A generation of social media influencers

Human inventiveness has turned fantasy into reality making life pleasurable to live and death a more terrifying prospect; with Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, people have created alternative lifestyles online that are often more colorful than their actual lives.

Human inventiveness has turned fantasy into reality making life pleasurable to live and death a more terrifying prospect; with Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, people have created alternative lifestyles online that are often more colorful than their actual lives.

There are more CEOs on Facebook profiles than what an entire country might have in its registry because it is easier for anyone to be anything, online than it is offline.

In a way, social media allows people to craft their lives the way they would want if it was up to them.

Your reality may suck. But creating fantasy on social media that soothes one’s pain has become a therapy of sorts. There are very few unhappy people on Instagram at least going by the selfie-posts there, everyone is so gorgeous, they live in fancy neighborhoods and no one is hungry.

Sociologists and community psychologists have a long list of behaviors among social media users to analyze. But Politicians too could find an idea or two regarding the aspirations of their people.

The actual world is a tough place but it is mostly adults above 30 living in it. The young people below the age of 25 who form the dominant majority may be seen physically but they mostly live in the virtual world of social media where being jobless and incomeless is less painful.

Your son is in his bedroom physically, but he’s hanging out with virtual friends in online chatrooms, viewing the latest video on YouTube or bashing someone on Facebook.

Like oxygen in the real world, internet bundles are what one needs to thrive in the social media virtual world where true power lies in the number of one’s followers and how many likes your selfie generated or the number of views your video earned.

Gradually, this virtual social media following has become an asset for some people in real life. There is a new generation of social media celebrities and suddenly, the world is beginning to pay attention to them, as ‘influencers’ with a major ‘social media’ following.

Companies that would not employ these young people in real life hence contributing to the idleness that pushed them into exile in the virtual world of social media, are now seeking them out, willing to spend a fat chunk of their marketing budgets to tap their social media following.

A marketing manager who doesn’t know how to use social media influencers to their brand’s benefit suddenly risks losing the job to someone who is more social media savvy.

The beauty is, unlike traditional media channels whose impact is hard to measure, social media posts are easy to evaluate for impact by simply viewing the analytics per post.

Many a young person have realized the power of having a large following on social media and they’re willing to do anything to build that base.

Uwase, a final year student at IPRC has nearly 15000 Instagram followers and uses her platform to advertise products of major retailers around town, earning an income enough to take good care of herself as to consolidate her social media following. She charges Rwf10,000 an hour.

Even when she graduates and finally gets herself a job, she might use her social media platforms as a formidable source of side income paying off bills such as electricity and rent.

There are dozens of social media influencers in Uwase’s league and their power is ever increasing. But it is not easy to grow a big following. It is stressful at times. The other day I witnessed what could have been meant to be a romantic date turn into a model photo-shoot.

Instead of paying attention to their dinner, the lady was pouting her lips as she took several selfies from different angles, making sure the delicious meal of chips and chicken was captured; she wasn’t satisfied. The guy was requested to help. Painfully, he took on the role of camera man.

It is not just girls. Young men too. It is just that, ladies are currently leading the trend.

Lately, there is a new trend, lately of people wanting to save your WhatsApp number. The truth is, they’re trying to grow their WhatsApp contact list to boost their views on WhatsApp live status when they post their client’s products.

As commercial brands prepare to spend their marketing budgets in 2018, they can’t afford to ignore the value of this new generation of social media influencers as formidable agents of their product marketing communication to tens of thousands of their followers.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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