Influencers: the people that shape your social media activity
Have you ever wondered why some individuals on social media go out of the way to provide you with the latest news update, gossip, live feeds, or even humour? Like a charm, they, oftentimes, get you hooked to their Twitter handles and Facebook pages.
Well, some do it for passion but there is a significant number who discreetly feed you information to raise awareness of campaigns they have no interest in. Welcome to the social media world of influencers. The Observer looks at some of the popular media influencers (in no particular order of popularity) who have worked on some popular brands.
These individuals command a legion of followers on social media; they comment on anything topical but most importantly, many are paid to be active and influence the way you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and, to a some extent, WhatsApp.
To some, this is a business and digital experts estimate it has grown into a multimillion shilling industry so much so that President Museveni’s recent order to tax social media may start with these influencers.
Imagine to be paid as much as Shs 200,000 for just one tweet about a launch of a new product; or charging a fixed rate to advertise a promotional event. These few ladies and gentlemen in this trade often call the shots in this sophisticated way of advertising or creating brand awareness.
To understand this trend, you have to know how digitally-assertive companies work. For instance, when Coca-Cola decided to bring the 2018 football World Cup trophy from South Africa to Uganda in March this year, they needed to create a lot of buzz around it.
Coca-Cola, who are the official sponsors of the tournament, did not call on the usual suspects – the press – to drum up the vibe but a team of players in a rapidly growing industry called social media influencers.
The beverage company arranged an all-expense-paid round trip for the influencers, all the way from Entebbe to Cape Town – where the influencers worked their Twitter handles with all sorts of brand awareness tweets and Facebook posts.
Social media influencers are tech enthusiasts who, with a single tweet can easily change the perception about a brand, are disrupting the media space by dragging corporate revenues away from the traditional media houses.
When it comes to their advertising spend, more companies are increasingly looking at digital platforms and social media influencers to drive their brands, away from buying space and airtime in traditional media outlets.
The trend is also shifting in the sense that some media outlets such as tabloids and online media websites are gradually turning to the pages of social media influencers as sources of information and news.
Flavia Tumusiime (@Mizzflav)
In so many ways, Flavia Tumusiime was made for the big screen. As a teenager, she was already gracing the television screen, hosting a kids show on WBS TV. Before long, she had become a top mistress of ceremonies.
Her popularity has since grown beyond the borders. As such, she commands a brand profile that many corporate companies want to associate with.
Tumusiime is a social media influencer for Uganda Breweries Limited for its Red Card campaign, which tackles drink driving. Other top companies such as MTN have also tapped her. She has 59,000 followers.
Sarah Kagingo (@SarahKagingo)
With more than 51,000 followers her Twitter, Sarah Kagingo has used her account to promote the tourism potential of the country.
While she is also known to paint a colourful picture of some of the ruling government’s programmes, her main tweets now portray the picturesque scenes of the country, showing the tourism potential using the hashtag #PearlofAfrica.
Talkative Rocker (@beewol)
Talkative Rocker, whose real name is Bernard Olupot, was one of the influencers who made the trip to South Africa with Coca-Cola.
With nearly 24,000 followers, Olupot has his fingers deep into the music industry and is seen influencing some of the music shows in town. From football, be it local or international, to the politics of the day, he combines humour and vernacular to make his point. His tweets appeal across different age and interest groups.
On his Facebook page, he says he is the number one ranked blogger in Uganda. “I teach, I diss, I sensitise,” he says. Of course he is not the number one blogger, although Katto’s Facebook has quite a following, with more than 68,000 followers.
He specialises in the entertainment industry, spinning the rumour mill on celebrities. Artistes who want to promote their music videos or concerts turn to people like Katto.
Ray Supasta (Mr Popularity)
His job is to build brands, and build he has. Ray Supasta’s Facebook page has become a good place to music shows and all sorts of beauty products. He is followed by more than 40,000 people.
Bettinah Tianah (@BTianah)
While appearing on Radio Sanyu’s Celeb Select programme recently, Bettinah said she was not dating anyone but was ready to start a new relationship.
For now, the love affair that appears to be occupying Bettinah’s mind is building brands. She is a media influencer of Africell, a company that is strong on data and retains a small number of corporate clients.
Bettinah, who is also part of a panel for NTV Uganda’s The Style Project, a fashion programme, was also among the social media influencers that Coca-Cola took to South Africa for the World Cup trophy tour. She has 12,600 followers.
Catherine Ruhweza (Mama Tendo)
Every Thursday, the Facebook page, Mama Tendo, has a market day. Here, everyone advertises all sorts of things.
But it is the relationship issues among couples and the stories of the breakups and make-ups among lovers that have turned Mama Tendo such a strong influence on families. The page was started by Catherine Ruhweza, a columnist in New Vision.
Some of the relationship debates on radio are picked from Mama Tendo’s page. The page has more than 183,000 members , mainly women.
Kanyomozi District @PatriqKanyomozi
Patrick Kanyomozi should be doing comedy. Blessed with a creative mind that can turn a humdrum and serious issue into laughable diction, Kanyomozi is a source of comic relief to those who follow him.
Going by the names of Kanyomozi District on his Twitter handle and armed with 15,000 followers, he does social media influencing for the sports betting company, BetYetu, and Total Uganda, among others.
Compared to the number of tweets he has made and their reactions and the followers he has, Kanyomozi is high up there among the top influencers in Kampala.
Muhereza Kyamutetera (@StKyamutetera)
Carol Atuhirwe was just one of the many statistics of Ugandan patients diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kyamutetera began the Save Carol campaign to collect money for her medical bills.
He organised a car wash by throwing all kinds of tweets and Facebook posts to raise awareness and money. He has since become a key social media influencer and his following has risen sharply of recent to around 13,000 followers.
Kakensa (Henry Ndugwa)
If you are looking for the video clip of artiste Jose Chameleone in a brawl somewhere at a party or the insider gossip about the strains in the marriages of a prominent couple, then look no further than the Facebook page called Kakensa Media run by Henry Ndugwa.
The page is run by Henry Ndugwa and is, by most measures, the most popular gossip page in Uganda.
A couple of months ago, Facebook closed Kakensa. The reason as to why remains unclear. A week later, Kakensa opened a new account, and all the followers returned.
Some people pay to have their stories published on Kakensa. The page has more than 268,000 followers. Some people pay money to Kakensa to advertise their products and events on his page.
Usual Suspect (@Jude_Mugabi)
When Mobinet Group, a financial technology company, together with Interswitch, needed some noise around the inaugural Uganda Universities Debate Championship earlier this year, they turned to Usual Suspect, whose real name is Jude Mugabi.
With more than 25,000 followers, he shot off tweets during the debate, creating awareness of a championship that now plans to occupy a special spot on the calendar of curricular activities for universities.
If you are the kind that had taken more than the allowed limit for alcohol, then Edward Sendi’s Facebook page was one that was highly recommended if you needed to avoid traffic cops looking out for drunkards. So, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, Sendi would post where the traffic cops were staged.
Along the way, Sendi has become a key influencer of artistes planning concerts. Because of the credibility that he commands, and the friendship he enjoys among the top musicians in the country, Sendi’s Facebook posts tend to attract a lot of attention.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ritah Kaggwa specialises in churning out all sorts of gossip, from celebrities to the ordinary folk. Just like Kakensa, she has some of the exclusive gossip around Kampala.
Ritah Kaggwa uses her Facebook page for those who have something to sell, such as land or any other assets. Then there are also those looking for love to settle a score; Kaggwa has welcomed all those. She has more than 43,000 followers on her page.