Nigerian social media influencers have proven to wield enormous power on social media to influence their followers. At least, before the 2015 general elections.
Those of them who have their way with words can influence the behaviour of their huge audience to their advantage, including voting for a presidential candidate who is supported by a prop.
Social media in Nigeria has seen tremendous growth over the last decade and has continued to become so important for business, information dissemination, human development, and a tool to influence people’s behaviours.
It has produced what is now known as social media influencers. People who have amassed a huge following and making most of the traffic and profit therein.
More than 5 billion people the world over are active on social media doing business, surfing for fun, or just following the trend, of which about 40 million or more are Nigerians according to a study by Statista.
Who are social media influencers?
Social media influencers are individuals on social media with huge followers who have the ability to influence people’s behaviour through the content they produce.
The influencers can be celebrities – artists, movie stars, government officials (past or present), professionals, experts, or just random individuals who have a huge audience.
During crises, the Influencers lend their voices especially positively to address whatever problem there is.
They regularly tweet and engage their audience through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms by publishing content that the audience resonates with, most times giving away gifts as a reward for their loyalty.
Most of them have reputed themselves in the knowledge of a specific subject and create engageable content regularly and engage their ever-waiting audience.
Social media influencers undoubtedly are powerful as long as social media is concerned.
For instance, they can strip their audience of their opinion and hand them fresh opinions in a matter of a few posts.
When they are recruited for promotion, they go all out to churn out posts upon posts to impress the message on the minds of their audience.
People who have something to sell or the need to get across to a large number of people in a geographical area solicit the services of the influencers. The influencers charge clients to use their platform for easy reach.
These influencers create content that trend and can go viral to garner huge engagements which are convertible to the advantage of the client.
That is why brands and governments use them for promotions and awareness.
Influencing social media has become a career for some people because of the huge returns when an influencer is good and delivers good results.
However, it is a risky venture for somebody who doesn’t apply caution and doesn’t care about dignity and all it entails.
Social media influencers in Nigeria
For the purpose of this post, I am not going to conform to the types of influencers available on the net. I have closely watched the influencers in Nigeria and it is right to categorize them into two groups:
- The celebrity influencers and
- The career influencers
The celebrity influencers
The celebrity influencers are artistes, movie stars, well-known pastors, prominent government officials, etc.
These sets of people naturally have a huge audience organically because of what they do and they use their platforms to engage their audience on matters concerning activities in their profession like the next album, movie, or project.
It is a way for them to be closer to their audience or fans.
They also use the platform for charity work and give assistance to their fans who are having challenges.
One clear fact about these types of influencers is that they do not influence for money. They sensitize, encourage, and advise their audience.
The career influencers
Career influencers are not people who influence a particular career. They are people who have taken influencing as a career and means of livelihood.
Influencing has become their major occupation and they put all their energy into it.
They are not popular artistes or movie stars; they are random people who bought their way to acquiring a huge audience or through the hard work of creating consistent relevant content that resonates with people and grew their accounts.
Some also shot into the limelight by accident. Crises have a way of making people popular. There are some influencers who became popular because they went to jail or participated in one crisis or another.
The career influencers in Nigeria are at the centre of this article.
The majority of career influencers bait opportunities to manipulate processes for their own selfish gains.
Most of them do not have professional careers, the only things they have to their names are huge audiences and negative or positive opinions on trending topics.
One of their obsessions is trending for whatever reason. They love to trend. They either trend organically or by manipulating situations to be the center of discussion.
Opposing public opinion is their trademark so they receive backlashes to trend. The trends give them more exposure because they know some people must align with their thoughts.
How Nigerian social media influencers hone their followership
Influencers are known to hone their followership by posting useful content on regular basis, keeping their audience entertained and informed.
The Nigerian career social media influencers amass followers by buying their way through.
One popular way they do this is by giving away cash from time to time as their followers scramble to benefit. In this way, they pull more people, especially the millennials.
These are the type that will become influencers by fire by force. I call them career influencers as they spend more money buying followers.
