Online marketing: Platform links businesses to influencers to boost sales


Twiva Chief Executive Officer Peter Kironji during an interview on February 01, 2024 at Kose Heights in Nairobi. PHOTO | BILLY OGADA | NMG

While studying for his undergraduate degree in software engineering in Toronto, Canada, Peter Kironji had a conversation with his doctor that opened his eyes to the lucrative influencer marketing space.

The doctor, Mr Kironji says, was perplexed by how his (doctor’s) fiancé was earning more than him through a working model called ‘influencer marketing’ that was barely understood by most people at the time.

The seed was sowed in Mr Kironji’s fertile mind. He dived full-throttle into researching the concept even as he continued his degree studies.

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when restrictions on movements were enforced, forcing people to shop online, Mr Kironji saw an opportunity to turn his research into a business.

He partnered with two others to create a platform to link influencing marketers to business owners in a win-win situation that would drive sales and earn marketers income.

Mr Kironji, who today sits as the CEO of the platform dubbed Twiva, says in the early days, it was nothing more than just a channel linking brands with relevant influencers for marketing purposes.

“We targeted the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as our go-to clients, but we realised that this category of businesses cares more about sales conversions than brand awareness,” states Mr Kironji.

“So we started to look at how to repurpose the platform to drive more value in this engagement and achieve sales conversions,” he says.

How it works

Merchants sign up on the website and upload listings of the products and services they intend to sell, just as in the conventional online marketplaces.

Influencers, also known as resellers in this case, are also required to sign up and create accounts. Once set, influencers can select the products they wish to sell and place them in their storefront, which acts as a mini-shop within the main platform. A unique link is then generated, which they can post on their various social media platforms to attract customers.

Once a buyer clicks on the inimitable link labelled ‘shop now”, they are directed to the specific influencer’s shopfront and the marketer is instantly paid as soon as the purchase process is concluded.

Mr Kironji states that there are no limitations as to who can be onboarded as an influencer, as the measure of effectiveness is based on volumes sold as opposed to other metrics such as size of followership on social networks.

“The first version of Twiva had a threshold of the followers you had to have but, in retrospect, those are vanity metrics to use in assessing influence. Today, we no longer care about the number of followers or how many platforms you have. The platform is open to anybody who believes they have influence and that they can monetise it by selling goods and services,” he says.

Shared value

The CEO describes the relationship between the set of the three actors involved in the network as a collectively beneficial one, noting that its nature and design ensures a fair game for all players.

On the one hand, he says, business owners are able to leverage the publicity created by the multitude of influencing marketers who post their products to spread general brand awareness at no cost, while on the other hand marketers get to generate income from their influencing power.

“This is the reason why it’s such a powerful platform; if you were to list a product and then it is selected by, say, 1,000 influencers and each influencer in Kenya today has an average of three social media platforms, that would mean that the product will be listed across 3,000 online shops at zero cost,” observes Mr Kironji.

Given that the businesses list products at wholesale pricing while the resellers push to customers at retail prices, the amount earned in the difference is split between Twiva and the marketer, with the firm pocketing 40 percent of the profit while the influencer takes home 60 percent.

Mr Kironji says that all accounts are immediately credited once the buyer submits the payment.

In assessing value to influencers, the CEO says the top earning marketer has made over Sh2 million cumulatively since the platform was set up, with average monthly earnings for each reseller ranging between Sh50,000 and Sh150,000.

Leveraging AI

Mr Kironji says the platform has deployed Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities to automate a number of processes, among them the sharing of influencer links on social platforms. He explains that with a single click of a button, marketers are able to push products across all platforms where they have a presence.

AI can also match influencer accounts with relevant products on the Twiva platform while powering the splitting of payable dues to the applicable accounts.

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