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Picture: 123RF/ammentorp
Picture: 123RF/ammentorp

Savvy digital agencies have moved from an exclusively traditional marketing spend and an intense focus on award-winning campaigns to include authentic ambassadorial roles that have consumer relevance.  

According to Danilo Acquisto, CEO and co-founder of Special Effects Media, the appeal of influencer marketing for brands is that it helps to build trust, invites honest feedback from consumers and drives most sections of the marketing funnel.

Acquisto recommends that brands should look at YouTube, which is both a social media platform and a search engine second only to Google.

“Almost a third of all internet users in SA use YouTube. In January 2021, Google reported a potential audience reach of 24-million for YouTube adverts in this country, while Facebook reported a 5.40-million potential audience for Instagram ads. This shows the size of the YouTube market as well as its enormous potential for growth. Brands wanting to include a long-term YouTube strategy into their marketing plans should look carefully for the right fit of influencers who understand their businesses, goals and consumers,” says Acquisto.

Influencer marketing agency Takumi reports that 27% of consumers say YouTube influencers led them to a purchase, with Instagram following at 25% and TikTok at 15%.

“Data reveals that trust is earned over time and that consumers will trust the recommendation of an influencer even over that of their friends. Influencers have powerful para-social relationships with their audiences,” says Acquisto.

Understanding the power of authenticity that goes with influencer marketing means that more established brands need to unlearn much of what they already know. “[The focus on] authenticity negates many of the [strategies based on] marketing legacies that try to micro-manage outcomes. That is why finding the right brand and influencer fit is critical. Brands should consider the demographic of an influencer’s followers as well as their creativity and track record for engagement,” he says.

To grow the influencer industry and creator economy in SA, Special Effects Media has introduced a 12-month Female Voices Development Programme to amplify some of SA’s up-and-coming female digital voices and assist them in achieving their goals of becoming digital entrepreneurs. Acquisto says among the participants on the programme are a few rising female voices who are building excellent audiences and are worth keeping an eye on in 2022. They can include Nuzhah Jacobs, Tshego Paledi, Naledi Mallela, Khanyisa Mongo and Simbongile Makanda.

Acquisto recommends that when keeping an eye out for female creators, brands should look for those who have social media integrity, but they should also be prepared for feedback and for handling criticism.

The big take-out:

Influencer marketing helps to build trust, invites honest feedback from consumers and drives most sections of the marketing funnel.

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