The Impact of Influencer Marketing in South Africa

Social media has reached most parts of the globe and people are glued to their screens to get information or seek entertainment of all kinds. Social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc have captured the imagination of people and have helped people to connect with each other like never before.


Social media has reached most parts of the globe and people are glued to their screens to get information or seek entertainment of all kinds. Social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc have captured the imagination of people and have helped people to connect with each other like never before. This has led to the rise of a new trend in marketing known as influencer marketing. It is a rapidly growing marketing activity and a media channel that is spreading across the globe.

Most people check their social media feeds daily and this is leading to marketers using social media to promote their products and services. Several top brands were quick to realize the phenomenal power of this new marketing channel and are hence including influencer marketing as a major part of their marketing strategy.

Today, the easy availability of internet, smartphones and social media platforms have given consumers the freedom to choose any content from across the world with just a tap on their mobile screens or a click on their laptop/computer mouse.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The digital age is upon us and its rise has given an opportunity to companies to speak directly with their target market using advanced marketing strategies. This has led to the boom in the current hot trend of influencer marketing which is a new and promising way that brands are adopting to increase their revenues.

The relationship between an influencer and their followers are used by a brand to promote the brand’s services and products through multiple channels and social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. Some people assume that influencer marketing is a way for companies to throw money at some random influencer, but that is not the case.

Companies and brands are smart enough and have the technological tools to do their research before finalizing the influencers. They would always analyze the return on investment before choosing the right influencer for their brand and business.

How Digital Marketers incorporate Influencer Marketing Strategy?

Influencer marketing is certainly not a new phenomenon in the field of digital marketing. Digital marketers are still trying hard to understand, plan, strategise and execute the influencer marketing campaigns successfully. For example; a popular makeup artist having a successful channel on youtube may be asked to do advertising for beauty products.

Sometimes influencers may not have the necessary experience to market a particular product. But in this case, the brand may depend on the loyalty and trust that the influencer has among its followers.

Some of the popular influencer categories that are highly in demand on social media include beauticians, photographers, chefs, travel bloggers, musicians, singers, stylists, etc. These influencers work independently and create relevant content incorporating the specific requirements of the sponsoring organisation within the content. They look at ways to convey the brand's message with originality, to reach a specific target audience.

Monetary Value of Influencer Marketing

The Monetary value of an influencer is usually calculated by the types of social platforms that are being used and the size of their following. Some experts may quote 500USD for a 50K followers and the price usually depends on how relevant the influencer may be in that particular niche. Today the consumer has the freedom to choose from a plethora of entertainment options providing a myriad of interesting global content.

The benefits of influencer marketing have been well documented in countries like the USA. According to some studies, it showed that companies earned about 6.50USD for each dollar they spent on influencer marketing. The top 135 earn more than 20 USD or even more.

Difference between Celebrity endorsement and Influencers

In celebrity endorsement, a known celebrity endorses a particular brand in the geographic locations where they are popular and relevant. But on the other hand, influencers are usually trusted people within a niche community that maintain a loyal following. They are more aware of their followers and may have experience of the brands and products they are promoting.

Influencer Marketing Trends in South Africa

The trend of influencer marketing has been growing rapidly in South Africa since the last few years. Young people in Africa between the age group of 18-35 years have said that their purchase decisions have been largely influenced by influencers on social media. The year 2020 has brought lots of surprises and challenges in the global community. The digital revolution has brought in various changes in the business environment and trends like online shopping in South Africa has seen rapid growth and innovation. The digital world had taken centre stage due to the Covid19 pandemic situation.

Most people in the digital world would have dabbled in at least one form of influencer marketing or the other. They would have inevitably reached one of the two conclusions. Either it works or doesn't! But influencer marketing does continue to be hugely effective in South Africa due to several reasons.

Several companies around the world and in South Africa have realised the importance and value of using technology and other means to implement contemporary marketing strategies that suit the current environment. Influencer marketing is relatively a new concept in South Africa compared to the mature markets like the US, UK and Europe. But it has grown tremendously over the past few years as companies began to realise its value and potential.

In the last five years, several influencer marketing platforms and agencies have come and gone and some were more successful than the others. During this period South Africa had experienced a mega boom in internet culture which has magnified the scope and demand for many influencers from niche players, entertainers, local celebrities to models and even some homemakers.

Most of the young people in South Africa are digitally connected to social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube and Tik-Tok. A majority of the big brands are turning to social media to get conversations about their products going and to create some hype in the market. According to a study done by a data-driven market platform; Instagram alone has around 1,52,781 South African influencers while Twitter has about 69,488 influencers in South Africa. Some of the most common influencers categories on Instagram include lifestyle, fitness and fashion.

The marketers and the brands agree that customer engagement is important and it is the PKI (primary key performance indicator). Hence marketers are looking for potential Influencers and brand ambassadors who have a higher level of engagement than the number of followers they have.

The Marketing research company Humanz defines influencers according to the following criteria.

  • 1,000 – 4,999 followers = Nano-influencer
  • 5,000 – 49,999 followers = Micro-influencer
  • 50,000 – 249,999 followers = B-lister
  • 250,000 – 1 million followers = A-lister
  • Over a million followers = Superstar

A majority of influencers in South Africa fall into the category of nano-influencers. The country has about 1,38,470 nano-influencers on Instagram and about 59,107 on Twitter. The superstar influencers are the rarest type with only 63 on Instagram and 53 on Twitter.


Influencer marketing can have a positive impact on SEO and help companies to grow their brand and improve sales. While South African brands have regularly used celebrities as influencers, research shows that local influencers are readily available and have higher customer engagement percentages. Influencer marketing has proven to be a worthwhile investment option for businesses in South Africa and has also given the brands an opportunity to target their audiences directly. Influencer marketing helps to build customer trust since most customers are becoming sceptical about the traditional form of marketing these days.

Author Bio

Mohd Shees has been specializing in content development since 2005. He currently works as the content development manager at Ubuy Technologies, a leading online shopping store in South Africa. He loves to write articles about different topics to share his thoughts, ideas & knowledge with the world.


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