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Normal Influencers

Get this: we can be influencers. You. Me. Everyone. A bunch of your fellow South Africans already are – and that number is on the rise.

Between the pandemic, the unemployment crisis, our increasingly switched-on, interconnected “online” lives, and the general realisation that you can earn a real income outside of formal employment… well, a side hustle was a no-brainer. It’s the influencer part that’s the surprise. Because isn’t being an influencer the exclusive playground of the famous, the super-talented, the beautiful few? Nope. Not anymore.

Pieter Groenewald, CEO of Nfinity Media, shares his insights into the hustle culture in SA. And explains why you – yes you – could be the country’s next top influencer.

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The post-pandemic working landscape is LUSH.

If anything, the pandemic accelerated the rate at which the side hustle has become a permanent fixture on the working landscape, as independent workers find exciting ways to use their skills to bring in extra cash. “Currently, it’s estimated that one in three employed South Africans has a side hustle of sorts. And with the continued evolution of online influencer marketing, that number is set to increase. The rapid pace of digitisation has itself contributed to the growth of the side hustle on social media specifically,” says Pieter.

Tech is taking regular peeps to the moon!

Advances in technology and the increased use of social media in brand marketing has enabled people to work wherever they are, on whatever they want, explains Pieter. “The ability to leverage these advances has inspired tech-savvy professionals and innovative individuals to find more ways to monetise the time they spend online,” he adds.

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So, want to get in the game? Here’s what you need to know…

1/ A shift from celebrity status.

Traditionally, the trend in influencer marketing has been for brands to work with celebrities who have hundreds of thousands (dare we say, millions?) of followers, because the perception was that that’s where the value lies, says Pieter. “Of course, along with the many followers would also come a hefty fee, driving up the cost for a marketing exercise that didn’t always deliver tangible results. A lot of marketers were left with the question as to what they’d achieved with the influencer activity. And the answer isn’t always easy to come by,” he says.

2/ Big followings don’t count (as much).

Evolutions in the approach to influencer marketing suggests things are changing. Brands have come to realise that big follower counts don’t necessarily mean something if the followers don’t care about what’s being shared, says Pieter. “At the same time, celebrity audiences realise that much of the brand activity on their accounts is the result of an impressive pay cheque, as opposed to an organic, tried-and-tested review,” he says. In its own way, this has brought into question the value this brings for brands, with ROI (that’s return on investment FYI) coming under scrutiny, as marketing budgets are pulled tighter and the call for real value increases.

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3/ Power to the people.

Whether you know it or not, you have a circle of influence, and it can give real value to brands – while putting real money into your pocket. “Normal” people like you are fast becoming a hot commodity in the world of influencer marketing – and we say, more power to you!

4/ The rise of the “normal” person influencer.

“Normal people working as influencers have become increasingly important for marketers – and for good reason. Not only do they produce niche content, but their audiences are highly engaged. They’re real people who have conversations with other people; who exist within real communities; and have a real impact in the lives of those around them,” says Pieter.

They [normal people] create real connections, so any brand or product advocacy is authentic because it’s founded on trust. “The people they’re talking to, from their friends to their family to their followers, are more inclined to believe them. And when the time has been taken, and an effort made, to match the person with a brand they already know and use, the result is something exceptional!” says Pieter.

As marketing magic goes, there are few things more meaningful and effective than something real. Real people who help brands create real connections with real audiences and give real results. And when it comes to the world of influencer marketing, what could be better than that?

Photograph by Rawpixel.

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