The Rise of the Influencers
Everyone loves an interview when the personalities involved are famous people. Moreso, as a reporter, when you are on the other side of the seat asking the questions, you want to capture the essence of this all-powerful being, get them to unravel themselves and give you a glimpse into their lives, so you can whip up a charming article about them. You lean in to catch the personal anecdote they throw because you don’t know what will make your article spectacular.
This was the case when we sat down with four of Nigeria’s top content creators across different niches. Although with different stories to tell, the same tether, content creation bound them.
On one hand is Dimma Umeh the graceful beauty expert, Joro Olumofin the vociferous love doctor and then you have the comical Nedu Emmanuel (Nedu Wazobia FM) and the peripatetic Onyinye Azode.
Dimma Umeh: The beauty game changer
You can’t claim to be a beauty enthusiast and not have heard of Dimma Umeh. Her YouTube tutorials are anticipated eagerly and a recommendation from her is enough to guarantee a beauty brand an instant sell-out.
Despite wielding this much influence, Umeh who locking down for this interview was as difficult as a makeup beginner drawing a perfect winged eyeliner apologised profusely.
The same vibrancy she started out with when she first began her journey in 2012 as That Igbo Chick is still very much evident as she talks about her content creation process. Like the Biblical Thomas, many of her readers wanted visual proof of her written beauty tutorials prompting her transition into beauty vlogging.
Her background in Banking and Finance didn’t prepare her for her sojourn into the world of makeup and growing up in Enugu didn’t help either. According to her, she didn’t take makeup classes because “the tutors focused on big cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt”.
Having realised that her decision to study Banking and Finance, which was born out of “liking how bankers dress to work” was a misinformed one, by the third level in the university, she knew she wanted to pursue her passion.
However, it was not until she had completed her National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC), and got approached by two brands that offered to pay her to use their products she knew she wanted to go into beauty content creation full time.
Combine paid gigs and running case studies in school that exposed her to how much money she could make as a beauty influencer, by 2016, she pursued her Master’s degree in a course that could help her build her dreams.
“My Master’s degree was much more informed than my first degree so I went for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which helped me monetise social media and make money out of content creation”.
This decision has helped her become one of the leading voices in beauty content creation with an influence spanning beyond the shores of Nigeria. Speaking about what stands her out, Ummeh emphasises on quality in terms of audio and visuals as she says people tend to tune out if the quality is bad. She adds,
“I am not just targeting Nigerians, I try to include as many brands from outside Nigeria because I want as many people who look like me to be able to relate. I try to make my videos relatable so that no matter what part of the world you are viewing my videos from, you can relate. For you to wield influence, the people you want to influence have to be able to relate.”
Her influence is not always a bed of roses as her content is met with both positive and negative reactions. She quickly explains that she feeds off the positive energy directed at her and over the years has learnt to develop a thick skin to the negative ones.
A bystander may be tempted to think her criticisms of brands will negatively affect her brand but according to her, her criticism often ends up working in her favour because the brands then reach out to correct things she has pointed out in her vlogs. She says,
“The nature of my job means I need to tell the truth always. Just because a product works for me doesn’t mean it will work for everybody so you have to make sure you say the truth otherwise it will come back to bite you. For content creators, what I usually tell them is to let their followers know when they have been sponsored and if you don’t like a product or it doesn’t work for you, don’t compromise your truth just because you have been paid. Don’t follow a script and do something that is not true to you.”
With a laugh, we round up the chat with a question about her beauty regimen to which she responds,
“Don’t sleep with your make up otherwise your skin would become clogged and dull. If you know the amount of effort you put into putting on your makeup, then you should exert the same in taking it off”.
Joro Olumofin: The love doctor
Known for touching on sensitive relationship topics, Joro Olumofin who is a graduate of Psychology is quite affable as we begin the chat.
For someone who has an opinion on almost every love issue under the sun, he did not always have it in mind to be an Agony Uncle.
“I feel like it is something that fell on my laps, I didn’t plan to be the guy to give advice. I have always loved giving advice to family members and friends, I would come up with posts advising people and I never knew it was something that would be massive.”
His background in psychology helped his transition to become the love therapist with a massive following. Not only has he been able to win the trust of the usually conservative Nigerians to open up, his comment section has also become a community in itself. On how he achieved this, he says,
“People don’t really want to share their problems because they are concerned or afraid of how they will be perceived or judged by society. I decided to create a platform and atmosphere where people can be anonymous and feel free to speak their minds.”
Yet one might wonder how one who is unmarried seems knowledgeable about marital issues and relationships. With his charismatic laugh, he points out that he is getting married soon before explaining that he doesn’t need to be married to give relationship advice.
“There are two basic principles to give relationship advice, psychology and experience. I have psychology so I don’t think you need to be married to give some tips. If you have dated in your life, have friends who are married and have a close relationship with your parents then you can give relationship advice”.
He buttresses his point with the example of media mogul, Oprah Winfrey who despite being unmarried gives relationship advice.
Olumofin’s followership is not free of controversy thanks to the sensitivity of his posts as he says he receives many negative comments that he can’t be bothered about. He admits to reading every single comment and laughing off the negativity because he understands that talking about tough things resonates with people.
The Love Doctor has a huge grin on his face as he casually dismisses the popular allegation that he sends some of his relationship questions.
“I laugh when people say I send some of these issues to myself because there is no way I can prove to them that I don’t. Trust me when I say I have seen crazy things and people out there are doing crazy things. The only way for me to prove that I don’t send these stories to myself is to put somebody’s name out there and of course I can’t do that so till the end of time I guess we will all have to continue speculating.”
