In Africa, marketing influencers are a force to be reckoned with for the ability to shape public opinion on industry trends and spur conversation on hot topics like ad targeting and localization. African marketing influencers are difficult to find because of the multitude of languages that African social media users use online.
Some of the metrics that help identify an influencer are the number of posts they have about a certain topic, combined with the level of engagement they receive.
Influencers in Africa are making a huge impact on many fronts. They’re leading the way on issues like human rights, climate action, and children’s rights. They are leveraging the tools and platforms not only to have a source of income but also to voice their opinions and ideas to the world.
Africa is a huge continent, and it hosts a diverse set of populations, cultures, languages, and traditions. Marketing influencers remind other marketers that ‘there isn’t only one Africa, but many’.
You might remember Majimbo from her funny antics and ear-popping laugh as she munches on a bag of chips. Majimbo has worked with Italian fashion brand Valentino, appeared in campaigns for Fenty, won an E! People’s Choice Award, and signed with the US Create Artists Agency. Talk about success.
Top themes surrounding ‘Elsa Majimbo’ during the past 13 months on Twitter.
TikTok mega star Khaby Lame’s rise to stardom was the result of him pointing out the obvious - literally. The point I’m making is that African influencers are changing perceptions about the ‘Dark Continent’ and are acting as a gateway to the world.
What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is the act of hiring a public figure or a high-profile persona to promote or endorse a certain product or service online. The influencer marketing industry has evolved in recent years as new social media platforms have emerged and offered versatility to both creators and brands.
While the industry remains largely unregulated, there are certain rules and standards that formalize the relationships to ensure high ROI and a sustainable business model. For example, nowadays there are influencer marketing agencies that negotiate and seek out opportunities on behalf of influencers.
This model has proven to be successful, especially with first-time influencers who don’t always have the business acumen to understand the intricacies of contracts.
Influencer marketing has become a popular career choice for many people for its appeal and notion that ‘anyone can do it’. But, influencer marketing requires constant dedication and commitment to deliver content that people like to see. Influencers lose their popularity just as quickly as they had it.
Influencer marketing in Africa
The influencer marketing industry in Africa has generally lagged behind other parts of the world. The reason could be that brands consider the continent as an emerging market and too difficult to tactically target. In a nutshell, there wasn’t a big incentive for brands to work with African influencers who will reach a very niche market segment that might not necessarily convert. After COVID, marketing budgets have shrunk and marketers are starting to look for alternatives to increase organic traffic and generate revenue.
One key way that marketers can overcome those financial challenges is by fostering brand love with consumers. Brand love is an emerging metric that combines: consumer satisfaction, consumer trust, and consumer passion. What this means is that brands should focus their attention on how they can elevate their brand’s perception in the minds and hearts of consumers. One relatively easy way to do this is to identify and engage the right type of influencers.
Furthermore, African influencers themselves face the issue of having to fund themselves out of their own pocket. It is precarious to quit one’s job and fully dedicate time and energy to create content on social media. There’s no safety net in case things go bad.
On the bright side, Majimbo’s and Khaby Lame’s fame and popularity uplifted the entire creator economy in Africa. It showed the world that African content creators have potential and know what makes people engage.
In its plan to increase its user base in Africa, TikTok decided to work directly with creators to fund and mentor them on content creation and curation. TikTok announced a cash grant of 860,000 rands to 20 South African creators, helping them make the leap toward becoming an influencer.
In a similar fashion, YouTube and Instagram both created their own funds in an effort to woo users to their platforms. Competition drives innovation. The biggest winners in all of this are influencers who are passionate about what they do and want to continue doing it.
What role do marketing influencers play in Africa?
As mentioned before, Africa is a huge market with people having diverse cultures and backgrounds. Marketing influencers use platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with like-minded individuals from across the continent to share insights on copywriting, marketing best practices, and community building. The community-building role that marketing influencers play leads to an exponential growth of the industry and therefore creates leverage for influencers to better negotiate and agree with potential partners.
