What does it mean to be a social media influencer in Nigeria?

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
What does it mean to be a social media influencer in Nigeria?

Yinka Owate splashed red lipstick across her lips. Her matching red wig was hastily done. Then she threw some jewellery in her bag and dashed out to start another long day.

First, she had to run to Pulse’s physical office, where she holds a full-time job managing their TikTok account. Then she needed to steal some time from her day to meet up with other TikTok influencers and record skits for her personal TikTok account with over 200,000 followers. Hours later, she will be at an event somewhere in VI where she will interview guests (celebrities if she’s lucky) for Pulse’s Instagram page.

“People can build sustainable careers as influencers,” she tells Technext in a recent interview, after weeks of rescheduling to meet her demanding work life.

“But it will take a while because to actually get to that point, one has to create a lot of content; skit, lipsyncing videos, things that are creative in general.”

The process

At their peak, perched in hotels and restaurants they could barely afford out of pocket, they dominated the continent.

Nigerian influencers were the bellwethers of a burgeoning African metropolis. They took photos at the fanciest locations, from Lagos to Marakesh as the backdrop. They went on boat rides. They took selfies with Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. They were featured in the pages of Vogue. CNN has profiled them.

But, the work that goes into the process years later is still very tedious — jumping on challenges, hours spent taking and editing photos and videos, hoping the engagement is good enough for brands — for the chance to hawk everything from skincare products to Smirnoff Ice on social media.

“There are times when you create really good content that you know is creative, but it might not get the reach that you want,” Owate said.

“Being an influencer is a very tasking job. It’s hard. It’s fun. It’s also stressful,” Amenawo, who runs AmenTv with more than 100,000 followers told Technext.

“Being an influencer is really not easy. You make money, you meet celebrities, but you also have the downside, SheIsPrincess who has almost a million followers on TikTok said. “People can start dropping hate comments on your post. Some people can just start dragging you for no reason,” she added.


Reply to @tnairadonniehenry April 27😂❤️ #sheisprincess #viral #teamsam🔥

♬ original sound – Ini_cash

You have to build a great following and that great following would indeed be your audience base…To grow this, you have to use great content to attract and keep them interested. An Interested audience is a willing and engaging audience.

TweetOracle, a Twitter influencer who has been on the app since 2010.

The debate has raged for years about whether or not one can build sustainable careers fully as an influencer. For TweetOracle, who started his digital media company, AuraCool Digital Media, after years spent as an influencer, believes that anyone can build a career with influencer marketing; the key is sustainability.

What does it mean to be a social media influencer in Nigeria?
Tweetoracle speaks on what it means to be an influencer in Nigeria

“One doesn’t become an Influencer by accident,” TweetOracle said. “It takes years of consistent building to achieve that social credibility and nous, great followership and acceptability if not believability. If you are able to put in all that work in, yes you can sustain it over a long period of time,” TweetOracle said.

Is influencing sustainable?

Over the years and with the rise of TikTok, catering to an even younger audience, from MAC Cosmetics to Budweiser, global brands have come into Nigeria, attracted by the boom of influencers to sell their product. This has catapulted the number of influencers to astronomical heights.

A 2019 survey discovered that 86 per cent of millennials want to be influencers. It is easy, looking from the outside, to conclude that profits in the industry are dwindling with this surge in influencers. On this, Owate says that there is more than enough to go round.

It’s an opportunity for everyone to showcase their talent. A particular influencer cannot be available for 10,000 brands.

Yinka Owate

Aside from cash that comes in from the promotion of brands on their pages, with TikTok challenges becoming increasingly popular, musicians looking to go viral bank on influencers, paying them to join their challenge, creating a steady flow of cash for these influencers.

“Influencer Marketing cannot be phased out,” TweetOracle said. “It’s a niche on its own and one that will continue to grow and evolve as marketing trends evolve across the world. Influencers and content creators keep discovering newer and more dynamic ways to engage across social media platforms. That will always be attractive to brands looking to engage an already engaged audience.”

“Influencer marketing is growing,” SheIsPrincess said.

If influencing is a sustainable career and the industry will acclimatise to accommodate modern trends, then why are influencers juggling multiple jobs?

