It is hard to imagine a social media campaign today without influencers. They have become an integral part of the social media marketing ecosystem. Influencers are now an extension of a company’s marketing department, giving life to brands, redefining word of mouth, the way we consume brand messages and determining what goes viral or becomes trending. This would be the situation in a digital marketing utopia, but as you might have guessed, there is no such thing.
Much as the number of influencers is growing, their role in Uganda, at least from my point of view is limited to echoing brand messages and making hashtags trend. The mighty influencers are being turned into glorified announcers and not the love creating, conversion engines they were made out to be when the term was coined.
Like radio ads, many influencer posts have become an intrusion on our timelines. They are announcements for companies you can’t wait to go past. Not to generalize though, the work of some influencers is commendable. A lot of it gets overlooked unless it is a scandal or breaking news which we cannot wait to get during the prime new bulletin.
If I attempt to trace the cause of this conundrum, the lack of regulation, unclear influencer job descriptions and a lack of creativity from marketers would be top of the list. It would seem today, that an influencer’s efficiency is mostly measured by how high a hashtag trending or how many impressions they collect over the campaign period. This is not bad if that was the goal of the campaign but besides beating the Twitter trending algorithm to rank higher, creativity of the influencers is constrained and their full potential is never really reached. This leaves us with predictable campaigns and executions.
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There is a need to change this trend of events for the sake of influencing as job which is a good employer for the youth, as well as the digital marketing Eco-system which is still developing.
It is one thing to point out and rant about the problem, it is another to do something about it. This is where a new conversation needs to begin including Marketers, influencers and the consumers of digital marketing communications. Relevant questions need to be asked, for instance, Is the current role of influencers bringing a return on investment? Are there other roles influences can play to increase their relevance and importance? Who is to blame for the textbook influencer executions in a marketing segment as dynamic as digital?