Marketing influencers in Africa actively participate in thought-leadership events as well as networking ones. From podcasts, ask-me-anything interviews, Twitter spaces, to Twitter chats, marketing influencers in Africa are leading the conversation on all fronts.
One key Twitter chat that I follow is #AfricaTweetChat which is led by our good friend Janet Machuka. The weekly Twitter chat is evolving to become a Twitter Space (audio) where each week Janet hosts an expert in their field to talk about key marketing trends. Check out my participation from last year.
The world map of Tweets mentioning #AfricaTweetChat during the past 13 months shows that Kenya, the USA, and Uganda are where the majority of results are coming from.
To summarize, marketing influencers in Africa play a major role in:
- Educating the audience on the latest trends and advancements in marketing and consumer intelligence
- Entertaining the audience with thought-provoking ideas, memes, and videos
- Networking with the broader community who are interested in digital marketing and ways to monetize their hobbies
- Introducing brands to a market that has long been disregarded
How can brands work with African social media influencers?
Global brands can collaborate with African social media influencers in a multitude of ways. Affiliate marketing is becoming a popular way for small businesses and emerging brands to collaborate with influencers. Simply put, affiliate marketing is a form of performance marketing where the influencer gets a cut from each deal made through their efforts. For example, if an influencer has a link in their Instagram bio and someone buys a product through that link, the influencer would get a percentage of the profit.
African social influencers are diverse in the topics they talk about. They have found their voice and their ‘why’. Also, African influencers have a solid understanding of what makes their audience click, in addition to optimizing their content and diversifying formats.
For brands, it is important that they follow these steps in order to collaborate with influencers who will become their champions:
- Identify the influencers who suit and match the brand’s voice, mission, and vision
- Ensure that the influencer actually likes the brand and is not just doing it for the money
- Customize the collaboration proposal to the influencer’s expectations and market (a genuine message goes a long way)
- Discuss expectations and outcomes from the influencer from the start
- Flesh out the details of the campaign and why you’re working with the influencer
- Give the influencer the creative freedom to do it their own way – that’s how they became an influencer in the first place
- Look for authenticity and relevance in the influencer.
Who are this year’s top marketing influencers in Africa?
To identify this year’s top marketing influencers in Africa I first identified the keywords that influencers in this space might use. Second, I built a Talkwalker project that collected Twitter data from the past 13 months with a query searching for results that include “marketing”, “social media strategy”, “affiliate marketing”, and so on.
Keep in mind that I included those keywords in the majority of languages that users use in Africa like French, English, Arabic, Swahili, Zulu, and Afrikaans.
After cleaning up the data, the results below show the top 10 influencers ranked based on the number of engagements.
List of Africa’s top marketing influencers in 2022 ranked based on number of engagements.
What does it take to be a marketing influencer in Africa?
As you can see from the list, being an influencer does not necessarily mean having a large number of followers or tweeting mindlessly using the trending hashtags of the day. It requires genuine interest in marketing and its potential, as well as a commitment to continuously provide value to audiences.
In today’s attention-driven economy, marketing influencers understand the importance of brevity and being authentic. In order to become a marketing influencer in Africa, you need to do these key steps:
Post fact-checked and thought-provoking content, not only sensational material that gets clicks.
- Engage your audience as if it’s in the room with you right now. Imagine yourself in a virtual party where you’re the center of attention and have to get the party started.
- Provide value whichever way you like – don’t add to the noise that’s already out there.
- Be unique and embrace your special attributes. Anyone can copy and paste content. Be better than that.
- Be genuine, authentic, and generally a nice person.
Bonus: African influencers who should be on your radar
For any marketer and consumer intelligence expert reading this, you’re in luck. Our team has compiled a list of 250+ African influencers who are making a difference in their fields.
The list allows you to filter through based on audience size, country, and theme. Make sure to download the list for free here.
Marketing influencers in Africa are leading the change. They are providing their audiences with knowledge and entertainment, and most importantly: hope. When each influencer embraces their uniqueness and uses social media as a platform for improving society the whole industry is uplifted.
For marketers looking for inspiration on how to become influencers themselves, I highly encourage you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter Market Pulse, or speak to one of our experts today.