“I don’t think one job can work at all in any industry. No matter how successful you are, you need to have other sources of income,” Owate said.

TikTok influencer Yinka Owate has more than 200,ooo followers. Photo source: Instagram

Is there a number?

Besides celebrities and professional digital marketers, we cannot pin a number and argue that we know how many Nigerians are professional influencers. But, we know that on platforms like Twitter, followership of 10,000 and above ‘qualifies’ one to be an influencer – banter or not. The same principle applies to Instagram. However, influencing is beyond just small numbers.

For brand patronage, a 2019 report says “Multinational brands are planning to increase their spending on influencer marketing in the next 12 months, with 65% aiming to spend more, according to new research from the WFA.

“The goal of such investment is primarily to boost brand awareness (86%) but influencers are also used to reach targeted/new audiences (74%) and to improve brand advocacy (69%).

“However, despite their willingness to invest more, marketers will only do so where standards on transparency are met. Credibility, reputation, and quality of followers are at the top of their selection list when they decide who to work with. The top criteria for multinational brands were quality of followers, cited as “absolutely essential” or “very important” by 96% of respondents. Similarly, the credibility and reputation of the influencer were also critical for the vast majority, scoring 93% on the same measure.”

The conversation rate (acquisition of prospects) is usually placed at 3.5%, as Nigerians are mostly convinced by the kind of storytelling that is compelling and has the range to trend on social media platforms.

How much do influencers earn?

To a large part, the earnings of the average influencer are still very nebulous. Depending on the brand and what they are promoting, an influencer can earn as much as a million naira per post, to as low as 30,000 per post. Brands also tend not to have equal pay per for all influencers even if they are in the same campaign, doing the same job.

Amenawo said that he has observed that Instagram influencers are rated higher than TikTok influencers, like himself, making them earn more.

“As an influencer in Lagos, people will rate Instagram influencers more than TikTok without them knowing there are lots of adults on TikTok,”


Toke Makinwa, who has dominated the industry for years running, has advised younger influencers to have a standard pay for all jobs. That will make brands know what to approach them with.

Big brands like Toke Makinwa and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, according to a 2019 report by a media company, Dott Media House, rake in as much as a million naira per post.

According to Hit Ng, influencers with 10,000 followers earn between ₦30,000 to ₦80,000 on sponsored posts. While influencers with higher following earn up to ₦800,000 per post depending on the number of views.

For music integration posts, they earn between 50,000 to 80,000 for influencers with an average following; between 50,000 to 200,000 followers.

Are regulations needed?

Like most of the tech space, the influencing industry has still remained largely unregulated. The lack of regulations in the space has made it easy for scammers to infiltrate the space. Influencers have had to apologise to followers who lost money, trading with scam companies that they had not verified before posting sponsored content about them on their platforms. Some influencers to build and retain trust, go to lengths, doing background checks on the companies they want to promote, to be sure it’s registered and their product is authentic.

For instance, If the space was regulated influencers will not need to do this extra work. A regulated body will control who influencers put on their platform, especially when it’s a brand that involves followers buying a product 0r making an investment.

TweetOracle is all for regulations to help curb scammers and create standards in the space.

“Influencers can do better in the way and manner they execute their jobs. This can also extend to the nature of companies they promote,” TweetOracle said. “If there are sanctions in place for Influencers who promote scam companies, this could serve as a deterrent to others intending to do same and thus help curb that dangerous trend.”

Owate sees the regulation from another angle.

“Regulations are needed around influencing because some are either still in school, and they don’t know so much; how to use their email or set up meetings…They don’t pay attention to the rules that the brands give to them. They won’t take contracts seriously.” All of these issues go on to rub off on the entire influencing industry, scaring prospective clients.

“Professional trainings are essential for these influencers,” Owate said.

Hear us out

Even as the task of being an influencer remains daunting years after their rise to social prominence, there are still so many breakthroughs that can be achieved as they spread their tentacles across all social media platforms.

As TweetOracle put it, “there are lots of opportunities yet to be tapped and it’s going to be interesting to see how the next couple of years turn out.”

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