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Pearl Thusi is Only Humanz: The Importance of Trust in Influencer Marketing

“The biggest problem in the influencer marketing industry is a lack of trust. There’s no trust in the influencers that they actually care about the brands they’re promoting. There’s no trust that their followers are real.” - e-marketer.

However, there are only a few individuals in South Africa who have the kind of extensive first-hand campaign experience as one of South Africa’s top celebrities and influencers, Pearl Thusi.  Thusi can speak to the issue of trust from an influencer perspective based on her vast personal experience within the South African context.

A recent report from e-marketer spells out  the issue clearly, “The biggest problem in the influencer marketing industry is a lack of trust. There’s no trust in the influencers that they actually care about the brands they’re promoting. There’s no trust that their followers are real.”

To address this concern, and some of the other challenges facing both agencies and influencers, Thusi is part of the team that has recently launched the Humanz platform in South Africa. This software analyses, not only influencer profiles, but all of their followers too.  Using natural language processing and image recognition paired with artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, to understand variables such as gender, age, interest, activity and previous mentions of specific brands, Humanz is a significant technological step-forward.

As an influencer, Thusi has experienced for herself how and why such a tool is needed and why the core values of of trust and authenticity are so central to the agency/ influencer relationship, as she explains, “my relationship with the product has to be authentic- there’s no price that can be placed on that.  I also only work with clients and agencies who understand and respect my worth. It's essential to know your market and the importance or having an organic, authentic relationship with the product. Its so obvious, we all know at this stage that people are getting paid, however, the authenticity should never be compromised. As a brand or an agency, you need to understand what you need communicated and then trust the influencer.”

The consumer market has matured, and as Thusi states, consumers are savvy enough to know influencers are being paid, meaning that more and more an influencer’s reputation and ability to actually influence is based on one thing – “Authenticity is everything. Things go viral not because of numbers only, but because they speak to people in an authentic way, it doesn’t matter how big the numbers are- content is king. Its the content that people have to engage with- and it has to resonate.”

For agencies to understand of the worth of an influencer is in-itself a difficult process, both for the agency and the influencer. According to Thusi, in order to establish a costing for a campaign its important to “consider what they’re asking for, how many posts, how much time is needed?  What kind of content needs to be created?  However, my numbers and my follower engagement are the most important parts for me- because my community is everything to me and I can’t and won’t just regurgitate every other post or campaign that is given to me. It has to work within my space.”
Thusi also advises agencies to approach influencer marketing from a diversity of perspectives,“not every agency understands this concept, but sometimes influencer marketing reminds me of the old fashioned door-to-door selling model- it works!  

These days a commercial on TV isn’t that impactful unless the content is controversial or very well scripted and shot. However, people believe people, and  people talk to people, especially when its real. Agencies should understand that a celebrity or highly influential individual can start a conversation, but you need people - micro influencers - to keep the conversation going.  They are the real agents of change and influence, they are the bees that collect the pollen and keep the hive functioning as they pollinate for future conversations.”

Angencies and the potential of influencers

According to Thusi, often agencies do not fully understand the potential of influencer campaigns, “Some agencies and even influencers are just getting the job done in the cheapest way possible and do not understand the value and worth of influencers on every tier. This can lead to the influencer not going all out.  I believe campaigns could improve when influencers are made to understand their value, power and worth and treated as such. also when the numbers speak for themselves, like with Humanz it's easy to tell which influencer really loves sharing and creating awareness, regardless of the remuneration. Let people be people- influencers are not robots. They are people, powerful people.”

Influencer market growing swiftly in South Africa

According to Thusi, the influencer market in South Africa is growing swiftly and influencer strength is growing. She believes that, “the market is actually being led by the power of the influencers, not just locally, but globally and it's amazing for me to see people being rewarded for being themselves and doing what they love.”

Based on her experiences, Thusi was excited to be able to bring a platform such as Humanz to the South African market. As she explains, “Humanz is the bridge. Not every influencer has a manager or has a professional influencer operation. 

That’s how Humanz assists the influencer. For agencies the platform provides transparency and information, enabling them to choose the perfect people for their campaigns, where right now its almost a blind date with every influencer. Are all their followers real? Did they buy the engagement- if there is any?’ Agencies and influencers need to connect- and the strongest bridge is the Humanz platform.”

Humanz officially launched in South Africa on March 1st  after successfully carrying out pilot projects with some of the largest agencies, brands and influencers locally.

A free trial of the platform is available on the website along with information on their partner programs for agencies and content creators.

Tweet us @GoXtraNews or email the editor Buchule Raba 

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