How influencers are changing the face of advertising

In recent years, brands have been using “influencers” as the face of their advertisements. Influencers’ endorsed opinions about products, are shared on social media platforms, to help spread viral conversations about brands online. 

These people are generally known as social media influencers, and they’re a crucial component of influencer marketingthrough social posts, stories, or videos.

Edward Olumola, an operations manager at Century Park Hotels says traditional Advertising is dying due to influence of the Internet and that in the near future more corporate entities will use influencers because they reach out to the right people at the right time at a cost effective way.

Olumola admits that he has used social media influencers before and believes that people who follow them sometimes believe what they write and say more than journalists

“Since Social media influencers speak from a personal point of view, they tend to lean towards what they like sharing. Some prefer sports, some politics, and some family issues while some mainly drive the content towards business.

So depending on the product you want visibility for you sieve under those categories,” he says.

Social media influencers have to keep up with the digital trends to connect with their followers through an increasingly wide array of mediums and formats.

Sunday Times looks at some of the popular social media influencers (in no particular order) in Rwanda who are making use of digital advertising.

Allan Brian Ssenyonga

The blogger, teacher and columnist reveals that he has always been fascinated by anything media related and reveals that once he learnt how to use the platforms he preferred to be more of a content producer than a mere consumer.

“Sharing interesting content,” he says, “leads to more people following you and soon have a sizeable audience that you can influence.”Ssenyonga has over 16,000 followers on twitter and is passionate about East African travel and tourism, and education.


Makeda Mahadeo

A video producer, radio presenter, DJ and MC, Makeda has proven that she can mesh social media and a traditional entertainment career. The influencer combined her entrepreneurial background and vivacious personality with a passion for video blogging and in just two years her YouTube channel has already earned her nearly 3,000 subscribers.

Her many roles have seen her travel often to many parts of the world and whether it is vacation or a DJ gig, Makeda will share her experience with her followers.She intimates that she loves sharing aspects of her life on social media because she loves learning about other people’s experiences.

“I think that it’s nice to have perspectives of people from all over the world, I feel I’m contributing to that and it’s confirmed when people tell me they relate to my content. I don’t feel pressure to keep up with any trends because I’m doing what feels natural to genuinely share, I’m not doing it for only likes and views,” she says.

To her this is a learning process however she has learned to hold back more, these days because some people can “cross the line of privacy although it doesn’t happen often.”


Edmund Kagire

The Rwandan journalist is a cancer survivor and father of two, as he proudly states on his twitter bio. In 2015, with the help of social media and fundraisers and mainly the government, Kagire managed to raise funds to go for treatment in India.

He has since become a key social media influencer and his following has risen sharply of recent to over 11,000 followers. Kagire says that journalism is one of the professions that make influencing easier, among commentators and opinion leaders.

He adds that other factors that attract followers include creativity in generating a debate, being an active social media user having sense of humor or posts that people usually relate to.


Fiona Kamikazi Rutagengwa

The communications specialist has over 11,000 followers on twitter and 4,000 followers on Instagram. Unquestionably, her comedic nature has effortlessly earned her a large and engaged fanbase through typically infusing humor to her posts, while attracting debate.

Kamikazi will post just about anything including sports, politics, celebrity news, and tourism. Her tweets appeal across different age and interest groups.


Edwin Musoni

Thanks to his social media outreach, Musoni uses his journalistic skills to earn him extra money by influencing a number of brands and campaigns especially on twitter that has close to 9,000 followers. He has influenced a number of campaigns and brands like REMA’s clean cooking and Zipline.


Bobby Rutarindwa

No matter the platform, Rutarindwa is a jokester. He posts hilarious memes on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and regularly shares funny short-form video skits.

Rutarindwa’s posts tend to attract a lot of attention often combining humor and vernacular to make his point. He has mastered the art of influencing while entertaining and even created a personalised hashtag #FataKuriLike. Rutarindwa has over 4,000 followers on twitter and over 2, 000 on Instagram.


Richard Kwizera

He is a journalist with over 15,000 followers and is among the top influencers in Kigali given the number of followers, tweets he has made and their reactions.

He lives online and consistently provides his followers with the latest news update, gossip, and information to raise awareness of several campaigns in the country. He has been a social media influencer for a number of brands and events like Transform Africa, and Kigali Job Fair.


Patrick Rukundo

Rukundo keeps a simple profile yet has nearly 7,000 followers, on twitter. His hands on experience with the music industry and credibility that he commands, has seen him influence some of the music and sports events in town. Rukundo is also a talented artiste.


Théogène Manirakiza

The founder of an online media company is followed by 2,300 on Facebook and specialises in providing latest news from celebrities to the ordinary folk. He also uses his influence to sensitise about health related issues.

How to be more impactful on social media

Olumola says that choosing an influencer is relative to the product you would like visibility for, regardless of the number of followers. However there’s bias to use social media influencers because they create a journey into the buying decision. They speak from a personality point of view hence influencing or may trigger a buy.

“This mainly stems from the content they share on their feeds. They are called influencers because people tend to believe what they share as correct.

Also, it matters who is following them because this helps promote your product better because if a high influential person follows them it means they have credibility and hence create more influence. The more credible the followers the better the Social media influencer thus you choose from the latter criteria,” he says.

At the moment, this form of advertising really an adhoc profession and Olumola advises signing of contracts and formalising agreements.

“This helps reduce disputes that may occur at the end of the project.”

Ssenyonga also believes that in society there are always opinion leaders or influencers. For some reason society chooses to listen to them more than others because of their credibility. However, people are not fools, as they can also tell when what is being said is false. He advises influencers to try and maintain a balance and not turn into a mere megaphone.

“You have to turn down some deals that are not well conceptualized even when the money is good. More importantly remember why you have to stay true to yourself and why people followed in the first place and keep giving them that,” he says.


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