Election 2022: How social influencers made a killing

Twitter influencer and rapper Boniface 'Kilundeezy' Makuthi. [Courtesy, Instagram]

Social media influencers made a killing during campaigns in the run up to the elections.

Twitter influencer and rapper Boniface Makuthi, also known by his stage name Kilundeezy, reveals just how lucrative influencing gigs paid.

Kilundeezy, who boasts 43,000 followers on Twitter, says he made Sh4,500 a day to push political tags. He has also worked for local and international brands and corporations.

“I did more than 50 political gigs during the entire campaign period. I made Sh4,500 a day. On good days, I would make more. Some politicians paid us weekly but most paid daily,” said Kilundeezy.

The rapper said the gigs involved pushing clips, photos, hashtags, keywords and narratives that praised politicians and their manifestos. He turned down any clients who wanted to attack their rivals.

“None of my gigs was about condemning other politicians and their ideologies. Our activities were exclusively for praising politicians without mudslinging their competitors,” he said.

Raymond Situma, a student at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, notes that influence is a big and competitive industry.

According to Situma, the gigs are not just about one’s followers but also about connections and analytics.

Social media influencers made a killing during campaigns in the run up to the elections. [iStockphoto]

“To be an influencer is a sum total of establishing connections, a good number of followers and good analytics on your social media accounts. Connections will link you directly to brands and people who offer lucrative jobs,” said Situma.

The 22-year-old spoken-word artiste has more than 100,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“If you have more than 20,000 followers, brands will come looking for you. Also your analytics should be reading above one million insights,” he said.

Influencers rely on these data to best understand their audience. They start by analysing their follower base to get insights into their demographics and interests. It is from this information that they are able to build a loyal follower and curate engaging content.

Kenya had an internet penetration of 42 per cent with 23.35 million internet users as at January this year. Kepios analysis indicates that these numbers will continue rising each year.

According to Watoro Kamau, a political commentator, social media influencers played a major role in the presidential elections.

“Influencers drew the attention of many Kenyans to the political campaigns of leading presidential contenders William Ruto and Raila Odinga. They swayed the opinion of many social media consumers,” Mr Kamau noted.

Kamau opines that in the past, the influencers appeared as experts for topics like fashion, sports, or gaming and used their status to cooperate with the brand for markerting purposes.

Influencers rely on these data to best understand their audience. [iStockphoto]

“However, influencers have turned towards more meaningful and political content,” he says, adding that due to their huge audiences, they are now being considered as opinion leaders.

“In our society, opinion leaders are characterised as people who interact with traditional mass media, deal with current issues, reprocess the information and pass them over to other members of their personal networks,” he states.

“Although not study has been done to assess their impact in the elections, influencers played a key role in the campaigns,” he adds.

Nakuru West MP-elect Samuel Arama says he had a team of bloggers and you-tubers who helped him in reaching out to younger voters, whose main source of information is social media.

“There are certain messages that you cannot take to political rallies but can effectively be covered by the influencers to produce meaningful impact among the young people,” says Mr Arama.

He says some political influencers were good in delivering messages on topics such as plastic-free living and conscious consumption.