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How African Influencers are Leveraging Technology to Market Products and Services for Businesses

How African Influencers are Leveraging Technology to Market Products and Services for Businesses

Marketing for African influencers utilising technology

Influencer marketing is a huge space filled with many profitable opportunities for creators and brands, with technology playing a pivotal role.

By Michael Akuchie

It wasn’t until last year after watching Dr Chinonso Egemba, popularly called Aproko Doctor, discuss the various benefits of water that I started taking my daily water intake seriously. That was perhaps the first time I was influenced by someone who was not a friend or relative. Since discovering Aproko Doctor first on X (formerly known as Twitter) and then on Facebook Reels, I have made it a habit to adopt most of his health tips.

Although I can get medical advice from a physical or virtual consultation with my general practitioner (GP), I have grown accustomed to hearing Aproko Doctor go on about how water is beneficial and why licking oranges or consuming citrus drinks while battling malaria fever is a terrible idea. I choose to listen to Aproko Doctor for two specific reasons. Firstly, he is a medical doctor. 

Secondly, he has years of experience under his belt. None of those reasons are because he has built a large following across different social media platforms, granting him access to a large audience. 

While I do not judge the authenticity of information that a public figure shares based on the number of followers they have, a lot of companies do. This trust in public figures has led to several brand sponsorship deals, where creators across different fields market products to their audience. A great example is the TikTok video I saw of Aproko Doctor telling his fans about the ease of moving around without hustling for public transport, a convenience that ride-hailing company inDrive promises.

African influencer, Aproko Doctor
African influencer, Aproko Doctor

Over the years, we have seen people with many followers announce various brand sponsorship and ambassador deals. These deals range from sports betting to sexual enhancement to money transfer services. In the digital age, product marketing has evolved from door-to-door activities to sending promotional emails, sponsoring advertising campaigns on social media, and most importantly, partnering with influencers to drive engagement and potentially boost sales. 

Global management consulting firm McKinsey defines influencer marketing as “a collaboration between popular social media users and brands to promote brands’ products and services.”  Aproko Doctor’s inDrive promotional video is an instance of influencer marketing. Another instance is the 30-minute video of Senegalese-Italian Khaby Lame telling viewers about not giving up on dreams while appearing in outfits sold by BOSS, an imprint of popular fashion company Hugo Boss. 

Influencer marketing continues to grow, according to findings from data analytics platform, Statista. As of December 2023, the market size had risen to $24 billion, with the platform highlighting social media’s vital role in increasing the appeal of endorsement deals between influencers and brands.

It is impossible to dispute Statista’s note on social media being helpful to influencers and brands, seeing as promotional material like videos often accompanied with hashtags are published on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and X. Each of these sites has a sizeable number of daily users, enabling creators to reach a wide audience. However, having five hundred thousand or two million followers does not automatically translate to the conversion of sales. 

Beyond having the platform to reach thousands of potential buyers, influencers must develop unique strategies to help convince users to try out the products and services. For instance, an influencer could use the storytelling method which involves sharing a personal experience about themselves to help the audience connect with the product or service. In Nigeria, many skit makers try to infuse a product or service inside a particular skit. This is a win-win situation as it not only means the skit maker’s video will reach a wide audience, thereby increasing their influence. It also means the brand’s product will enjoy high visibility. 

African influencers, Don Jazzy, Burna Boy, and Erica
African influencers, Don Jazzy, Burna Boy, and Erica. Credit: Ventures Africa

Aside from social media, African influencers rely on video and sound editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Wondershare Filmora, and Adobe Audition to make their content look presentable to their audience. Of course, none of the above means anything if the influencer’s content is not reaching the target audience.

To avoid this, influencers also study their social media page’s analytics to learn more about their posts’ reach. This helps them to optimise their content for a better chance of finding the right demographic of users. It should be noted that some creators also start live video streams on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram where they can chip in a product or service before an active audience. This is typically done by influencers with a large following. 

While influencers have utilised technology to grow their fan base, increase brand awareness, and increase credibility, there is an ugly side to influencer marketing that demands attention. Anyone with an internet-enabled phone can create an account on Facebook, Instagram, and the like.

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This means children, also known as minors, can easily join social media provided they have a compatible device and internet connection. Although there are no rules against minors belonging to social media, there is an increased risk of them encountering +18 content such as sexual wellness and alcoholic drinks online. Influencers can put a +18 warning in the caption, but that is often not enough to deter children from watching those sensitive videos and picking up a thing or two from them. 

Another con of influencer marketing is the fact that many creators are likely to accept any kind of gig, regardless of whether it clashes with their morality or could do more harm than good to the community. Consider the sports betting epidemic we have lived in for many years. Sports betting is a game of luck and skill that can get addictive quickly. Unfortunately, it has also pushed people to the grave as seen in the report of the man who committed suicide after losing N2.5 million to sports betting. 

Sports betting apps marketed by influencers
Sports betting apps marketed by influencers. Credit: Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission

There are also stories of youths racking up huge debts following multiple losses in sports betting. Despite the high risk of failure, many Africans are still interested in taking home a huge win after staking a modest fee. According to a study conducted by GeoPoll, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria have the highest share of sports bettors in Africa.

Admittedly, the rising unemployment rate coupled with inflation has pushed many people to explore unconventional means of making money. Sports betting is one of those haphazard methods, and today many influencers promote it aggressively. 

Influencer marketing is a huge space filled with many profitable opportunities for creators and brands, with technology playing a pivotal role. While creators have used their platforms to introduce new products to followers, it is worrisome that the same platform is used to promote alcoholic drinks, sports betting, and other controversial products. While there are no laws dictating the kind of deals influencers should accept, it is expected that they should only promote products with proven benefits. 

Michael Akuchie is a tech journalist with four years of experience covering cybersecurity, AI, automotive trends, and startups. He reads human-angle stories in his spare time. He’s on X (fka Twitter) as @Michael_Akuchie & michael_akuchie on Instagram.

Cover photo credit: Forbes India

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