Unhealthy activities of the career social media influencers in Nigeria
Nigerian social media influencers exist to make money. They lack morals and only use activism to cloak their intentions.
Here are the unhealthy activities of the career Nigerian social media influencers.
The cabals of Nigerian social media
It is undeniable that there are a lot of advantages for influencers. But there are two edges to every situation. Influencers can also be used for unhealthy motives.
The majority of Nigerian social media influencers are greedy, selfish, and always kick against the course if they are not at the forefront and don’t have something to benefit from.
In recent times, they have formed cliques with the same goal orientation of antagonizing victims, especially political aspirants, scaring, deterring, cowing, and denting their images with malicious contents.
This, most times is to make the politicians approach them for negotiation of their support.
They do this very subtly so that it looks natural, but in recent times, since the Nigeria elections are close-by, they have thrown every subtlety to the winds.
They shamelessly publish malicious lies against people and clearly support the people they speak against on a normal day. They are for the money.
Combining forces makes them more effective to deliver their job. Two or more influencers can collaborate to deliver a single project and split the proceeds.
This is most effective because they would reach a wider audience and record more conversions.
These types of influencers also perform image-making services. They publish lies and try to beat into shape, the dented images of prominent people by consistently posting only complimentary things about their paymasters. Doing the hard job of defending ineptitude.
One dangerous thing about them is that they have developed to become shameless and can carry out an image-making project while going against the principles they preach, and this is how they lose people’s trust and their power begins a downward trajectory.
It is in this category of influencers you have people who are political jobbers or aid political jobbery.
They use their platforms to root for aspirants after receiving payment or promises of juicy positions.
The plight of the public or what is right or wrong is cock and bull to them. They are strictly out for business and nobody can tell them otherwise.
Political players especially the ones who have no good records to speak for them know they can always escape public attack because they buy their way through by paying influencers for image-making.
In a country like Nigeria where incompetence is loud and the need to always defend the failure that trails incompetence is rife.
The influencers always have a field day and have conformed to the style of their paymasters who have enough money to pay them for image burnishing.
When they are paid well, they can package Satan and sell him comfortably with their consciences intact.
And you know what? They would go to bed and have sound sleep.
The Nigerian breed of influencers is determined to deliver whatever project irrespective of whether it is an anti-public or corrupt practice.
They are even known to indirectly arm-twist, prod, or coerce the government to take action against perceived public actions when it doesn’t put them on the pedestal. That is how powerful they can be.
Bad brands use them to sell
Some influencers endorse anything as long as they receive money. They are easy targets for bad brands to get across to the unsuspecting audience.
We have seen where influencers endorse toxic products which are capable of cutting people’s lives short, especially in Nigeria where there is no regulation and strict adherence to guidelines.
The bold line is that they have huge followings who are mostly millennials, loyal, and willing to lap up every content, hook, line, and sinker. They sway by subtle or hard impressions of their opinions.
Nigerian career influencers and 2015 Presidential elections
I remember the 2015 pre-elections period, which was the major period Influencers proved to be very powerful in Nigeria.
The influencers were used for campaigns of calumny against opponents and they worked and delivered for wages.
They allowed themselves to be willing tools in the hands of merchants of evil change that have left Nigeria gasping for breath.
These social media cabals can package incompetence and deliver comfortably with the friendliest expression on their faces.
Their energy and propeller are the huge amounts the players are willing to pay. They sold garbage and ineptitude to the people and went home for a job well done.
Some left the country while others acquired investments and continued to live large as they lie in wait for the next prey.
But it didn’t take long before their folly manifested and their foolishness played out before them in the open.
Some of them apologized and their apologies might have been accepted but their reputation and integrity would hardly be redeemed.
They were contracted to attack maliciously, the former president while inducing their followers to vote for another.
In the course of delivering, they clashed with people who thought they would follow the route of dignity and support credible candidates.
They were offered mouthwatering, irresistible offers that made them throw caution and decorum to the wind.
Funny enough, the money offered to them is looted from the commonwealth of the nation.
