The Art (& Science) of Digital Influencer Marketing In Kenya
According to our own unverified estimates, there are in the region of 10 million social media users in Kenya with a confirmed 5.7 million Facebook users, as of this writing. When you consider that Safaricom confirmed that they have 7.8 million smartphones on their mobile network back in May 2016 as part of their financial disclosures, this number is not far-fetched. Indeed, smartphones and social media are a marriage made in heaven as they converge the benefits of ‘always on’ high speed Internet, user generated content, and digital conversations. The trifecta of mobile, social and content has led to rise of a new class of digerati known as ‘Digital Influencers’.
Typically, a Digital Influencer is someone who has a massive following on various social media due to the fact that they create digital content that resonates with specific community of social media users. There are also Digital Influencers who are well-known and popular media personalities who leverage that visibility on social media. Other Digital Influencers are socialites or celebrities who are popular for being controversial or famous and as such have managed to attract large numbers of followers on their social media. As Kenya approaches peak social media and the Internet at large becomes more and more pervasive on a national basis, Digital Influencers have become an increasingly important avenue for brand and business promotion(s).
One of the reasons why Digital Influencer marketing is thriving in Kenya is that consumers have become increasingly unresponsive to paid media – whether its via digital or analogue channels. The cost of paid media has generally become more and more expensive each year even as reach is declining and brands are looking at novel ways of connecting with consumers for their various offerings. Therefore, the main attributes that businesses and brands are hoping to tap into when it comes to Digital Influencers is that of authenticity and trust. Digital Influencers become popular due to the fact that they often create content that comes across as being impartially ‘real’ and ‘honest’ as opposed to having a marketing agenda of ‘selling’ something.
Since consumers follow various Digital Influencers with the aim of being educated, informed or entertained, they are often quite receptive to any content they may publish. If a brand or business seeks to leverage Digital Influencers in Kenya, they first need to establish which Digital Influencers are the right fit for them from a content and target consumer perspective. This means doing the homework and researching all available candidates from a data-driven perspective – even though this is a mix of art and science! In addition, when using Digital Influencers, brands or business MUST let the Digital Influencers use their preferred modus operandi of content creation and storytelling so as to ‘weave’ the brand message in manner that is authentic to what they normally publish on social media. Lastly, performance measurement may or may not follow typical digital metrics of sales conversions, impressions and clicks since Digital Influencers can enhance brand sentiment which can outweigh all of these other metrics.
Digital Influencers in Kenya use a myriad of social media to tell their stories. For instance, popular blogger Biko Zulu uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to amplify the visibility of his blog posts. Sharon Mundia aka This Is Ess is a Fashion Blogger but she also uses YouTube, Facebook and Instagram to amplify the reach of her her blog content – she also publishes content that is unique to each of these other social media platforms. Kalekye Mumo is mostly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where she uses short-form content to great effect with her massive following on these social media. Professional Photographer Mutua Matheka aka TruthSlinger uses Instagram as his primary channel for social media content. So, in each instance, depending on your brand or business, as well as digital campaign objectives, you would use different Digital Influencers on different social media for different scenarios.
Global research has shown that Digital Influencers generally deliver a 5X return (or higher) Return on Investment (ROI) for digital campaigns which is a much higher performance than say typical Google or Facebook Ads. In addition, Millennials and Generation Z generally do NOT trust what brands say about themselves but DO trust the opinion of a Digital Influencer who says what they think about a brand – good or bad. This means that quite often brand promotion(s) via Digital Influencers requires that Digital Influencers themselves are ‘sold’ on a brand they are promoting or else the lack of authenticity will compromise trust. Imagine a TechBlogger promoting a new Android smartphone and yet is posting updates using an iPhone? These are the small nuances that consumers notice and can have a huge backlash for the brand. There is also the risk of Digital Influencers misrepresenting a brand which can have painful implications.
At the end of the day, as brands struggle to navigate the realm of Digital Influencer marketing in Kenya, there are equal measures of risk and reward as this is still very much a nascent form of digital marketing. However, its getting bigger everyday as more and more brands and businesses turn to a marketing approach that has the promise of delivering better results than other alternatives. Kenyan consumers are changing everyday thanks to the reach and impact of social media via smartphones and broadband Internet. This is not going away! Digital Influencer marketing is only going to get bigger and the sooner you get started, the easier it gets. If you would like to have a conversation with us at Dotsavvy on how you can use Digital Influencer marketing to promote your business or brands, drop us a line here.