/ 30 January 2024

How to monetise your influence: Mastering the art and science of content creation for success

Sibu Mabena Image
Sibu Mabena, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Duma Collective, at the Momentum Science of Success Festival.

Audience members at the Momentum Science of Success Festival learnt how to become successful influencers

The surge in the influence wielded by social media personalities has become increasingly apparent with the expansion of digital platforms. This phenomenon has solidified the capacity of influencers to shape the perspectives, actions, and, significantly, the purchasing decisions of their followers. Despite this exponential growth, the pursuit of being a monetarily successful content creator remains an elusive goal for many aspiring individuals.

The value of influencer marketing was a staggering $16.4 billion in 2022, and Sibu Mabena, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Duma Collective, an event production and sponsorship acquisition agency, shared with audiences at the Momentum Science of Success Festival held in Johannesburg recently how they could become successful influencers and make a few extra bucks along the way.

Defined as an online persona or brand, an influencer needs first and foremost to stand for something. “Go on a journey of self-discovery,” advised Mabena. “Find what you like and what you want to be known for.”

Appealing to would-be side hustlers, small business owners, SMMEs and entrepreneurs, the Science Of Success Festival was a day of inspirational presentations and master classes on growing wealth in a variety of ways. Becoming a social media influencer has proved to be extremely lucrative, whether you are a celebrity or a previously unknown personality who has carved out a niche for themselves promoting sponsors’ products and services.

According to Momentum and UNISA’s SMME and Side Hustle Insights Report, the top five needs of small businesses are continuous learning, marketing strategies, funding or access to capital, expansion opportunities and access to market and clients. Mabena’s masterclass on How to be a Money Making Influencer definitely delivered on the first two, along with invaluable tips on how to identify, appeal and pitch to one’s market. Mabena’s toolkit for influencers provided all the food for thought and information needed for anyone in the audience to launch their online careers.

How many followers does an influencer need?

Influencers are tiered as:

  • Nano, with one to 10 000 followers
  • Micro, with 10 000 to 100 000 followers
  • Macro, with 100 000 to one million followers, and
  • Mega, with one million + followers.

These are measured by the amount of engagement and not simply the number of followers they have, with as few as 1 000 potentially qualifying to represent a brand.

Know your audience

Knowing your target audience, demographics and most appropriate platform to reach them is essential when establishing yourself as a social media influencer, as well as being able to provide analytics from each platform:

  • WhatsApp is the most used social media platform at 93% usage
  • Facebook has 83%
  • Instagram at 70.5% is where you get to know your audience and create a community
  • For stories and paid promotions, TikTok has 60.3%.

Don’t be pressured into becoming a Tik-Toker if you’re not comfortable with this medium.

X is a place simply to “post and go” and is more conversational than visual.

“Being an influencer is a business,” says Mabena, “requiring as much thought as any other.”

What do you need to portray and convey as an influencer?

  • Being authentic, representing values to which followers can relate will solidify your position as a brand representative with a product whose values align with your own.
  • Keep your bio short, but tell your story.
  • Use your real name in there somewhere, not just your social media handle.
  • Don’t be afraid to use emojis.
  • Have a call to action and a link to your website

The pitch

Most brands prefer you to have a business rather than personal account profile, and make sure you have a professional email address. Research the brand you are pitching to and ensure that what you represent aligns with their messaging. Make sure your pitch is flawless and has no typos or spelling mistakes.

Set your rates and be realistic about expected engagement levels, impressions, click throughs and ultimate conversion rates, which will give the client the maximum return on their investment (ROI).

Becoming a money-making influencer is within the realm of possibility for anyone who puts in the effort, creates a credible biography and brand identity of their own, quality content with excellent visuals and who can prepare a professional pitch or proposal. 

“Success is a science for which there is a formula when it comes to social media influencers,” concluded Mabena.