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Mbabane – Ever since the dawn of Pop culture, the notion of brand influencers rose but local talent was overlooked up until now.

Influencers have emerged in the new age of social media by offering an alternative to the traditional, celebrity endorsement and marketing model deals. Brands opt for the most influential person on the market currently; who is  pushing  his/her brand, and turn them into the face of whatever they are working on. Brands like Standard Bank, FNB, Castle Lager Eswatini, Castle Lite and Sibebe have kept the ball rolling for close to a year, selecting and actually working with a considerable  number of influential people in the kingdom.  A brand like Sibebe which is a locally crafted beer company has been one stable that has always been on the lookout to support and uplift initiatives and individuals in the country. From issues of gender based violence to empowering women activists like Anele Shabangu to becoming their brand ambassador.

“Growing with us means sharing your dreams with us to encourage others, and how you thrive for more,” wrote Sibebe  on their post announcing Shabangu as their brand influencer. “We celebrate you, Anele. Cheers! She’s also the brand influencer for Lillets’’. When reached for comment, Shabangu said: “I can say that I was. chosen for the good work in the community, which I really appreciate”  Her success is an example of how influencers are constantly on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, and are often the ones leading the conversations. A couple of decades ago, a company would launch a huge TV campaign to attract trendsetters; but now can go straight to the source and plug it’s well-established and hyper-targeted audiences on social media.


In a matter of a year, the country has seen Anele Shabangu, Supa CDQ, Sifiso Nxumalo, Taribo Bhembe and Dr Shakes attract the recognition from renowned brands. The common fact, and also the main reason these influencers are hired, is the reach they have digitally. Most of these influencers shared similar sentiments of appreciation and gratitude for the direction that the industry firmly taken.Younger generations, particularly Generation Z, which is the current generation have been drawn to relatable social media personalities who speak to them in a way the average A-lister does not. By cornering one market, be it food, make-up, fashion, or gaming, influencers build trust with their followers by becoming experts in their fields and communicating with their fans daily. For example, the above  mentioned personalities have a considerable following from Anele Shabangu at over 9 000 followers, Dr Shakes at over 8 000 and Supa CDQ just 4 000 and that is on Instagram alone.

Speaking to media personality  model and Sibebe brand influencer since two months ago, Sifiso Nxumalo shared how the change in the market and brand’s appreciation for brand influencers was very overwhelming but necessary, especially for the kingdom. He also went on to say he would personally like to thank corporates like Standard Bank, who were relatively the first in the country to shine the light on  people who put in the right muscle in their work. “All I can say for sure is that the time for us and brands to merge with other brands was much needed. Sibebe saw my reach and sorts because I   am a brand .They saw a partnership that would work to push sales and elevate their marketing,” explained Nxumalo.  This was something that was long overdue in the eyes of many influential people in the kingdom as in neighbouring countries, the culture of having the face of a brand was a long working regime, even with individuals who were considered to be upcomers. 

Dr Shakes, who is considered one of  Eswatini’s top comedians, was also announced as a brand influencer for Sibebe Premium Lager less two months ago. “Firstly this is a great step and it is the right time for what is happening. Local brands are really pushing and they are pushing with the talent on the ground. Unlike ancient times, we never even knew the faces that these brands used, but now its people who are pushing, known and also relatable to the users who are scouting for new trends, also products on the market,” confidently expressed Dr Shakes.  The trust and reliability of an influencer is absolutely fundamental to their brand. After years of blogging and building up a reputation, influencers with huge followings can direct millions of people towards buying a product, making it a success or a failure overnight.

The downside of it

Lest we forget, when TV reality star, makeup mogul and celebrity influencer Kylie Jenner, tweeted that she hated the new Snapchat interface back in 2018, the company saw its shares on the stock market plummet drastically.   Another incidence is when few influencers were paid a small fortune to promote a music festival on a remote Caribbean island, which ended up being one of the biggest scams in history. Influencers are able to build an amazing rapport with their supporters because they become experts in specific fields which appeal to a hyper-targeted audience. They are trusted by their millions of followers who look to them for inspiration, whether in fashion, skincare, gaming, or more. In the wrong hands and with enough money, however, the power of influencers can be dangerous for both brands and consumers. How to become a brand influencer? Now that we know that brands are watching, it’s also relevant to know what the brands are looking for and how this is lucrative for the influencer’s pockets especially putting in comparison to South Africa.

YouTube has become a successful social media platform that allows users to view, upload and share audio-visual content. It has also become a lucrative money-generating platform that has established the careers of many content producers, social commentators, and lifestyle and beauty enthusiasts. Professional You Tubers have already made a name for themselves in much of the developed world. Now, the rest of the world is catching up, and best example  where in Africa influencers have become popular is South Africa (SA). Professional YouTuber and social media influencer Mihlali Ndamase, (22), has a total of 6.1 million views. She has a subscriber base of over 107 000 people who keep up with her lifestyle and beauty videos.

Her make-up tutorials and fashion vlogs have allowed her to collaborate with beauty brands such as Bobbi Brown, Essence Cosmetics and NYX Professional Make-up, who have sponsored her videos. Since she started making videos in 2016; she has also collaborated on social media campaigns with major brands like MAC Cosmetics, Vodacom, Nedbank and Telkom. This was almost five years ago, and the country had not even anticipated that its digital relevance would be on this level.  “When one starts a YouTube channel, they should monetise their content by creating an AdSense account, which will be linked to their channel. That way Google can pay them for the content they put out.” said Ndamase.

On the sustainability of being a YouTuber, Ndamase said adapting to the new and ever-changing offerings on the platform, and keeping up with viewers’ changing interests will allow one to stay relevant. First, YouTube channels can be monetised even if they don’t have millions of subscribers. Your earning potential isn’t determined solely by the number of subscribers and views you have, but also by the level of engagement you generate, the niche you cater to, and the revenue channels you explore.

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