Sola is a brand manager in a multinational PR and marketing firm which has been operating in Nigeria for over 50 years. The firm has just been awarded a contract to run the re-launch campaign of a household product, that the manufacturer wants rebranded to appeal to a younger segment of the market.

Prior to now, public perception is that the product is only suited for older men and women (“old school generation”). The biggest task for Sola’s firm is getting genuine people who fit the profiles of the target audience and are ready to testify of the product’s new “cool” status to people like themselves.

Findings by Sola’s firm reveal that majority of the people, who fall under the target group of the product, are not regular newspaper readers. Rather, they listen to the radio for music and chitchat about trending topics, not for news. They also spend most of their spare time on social media, especially Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

For Sola, a few years ago, the usual media for pitching content or stories were through newspapers, radio and TV stations, but things have since changed, as these particular target consumers have changed locations. In a bid to connect with the destination market, Sola’s firm “followed” them to where they now play and work — the Social Media. There, the firm was able to get the target audience’s attention on social media via a group of internet users popularly called Social Influencers, who most of the intended users follow and engage with on different social media platforms.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has become one of the most popular and fast-growing channels for brand managers in the country. According to a survey by the United Kingdom’s branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketers, 3 out of 4 brands now turn to private individuals to promote their products and services, especially via digital media channels. This is true globally and the situation in Nigeria is no different.

What started out as a pastime for few internet enthusiasts has now grown into a huge multi-million Naira industry and little did the early influencers in the country know the full extent to which the online space would thrust them into the epicentre of today’s technology-driven marketing ecosystem. Clicking likes on Instagram and Twitter is no longer a thing one does out of boredom, as posting and socialising online has become a lucrative business and a way to build a brand.

A paradigm shift in brand promotion

In the past, PR agencies like Sola’s firm were the go-to for brands seeking to use influential personalities, and celebrities to leverage their products. Currently, there seems to be a paradigm shift in the advertising ecosystem.

A recent research by the Chartered Institute of Marketers (UK branch) shows that 83% of consumers are more likely to trust the recommendation of a friend over traditional adverts. This was further corroborated by Mr. Mike Idi-Kalu, a PR/Brand Manager who revealed that in today’s consumer landscape, consumers now prefer to listen to fellow consumers when making purchasing decisions, instead of listening to companies as they did in the past.

According to him

“they now listen to each other and their favorite influencers who have huge followers across various social media platforms.”

This change can be largely attributed to a change in tastes of consumers as most now want to learn about a product through content, and not giant display billboards or other types of banner ads. Influencer marketing enriches the consumer experience by placing brands and products in a form that consumers can connect and interact with through social media platforms.

The growing list of Influencers 

The list of influencers continue to increase daily, while the fees they charge vary depending on the brand and the duration of the campaign.

Findings by Nairametrics shows that for Instagram videos, influencers charge between ₦100,000 to ₦500,000, while content meant for Twitter goes for between ₦100,000 and ₦200,000; however, this also depends on the popularity of such influencers and number of followers on his/her page; broda Sagi charges up to ₦400,000 per video on Instagram, Maraji, in an interview, confirmed she makes anywhere from ₦500,000 to ₦1 million per skit video. Popular influencers include @Ebuka_Akara, Oluwa Dolla, Charles Okocha, Woli Arole, Woli Agba, The Pamilerin, Tunde Ednut, Laura Ikeji, Nnedu Wazobia, Pope Piano, just to mention a few.

On the other hand, brand owners also have metrics to measure the performances of their campaigns and hashtags, most times using the number of retweets, likes, shares, views on their handles and accounts, sales growth, marketing ROI, consumer behavioural change.

Posts from influencers can also impact on a brand’s search engine optimisation. According to research, 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are as a result of influencer marketing. By implication, the more people mention your brand on social media, the more popular and relevant you will be on Google. It’s that simple!

A wake-up call for PR firms

Influencers in the country have become a force to reckon with in modern-day marketing. PR firms could only ignore them at their own peril. Interestingly, the ecosystem is growing rapidly, both in terms of numbers of influencers and revenue they generate from doing brand campaigns. In a country like Nigeria with a ridiculously high level of poverty and youth unemployment, influencer marketing affords these influencers (who are mostly youths) opportunities to make legitimate incomes, while being armed with nothing but a smart-phone, internet data, a laptop and loads of free time.

Consumers have changed channels through which they can be reached and PR agencies are lagging behind. PR agencies in the country must wake from their slumber and be ready to improve on their sphere of influence and following on social media, as these influencers are not slowing down any time soon and are ready to create deeper holes in their pockets.

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