A Case for and to the Influencers

By on December 18, 2017

In 2009 when I was joining Twitter, there wasn’t much in the way of a plan of action for this son of man. As is always the case with social media sites, the idea is to get on one of those much talked about social networking sites, bump into a few old friends, reconnect with them, perhaps meet a few new people (mostly of the opposite sex) and continue with your life. A decade ago, there weren’t many ground breaking plans for anyone joining social media.

Today, however, the terrain is different and there are more focused and well purposed moves one must make when joining social media – especially if they are interested in making a bit of money as an online influencer, brand ambassador or just good old sales person.

As someone who has curved out a bit of a career from struggling to do this influencer work, I can confidently say that while the industry is fairly new, quite unregulated and full of trial and error there is a whole load of confusion brought about by a failure to understand what exactly the rules of the digital and social media marketing game are. And since the space is mostly occupied by self taught ‘experts’ it is safe to say that there is generally no code of conduct. And this is okay because we all learn as we go along.

It however does not mean that we should be anarchic in our behaviour. Some bare minimums must be identified especially in the space of Social Media Influencer work.

Respect for one another

Lately, there is a whole lot of disrespect between companies and social media influencers it reeks of apathy. Companies disrespect influencers so much that influencers (who are often paid peanuts) return the favour by churning out shitty and half-baked endorsements here and there. No one is willing to take a knee and respect the other so it is simply a case of ‘bend over and let me have my way and later I will also bend over and let you have your way’. At the end, everyone is hurting.

It is true that many of us ‘influencers’ are quite poor and we mostly live from hand to mouth (or is it from keyboard to mouth). If it wasn’t for instagram filters, raked up Twitter Followers and made up happy Facebook posts, you would know that we have one meal every two days, we take things on credit at the local shop and we fight for cheap pioneer bus transport like everyone else. It is also true that we have some of the worst bargaining skills in the whole world.

One thing however that everyone needs to know is that influencers, just like other human beings deserve respect.

If you have an event/ product / service to sell and you call me up to attend and talk about it online and your offer is a decent dinner or a few drinks on the house, you should brace yourself because you are going to hell. By the time you call upon someone to help promote a product / service or event, it is assumed that you value this person. When you go ahead to offer them worthless hampers, invites to pathetic events or just peanuts, that can only mean that you don’t value them as much. Or you are simply a heartless human being.

And if, as many people like to say, ‘the budget is small and influencers were not budgeted for’ then there is no point having them. When you go to the supermarket to purchase items, you only get what you have budgeted and paid for. There is no chance you will tell Cathy, the lady at the teller, about how you need some beer cans or an extra loaf of bread yet you did not budget for it. Security will be called on you.

And so, this is an appeal to companies that send silky voiced ladies with delicious accents to tell us that ‘there is no budget for influencers but there will be free food and drinks and a flashdisk to walk away with’ that you are all going to hell. Just as you can’t walk to a TV Station or NewsPaper office and beg your way to a premium Advert, you shouldn’t expect someone to use their platforms to promote your product and/or service when you are not paying for it.

Besides, it is Christmas, why are you still this heartless?

Sometimes numbers lie

It is generally the norm that companies would rather work with influencers who have a fairly huge following online. While this is the ideal route to take, companies must always stop and think about the nature of the influencers they get. Some of the influencers who have huge numbers online will not necessarily do your brand justice. Some numbers are actually toxic for your brand and therefore you need just the right people to talk about your brand to the right audience and you are good to go.

What does this mean?

When companiess are looking for people to push their products or services, it makes sense for them to vet these influencers even before approaching. You will always have a list of potential influencers thrown your way at any single time. Take some time and study each of their content before you approach them. You want influencers who will not distort or misrepresent your brand, and you want people who will communicate the way you would like them to. You also want people who will not communicate your brand’s products while pushing a competitor’s product. All these things you can only see if you do a bit of vetting.

Using influencers

Most times before I do any influencer work, I like to have a candid conversation with a client about what they should expect from me and what I should expect from them so that everyone is clear on what their roles are. This helps the company to communicate the do’s and dont’s of their brand and it helps me to see whether or not I will actually add them any value. And once in a while I turn down such gigs not because I suddenly came in possession of a huge chunk of money, but because that particular brand is toxic for my online persona or I don’t see myself believing anything I will say for and about them and I might not give them as much value as they may expect. Probably explains why I am still the poor one among the lot.

Always remember that numbers are good but the right numbers are better.

Return on Investment

One of the reasons why companies are reluctant when it comes to the issue of using influencers is because of uncertainty around ROI. It is very easy for this to come up especially when you are pitching to a client for the first time. As someone who has walked into (and been sent out of) many boardrooms to state the case for Social Media Marketing and the role of influencers, I have leant that as long as a client can see what and how they are benefitting, they are most likely going to buy into the idea, unless they have a 72-year-old manager named JohnBosco who absolutely dislikes anything related to Social Media he will do everything in his power to sabotage it.


If as an influencer someone is asking you to give justification for whatever pricings you have come up with, it makes sense for you to actually sit down and offer logical reason for the pricing. This has been lacking quite a lot and many influencers end up either being paid peanuts, being overworked or completely losing out on otherwise lucrative deals simply because they are unable to explain why they should be paid what they are asking to be paid.

And it is not really rocket science if you come to think of it. How much value do you attach to the work you plan to do? What is the backing for this value? Is it the numbers you have? Is it the engagement you will inspire? Is it your ability to personalise the brand? Is it your ability to always zero the conversation back to the client? Is it your ability to say 100 things about the client everyday and thus give them traction? Will you give the client a report every end of the month? How many client activations will you attend in say a one month period? Will you do some fire fighting in case the client’s campaign goes south?

Where do you think your value lies? Identify it and elaborately quantify it. Give some examples of previous work and how clients benefitted. There are 1000 things you can put down to help you arrive at a suitable figure that the client will look at and nod to, no matter how high it may be.

Of course as influencers, we are constantly frustrated by the fact that Companies still spend shitloads of money on PR, Newspaper Ads, TV Ads, Radio Ads many of which do not necessarily have any direct or tangible ROI. Why then should they question Digital and Social Media Budgets with much more gusto than they do the rest yet Social Media even offfers real time statistics and analytics? In stead of spending millions of shillings on a Newspaper Ad which will be relegated to the Rubbish bin the very next day, why not use even half that budget to create a worthwhile conversation online that will last longer and generate trackable and direct response?

And NO – I am not trying to start a war with the Traditional Media channels. I am simply saying that Digital and Social Media can offer a worthwhile supplement to the well established traditional channels but as soldiers of the Digital and Social Media army, we first need to get our shit together.

Real influencers do not sway our decisions because of how high they score on a digital scale. They do because they make their stories relevant to us – Cendrine Marrouat

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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