by Lerato Mashile
Born in Harrismith, Busisiwe Skhosana is an experienced creative working for numerous agencies offering branding services and has been a social media representative for 7 years across all industries.
Busisiwe is a mother of 1, lover of sneakers and is someone who enjoys engaging and helping people as she believes that there is enough room for everyone to make money.
I had a quick chat with her regarding the dynamics of branding, securing the bag as an influencer and most importantly, her Masterclass Influencing the Influencer.
- Known as an Experienced Head of Media, where did your love for media, particularly in the creative space, begin and who/what influenced it?
I use to listen to YFM when I was in high school and I remember being a fan of Mam’Dinny and Bujy’s show which played at 4pm and it influenced my idea of what media was like. I then started to love reading adverts, I would watch adverts and analyse it from a different perspective to what my parents, as well as siblings, would look at. I would say “I don’t get what they are trying to sell” or “I feel like they could have sold me this new product better” which influenced my love for the creative space.
In as much as I am creative, I am also business-minded as well as analytical and it makes the pairing of the two very efficient when it comes to me branching out and doing my own business. If you look at the history of my career, it has always been prevalent where I am able to be both creative and analytical.
- It can be said that “branding” is a word that is loosely thrown around these days; so, to someone who still doesn’t understand the concept, what exactly is branding and how has it evolved over the years?
Branding is how people identify you. Your brand speaks to who you are, what you offer, and what you stand for. In the business space, branding extends to your colours, your voice, your message, your tone and something we call, your prepositioning where this is how you want to be preserved by the market. It has evolved over the years from rigid and boring as we now have brands exploring penton colours a bit out of range.
Branding is extending to where people are understanding that they too are a brand especially in my space where influencers are also now considered brands. If I know you to be a certain type of person, that is your brand – it doesn’t matter how many times you rebrand. Branding is how people know you to be.
- Given that companies and the public were always seen as separate entities, in what ways has social media bridged the gap in companies and their market?
Social media has allowed companies to create a relationship with their customers. It is essentially a way of relationship building. It is not for advertising, it is not a billboard, it is not for one way communication but it is for building a relationship with your customers. It is getting real insight in real-time and it is implementing those real insights to better serve your customers. Something like getting a query or question on social media, it is immediate as opposed to back in the day when you had to wait for a letter in the complaint box or a review on the website.
Social media allows people to engage in and around your brand where you also get to participate and be part of the conversation as well as change the perception. The one thing we notice is that brands go to markets with a certain strategy and find out that it doesn’t work but there is a small element to their strategy that they did not put attention to that works then they take those insights and magnify that one small aspect that wasn’t working and make that their entire campaign and that ensures campaign success whether that is brand awareness, engagement, product launch.
- Everyone now refers to themselves as a brand so what are some of the biggest misconceptions about being a social media influencer and what are 3 tips to consider if you actually want to make money out of social media?
The biggest misconception about being a brand is the fact that people think that it is easy. Yes being a social media influencer is meant to be easy but in a market that is so saturated, you have to be cut above the rest and you have to stand out from everybody else which is quite a lot of work especially into your strategy, having management that takes you a step further, really looking at your content and how you are offering this content, how do you differentiate yourself from everybody else. It is really looking at the relationship that you have with your audience. It’s saying, “my audience knows me for this and I will not divert from that and I will rather build on that”.
My 3 tips would be to:
–Optimize your pages in such a manner that if a brand wants to work with you, they have more than your social media pages, this is where we start incorporating SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into your social media offering from a brand and influencer perspective.
–Be consistent in the type of content you put out when you put out the content, the message. Staying consistent with your brand and sticking to what your brand is all about, how it interacts with its audience
–Have management. The benefit of having management is having someone who goes over and above what you can do. The thing is in the industry is when you have a manager, people respect you and it is easy for them to negotiate your rates as opposed to when you are speaking on your own, nobody really listens to you. The assumption is that the brand or social media manager knows better. Having a manager also means having access, a lot of managers have been in the industry for a long time and have built relationships with a number of people in the industry and they know how the game works.
- The Influencing the influencer, please unpack the intentions of the masterclass?
I have been looking at the Masterclass from a brand perspective. Having worked in social media for a while and with influencer marketing which we introduced 3 years ago, my biggest problem was that in delivering the message, influencers never got it right. It was a replica of what everyone is doing. I saw an opportunity to actually start educating people what they could be doing, the angles they could be looking given that everyone is looking at it from a place where it is fun, you are getting free stuff, going to these cool events but there is so much more than you can offer.
There are so many opportunities and gaps you can fill especially since the market is saturated. Someone actually wrote on Twitter how they gave a bad review on a client and the client never got back to them as opposed to my company which was approached to collect bad reviews in an effort to improve their service offering.
It’s teaching people to approach things differently, look at opportunities where they can bring about something different from what everybody else is doing. Comparing the global markets to South Africa and seeing what they are doing and seeing what we can do. Africa is the content hub of the world but we are still very lazy in our execution, we just copy and paste because someone else is doing it better than you on the perception that they are getting booked, it is not necessarily the case. It is about developing skills particularly since a lot of people cannot measure the value that they brought to a campaign or how to charge on a particular campaign.
This is why people get taken advantage of because companies know that everyone wants to be an influencer so we want to educate people, so they understand why it makes sense for Mihlali to charge R25 000 for a post on Instagram. It also calls out brand managers and saying “I don’t know what campaign success looks like for you” given that briefs are limited as it doesn’t tell you what the campaign is all about or what is it trying to achieve.