There is no difference between the Nigerian influencer-cum-political-jobbers and their principals.
Conscience is far from them and only understand the language of money. They can abandon their subjects as long as money is involved because they can always apologize later.
When you are given to avarice and do away with conscience, it blurs your recognition of balance in the conduct of your life, and you begin to step on toes, creating unnecessary enemies here and there.
Better to have porridge in peace, than to have a feast in chaos. It takes a highly disciplined person to remain resolute even when offered inducements to shift grounds.
Nigerian career influencers and the 2020 protest
In 2020, during the youth protest against police brutality that has been a major problem since God-knows-when (ENDSARS), saw the murder of many youths.
That was the first time Influencers actually had the opportunity to influence properly and etch their names on the positive side of the chronicle.
Influencers were at first at the forefront of the situation before the government used its ever-effective intimidating, divide-and-smack tactics to cause confusion.
Some influencers withdrew and others continued to demand an end to Police brutality.
One thing that is notable is that most influencers always like to be the spearheads of reconciliatory moves for the people and the government for which they fail mostly at.
If they are not among the planners, then be sure of their kicks against the movement.
And this is because of what they can get, not because they have the good of the people at heart.
There is always a power play among them, and this causes a lot of problems and counterproductive results for the common goal.
They collude with the government, or better still, the government coerces them to accept their terms.
Some at a time became fencers who because for whatever reasons decided not to push hard for the movement.
They labeled the movement insurrection and an attempt to overthrow the government.
This attitude was a disappointment for the youth because they were hoping on the influencers who have been on the lookout for their welfare ab initio.
Influencers played a major role both on the part of the youth and on the part of the government.
But at the end of the entire crisis, a committee set up to look into the matter came out with a controversial whitepaper that didn’t capture the entire crisis and participation of every party involved.
People believed the white paper was influenced, and that was it.
Nigerian career influencers and the 2023 Presidential election
The buildup to the 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria has revealed a lot about people who were hitherto the hope of, especially the youth of the country.
A country that has been held hostage by a particular bloc of old men who have refused to give the youth a chance.
These politicians see most influencer-cum-political jobbers as their hatchet men for dirty jobs especially as it concerns image-making and usurping the truth.
It is said that when a lie is told multiple times, it becomes accepted. These influencers consistently publish lies as they sell their paying candidates.
They are up and about trying to secure, as usual, political jobbing without considering who is fit to run.
Before now, the Nigerian people were presented with the devil and the deep blue sea to choose from as their President.
The land is desolate, integrity and self-discipline are lacking and poverty stalks the land.
The political class uses poverty to enslave the populace and can manipulate them therewith through negative influencers.
Now they are at it again, hardly demarketing aspirants who might not be willing to pay, or rather creating confusion to create a panic that would have the aspirants soliciting for their selfish services.
But things are changing for them fast.
Social media was agog recently about certain influencers who began a subtle campaign against a particular aspirant whose popularity has been rising consistently across the country because of his relative competence and type of politicking.
His supporters were labeled extremists, agitators, and anything but decent.
They tried to stoke vile and ethnic attacks which can cause confusion and panic so they can take advantage of it. But I am not sure their tactics paid off.
If it didn’t pay off, they must be cooking up another strategy to launch. They must get the services of desperate politicians or starve.
But this time there is a big difference, a third force is giving the two established parties a run for their money.
There is apprehension, and the Influencers have the usual opportunity to make money, and not for a better country.
Most of them have been accused several times of compromise, receiving inducements from whichever candidate and then starting a fierce campaign of calumny against the strongest candidates to deliver the project.
The 2023 elections from the early signs would be a major deviation from the status quo.
The voter apathy that INEC has been complaining about would be minimal as more youth have become interested in voting because of a particular candidate and the momentum is increasing by the day.
The social media career influencers are bitter that they are being sidelined and so we will continue to see how far they can hold on before the 2023 elections.
The youth from the look of things are ready for them.
This article is an opinion article from the desk of the Conducts Of Life’s publisher.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
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