By Charndré Emma Kippie
Mihlali Ndamase, South Africa’s most-followed and adored Digital Content Creator, has been making waves wherever she invests her time and efforts. A Brand Strategist, certified Beauty Guru, and the Co-Founder of the Siyasizana Foundation, she is a jack of all trades, hailing from Kokstad, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and making a major impact in the media and through her charitable initiatives. Mihlali’s content is both aesthetic and empowering, inspiring young women across the nation to pursue their dreams and fondest ambitions no matter how many times they’re told ‘no’.
A YouTube sensation and blogger, the 24 year old creative has made her mark on a plethora of publications, such as being on the cover of Hello Joburg Magazine, and gracing the first-ever selfie-inspired cover on Cosmopolitan Magazine SA. In 2019 she was awarded the Socialite of the Year at the Feather Awards, as well as the Cosmo Influencer of the Year Sparkle Award. She was elected as the ambassador and face of the Johnsons & Johnsons Fresh Hydration range, and is the First South African Face of the prestigious Swedish brand, Daniel Wellington.
What’s your definition of an ‘influencer’?
An influencer is someone with the power to persuade a person or large group of people’s buying decisions, through promoting the brand on social media through a detailed review or product placement.
Influencers need to be great communicators. What three things make for optimal online communication with a consumer audience?
Transparency is important; you need to be transparent about every detail of information concerning the product/ service. Authenticity also goes a long way. You are most likely to grasp your audience’s attention through your own unique way of communication, and by constantly being yourself you don’t have to worry about losing your audience. People that follow and appreciate your work are also invested in you as a brand. Understand your audience and you’ll know which brands you can successfully collaborate with when you understand your niche.
What are some of your thoughts on influencer marketing creating jobs in South Africa?
I think South Africa has just touched the tip of the influencer marketing iceberg, There’s so much potential invested in content creators and content consumers. This field allows people to express themselves. Those consuming the content want to be able to ‘relate’ to content creators, many influencers have learnt how to successfully monetise this – relatability.
Influencer marketing has not only created revenue for young creators, it has also impacted the lives of many, considering there is a high unemployment rate in South Africa. Many business owners have converted from inshore to online to save money, and they partner with influencers to increase their sales. It’s truly an industry that benefits more than just the influencers alone, so I feel only good can come out of it – when used for the right reasons.
What sets micro-influencers/content creators apart from celebrity influencers? Which has a bigger impact, in your opinion?
In my opinion, influencers are more organic in their content creation, by incorporating the product/ service they are promoting into their currently existing lifestyle, which makes them more relatable. Traditionally, celebrities are associated with big endorsement deals and highly curated content for traditional media, thus resulting in it being more ‘aspirational’ content.
What’s one opportunity for using influencer marketing that maybe marketers overlook that has the potential to make a significant positive impact beyond content creation?
Sometimes marketers overlook the simplicity in the power of influencer marketing, as a tool that can be used to start an impactful conversation. Example being, organisations often merely use celebrities as the face of a cause. A simple tweet from an influencer, asking people to engage on a social issue, will motivate people to work with a foundation and stand up for the cause, which in return raises awareness around the crisis and compels people to actually do something about it.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Impacting lives and getting the opportunity to engage with people who genuinely love and support you daily.
What have been some major obstacles in your career, as a woman, and how did you overcome them?
I’ve experienced being exploited by brands, not being taken seriously in boardrooms when first starting out, and having to ‘name your price’ as a young black creative because you are intimidated by the industry. I overcame this by learning the ins and outs of the business, taking time to build authentic business relationships with my sponsors, having a team of trusted individuals around me, and investing in myself to build a credible brand. As a young creative it’s easy to get lost in the money and hype that comes with being an influencer. I have used my resources to plough back into my business.
As someone who has an established platform now, what are your goals for the future?
The goal is to grow and expand my business, by finding a more direct way to monetise my relationship with my audience. We are working towards multiple streams of income, and building a brand that will outlive me. I am working on building my legacy.
Where do you see influencer marketing going in 5 years?
I believe we will find innovative, smarter ways to generate income from influencer marketing – even for those who are not in the forefront. It’s a fast paced, growing industry that constantly requires us to be agile, so I believe we’ll be seeing more quality content being put out in ways we never expected. With technology, anything is possible at this point.
What advice do you have for young women entrepreneurs looking to embark on a career in Influencer Marketing?
I would have to say you need to be consistent; people will forget about you if you’re not, so try and build your brand’s foundation on consistency. Also, take time to identify the core of your brand, and move forward keeping the end goal in mind. Remember to be authentic; you’ll only be a lousy version of someone else if you try to be something you’re not.