Where businesses go wrong on influencers

Influencer recording a makeup tutorial for her blog at home [Courtesy]

It’s not only phone calls that reveal Kenyans’ peculiar habits as Safaricom chairperson Michael Joseph once noted. 

It is also how they shop.

While there are businesses that have perfected the art of advertising, there are others - especially the new ones - that could be getting it wrong by using influencers.

It’s not that advertising through influencers doesn’t work, but, is that influencer the right ‘brand ambassador’ for your product or service?

Enterprise helps you explore the impact of influencers and how to determine the right ones for your business. 

Does the influence of that influencer match the product or service?

During the recently held 2021 E-Commerce Awards, business owners also weighed in on the influencer matter.

Does the influence of that influencer match the product or service? Or are you simply wasting money to quench the thirst of pushing your product or magnifying the image of your young company?

From the event, two justifications emerged: use influencers only if their following matches the target audience of your product or service and their use has to be converted to sales.

Mansoor Jiwani, Group chief executive officer Go Places explained that just one’s huge following on social media is not enough justification for them to be an influencer of a particular brand.

“If you are bringing an influencer, ensure you know who your audience is,” he said. “For example, if you have an influencer with 500,000 followers and you are selling vehicles, why would you use them (influencer) when 95 percent of their following do not even have a driver’s license?”

Jiwani argued that there are other ways of marketing that one can measure how their product or service is being received. Such is through reputation marketing.

This is the promotion, monitoring, and acquisition of positive brand content by assessing reviews, social media, and word of mouth feedback as defined by

This is the same thing influencers do.

“When you sell a product or service, get feedback. It is important. Did your client get satisfied?” he posed. “Use the positive feedback to market yourself and the negative to improve.”

The issue of using influencers seems to not only be a headache to businesses that want to be known so badly but also public relations and advertising experts.

Are influencers’ value for money?

The argument is; just because your tweet or photo attracts 100,000 retweets or a similar number of likes, does it almost mean those numbers can be converted into sales?

Yet the number of followers is the ranking that is used to determine the influentially of an influencer.

Tanasha Donna, a Kenyan singer is considered the most influential influencer as per 2021 ranking of top 1,000 influencers with 3.2 million followers. She is followed by Eric Omondi (2.9 million), Bahati (2.4 million), Betty Kyallo (2.4 million) and Akothee (2.4 million).

But it is Azziad Nasenya’s rate card that caused an uproar considering she is relatively new to the scene having become famous with a simulation dance video of Mejja and Femi One’s song ‘Utawezana’ that is loosely translated to ‘can you handle it’.

The rate card indicated that for a business to use her services, one must be ready to cough up Sh100,000 for a Tiktok video and Sh50,000 if the video will be live.

On Facebook, she charges Sh100,000 per post and Sh50,000 for a live video. Her charges go up to Sh250,000 if she is contracted for longer periods.

So, do influencers have any influence?

A 2020 Geopoll survey suggests they do.

“On average, an impressive 69 and 55 percent (of respondents) in Kenya and Nigeria respectively said they have been directly influenced to make purchase decisions by influencers’ recommendations,” reads the survey.

“A further 32 per cent said influencer reviews had contributed to their purchase decisions to some extent,” it adds.

But some experts in public relations and marketing beg to differ.

“Micro and Nano Influencers are more impactful and goal-driven than macro,” tweeted Ahmad @ahmedsalims on July 19, 2021, eliciting mixed reactions from players in the circles.

“I am micro. And I have maintained I am not even an influencer. I do not even want to be,” Lord Abraham Mutai, a blogger, replied.

A nano-influencer, compared to a macro or mega influencer, has fewer followers –less than 10,000 – as defined by

“I’ve had campaigns where we signed up 100 micro-influencers and it did wonders. Let me remind you the trick of the organic algorithm,” added Ahmad.

According to Bob Oyier, whose long Facebook post on the issue has been virally shared in the circles of influencers, nano influencers who in the typical Kenyan context have less than 2,000 followers and micro-influencers with less than 50,000 are more impactful.

“Kenyan corporates don’t know anything about micro-influencing and nano-influencing and it is so sad you wonder what they pay their marketing departments to do,” he ranted. ”If you are looking to drive real sales, you should look for specialist influencers. That is people who are considered by their following an expert in that field.”

He adds there is a big difference between someone who is an influencer and one who has a huge following.

Oyier gives examples of Akothee and Frankie Just Gym It as some of the influencers to go for as a business. For Frankie Gym It, he says despite having just 100,000 followers, he is arguably known in the fitness circles.

“The only popular celeb worth Sh1 million quote in Kenya is Akothee because woman go all in for the brands she endorses. She stops at nothing to give value for your money. You will get both sales and following,” he said.

Kenneth Oyolla, Jumia Chief Commercial Officer agrees with Safaricom’s Joseph that Kenyans indeed are peculiar. Though he is knowledgeable on matters consumers and marketing, he says there is a lot of learning that even Jumia is doing.   

“It is an area that we are very hungry about. If you ask me category decision tree for any category I will be able to tell you if it’s laundry, this is how consumers shop because that is how we were trained,” he said during the E-Commerce awards.

“But now come online, I think there are some transferable skills and some that you try to understand which Jumia is doing,” he added.

Oyolla, who started his career as a brand manager, said there is a whole school of thought on consumer behaviour. He said even Jumia is in the early stages of understanding this.

He said the desire is for the e-commerce market to grow in the country to the levels of China where one can tell how many sales are being made from live streams done by influencers and content creators.

“For us in Jumia today, if an influencer is pushing something on our platform, we are able to tell how much that they are pushing … so it is not just about my followers,” he said. “Today we are seeing quite a number of brands doing campaigns and bringing alongside a number of influencers to work. I am able to tell which influencer is pushing the most so there is less of hogwash and the internet is able to bring a lot of data.”

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