Although a believer in the equality of the sexes, Olumofin does not consider himself a feminist; rather he attempts to strike a balance with his articles and advice. Maybe this explains why he says of the thousands of advice he has had to give during his course, he believes he riled up a lot of people when he talked about women being more natural with their looks.
To round up his chat, he emphasises a man must have money to be in a relationship otherwise frustration will set in at some point. For the women, he says that they must get out of their minds the mentality that marriage is a job and a way out of poverty. This he says explains why a person shouldn’t be thinking about marriage if they earn less than N150,000.
Just before he makes to leave, we could not help but quickly ask him about the outstanding qualities people should look out for in a partner and he answers,
“A woman should look out for a man who has a job and is religious. I think a man who takes his time to go for midweek service is a good man. He must also be sexually active because one of the issues most married women complain about is that their husband is not touching them.”
For the men, he says, “Look for a woman who can compromise. Who understands that there are times you may not be able to give you some of the things you want at the moment but can let go of certain things.”
As an afterthought, he opines that it is also best to keep relationships off social media because when you have a social media relationship, you create different teams and when things go wrong, people automatically pick sides.
Chinedu (Nedu) Emmanuel: The ever-evolving genius
Nedu’s name and face are synonymous with comedic content on the internet. The charismatic man has conquered multiple frontiers in the media, balancing radio, T.V and online content creation. His artistic flexibility and ability to adapt has cemented his relevance over the years and according to him he’s “not slowing down anytime soon.”
Nedu’s personality is that of hilarity and excitement, hence why it is understandable that he would change news reading in an unconventional manner using pidgin English. This to him was a way of “spicing up regular and boring news”.
With his personality, he explains he gets easily bored and is always looking for the next antic, hence his multiple personalities portrayed in his videos and skits.
“Our name in Nigeria is ‘on to the next’ because you might love something now and the next month something else is out. For instance, I ran with Sister Nkechi for a year and felt people had seen enough hence the creation of the Landlord character. The people loved this new character and then we brought Alhaji Musa before moving to Officer Jato. It is always about giving people different shades at different times.”
He asserts that his content always has a moral undertone and his foremost alter ego Sister Nkechi was inspired by Tyler Perry’s Madea who paints a picture of an alternatively moral character who gets her point across through unconventional means. He explains,
“Our moral values are daily going down and then we thought of how we can advise people in a funny way hence why we created a funny character and we looked at Tyler Perry’s Madea who is always giving advice and is played by Perry himself”.
He recounted how himself and his partner Ezugwu Chukwudi (Husband Material) often bounce off ideas back and forth and try multiple concepts before finally deciding what direction to go with their content.
“His (Husband Material) main duty was coming up with the script and I add my own stupidity to it.”
The on-air-personality effortlessly switches between accents during the interview moving from Queens English, pidgin English and even the occasional inflexion of Igbo leaving everyone entertained. He is equally intelligent as he credited the law of marginal diminishing utility as his reason for switching characters so the audience doesn’t grow bored of his material. He emphasised the importance of adapting and recalls how he has always used social media to push his content citing the social app Keek that allowed users upload video content and receive feedback long before Instagram became the fad.
He dispels the fear that his full-time job as an on-air personality may subsequently affect his content creation, he says to the contrary, he has flexible work hours that allow him to pursue the things he has to get done.
As regards his plans for the year, he hinted at the release of a movie starring one of his alter egos Officer Jato.
Onyinye Azode (Onyii Bekeh): The visual adventurer
Formerly known as Piktcha Perfect, Onyinye Azode is one creative you definitely can’t sideline when it comes to travel content creation, Her charm and witty personality transcend the screen of your smartphone as she possesses all the attributes she portrays online in the real world, it’s almost as if she walks around with a Valencia filter 24/7.
Although recognised in her field, Azode is thrilled at meeting Dimma Umeh who admits to knowing about the travel expert.
The graduate of medicine recounts balancing medical school and content creation stating that she didn’t prioritise one over the other, rather she applied synergy and made sure that both aspects of her life were equally attended to.
“I just knew that both of them had to be done, I had to finish school with my mates and I had to create content so instead of skipping classes to create content, I would attend classes and know at the back of my mind that after classes I had to shoot.”
On her inspiration into lifestyle and travel content creation, she acknowledges the influence of friends who pushed and encouraged her before she even saw “the vision.”
“I think it was the people around me. They had eyes and saw what I could do and asked why I wasn’t considering taking pictures professionally because I take good photographs and they were willing to be my muse”.
She goes on to describe her creative process as “spontaneous but also kind of rigid” in the sense that she goes into a project with a mental image of what the outcome should look like and she continues to recreate until she achieves what she has in mind. She further stated that her inspiration can be drawn from anywhere and everyday life greatly influences her content.
Dr Onyii as she is fondly called has been to multiple countries around the world but she rates her first solo trip to Paris as “the trip that changed her life” because it exposed her to a whole new people and culture adding to the fact that this was the first time she was travelling unaccompanied.
“I feel like it was that trip that kind of changed my life because going to a foreign city where you don’t know anybody plus I don’t speak French and what I was taught in school here in Nigeria is a joke compared to the real deal.”
Speaking on travelling within and Africa, she says, “It’s unreasonably expensive to travel from Nigeria to say Zanzibar. I don’t think I would spend half the amount I would spend on that trip if I were travelling from Ukraine to Russia and that’s ridiculous.”
To her, content creation if properly promoted could boost the economy and increase tourism. She went on to affirm that social media is a very powerful tool and she recounted how her posts from different locations in Lagos would have people from around the world asking where she took the shot and to her if properly harnessed, content creation could definitely contribute to strengthening the economy.