Event marketing

The limits of influencer marketing

Davido and Mobile

By Akin Olaniyan

The appearance of Habeeb Okikiola, otherwise known as Portable, at a campaign rally as guests of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Davido for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osogbo, Utah Osun State, drew comments from many Nigerians.

While most of the comments I’ve read question the morality of popular musicians throwing their star power behind political campaigns; the real question of their electoral value remains largely ignored.

In their aggressive self-branding, celebrities and micro-celebrities live in a world that is often remote from reality; whose sole purpose is to build social capital. If you just look at micro-celebrities like Tacha and Jane Mena, you easily see that (1) social media seems to promise fame and wealth and (2) there’s a cheap formula for replicating success.

In their world, there is ‘real’ life, the one they invest heavily in showing their followers, and ‘real life’, which should be a much more accurate measure of their credibility on the street. Understanding and measuring their credibility on the street is confusing and naturally; because the celebration of ordinary people most of the time grants much more credibility than is earned.

This is why the organizers of the Osogbo rallies seem to miss the point. Unless they were brought in for their purely entertainment value, there is no support for the argument that they can affect tomorrow’s votes.

The 2015 election and the events of OccupyNigeria already show that winning elections goes beyond being active online. Street credibility in Nigeria goes beyond big numbers on social media.

I can imagine the organizers of the Osogbo rallies defining these appearances as influencer marketing, but either don’t understand the concept or misinterpret the two musicians’ ability to provide votes.

An influencer is one who can convince their followers to take action and I guess the intention of the organizers is to leverage the power of star musicians to increase their candidate’s chances of winning at the polls tomorrow. But can they? There is a fine line between a micro-celebrity or online influencer who achieves a certain level of influence and credibility by intentionally creating social media content and celebrities who become famous for their skills or notoriety in a other place.

With a large follower ship, both can exert influence online that can be used for marketing purposes, but there needs to be a perfect match between the organization or brand looking to partner with a celebrity or a micro-celebrity; and the measurement of marketing results. Sentiment for or against those using influencer marketing is directly aligned with the public perception of the celebrity or micro-celebrity selected for partnership

Given the backlash so far, APC seems to have messed up the selection of “influencer” to partner with and that’s because the artist they went with is known to attract negative feelings. . Attending a public gathering of boxers while appearing to desecrate a monument honoring one of Yoruba’s finest is sure to draw criticism. This man’s action illustrates the dangers and limits of influencer marketing.

Unless the APC has reason to believe he will deliver votes, the youngster’s appearance in Osogbo is the political equivalent of an own goal