or drive the engagement they hoped for. Most companies who had jumped on the bandwagon with celebrity endorsements began dropping celebs, one after the other.

Luckily, the growth of blogging, vlogging and social media, especially Instagram and YouTube, produced a new type of popularity (influence) in niche areas. What we have today, are several people who influence social behavior in different fields. In Nigeria, we have people like AskDamz, who’s quite popular for inspiring women to eat healthier and exercise, we have several others for food, fashion, entertainment, humour, shopping, style, travel etc.

Micro Influencers like the ones above tend to have smaller audiences and are better-targeted to a specific topic or even region. While their reach may not be as massive, (5k and above) studies show, that micro influencers develop better relationships with their audience, as well as the brands they work with.

In addition, micro influencers also tend to be more knowledgeable about their chosen area or topic; like film bloggers, NollwoodObserver, Filmscriptic and CinemaPointer who blog about African cinema and Nigerian Films. Influencers like these are able to produce more high quality, genuine content as a result. Which in turn, leads to a higher engagement rate than celebrities or even larger influencers.

Just in case you were wondering why celebrity endorsements were branded a sham by many brand and marketing managers, here are a few points:

  • You CANNOT trust celebrities with your brand image, and you really shouldn’t. In 2015, a Nigerian superstar, made a huge blunder while presenting an award for best actor to her colleague, at the AMVCA’s. One of the gifts attached to the best actor award was a 1 year’s supply of Amstel Malta (a low sugar malt drink). While congratulating the winner, the superstar, who at the time was the brand ambassador for Amstel, said: “Now you’re going to get FAT”. There’s no saying what happened after that incident, but it generated a lot of conversation online, as people wondered why an ambassador will deliberately say that. Fans assumed it was a bad joke.
  • Another reason why celeb endorsements may not work is, celebrities can make your brand feel unattainable, especially skin care, health, fitness or beauty brands. Sometimes, the presence of celebrities in the brands TVs or communication reinforce feelings or thoughts of inferiority. So, it doesn’t matter how much a consumer likes the artiste’s music/style or how great an actress the celebrity is, sometimes, they just can’t relate.

A few brands, though, have gotten celebrity endorsement right. Top of my head is the hair relaxer brand, supermodel Oluchi Orlandi represents. That’s a solid partnership there. Oluchi is gorgeous, has beautiful, healthy, Nigerian hair, which she wears often and the brand has always been at the forefront of healthy hair for the Nigerian woman.

To sum up, every brand manager must decide what is most important for the brand. While celebrities, can help achieve intense awareness within a short time frame, using multiple micro influencers targeted specifically to your audience, could be more effective in the long run. As influencers not only drive engagement, they’ve also worked hard, to build & sustain a relationship with your consumers, and by working with them you can leverage on this relationship and get your brand in front of an audience that is more likely to buy it and the best part, is you can track results. Now, that’s every brand managers dream.

About the Author

Soyem Osakwe is a Social Media Marketing Consultant who partners with companies and entrepreneurs to grow their personal and professional brands. After spending nearly, a decade working in marketing communications for multinational brands and startups, Soyem, knows what truly drives conversions, and it’s how well you connect with the people you’re trying to reach.

Send her an email: [email protected] or connect with her on  LinkedIn