How to monetise your influence, according to Sibu Mabena

In 2024, the digital economy has reached its peak, and influencers have learned that their personal brand has “untapped potential”.

According to Momentum, insurance giant, the value of influencer marketing was a staggering $16.4-billion in 2022.

Speaking to an audience at the Momentum Science of Success Festival held in Johannesburg recently, Sibu Mabena, shared tips on how to become a successful influencer and make a few extra bucks.

Appealing to “would-be” side hustlers, small business owners, SMMEs and entrepreneurs, the Science Of Success Festival was a day of inspirational presentations and master classes on growing wealth in a variety of ways.

Becoming a social media influencer has proved to be extremely lucrative whether you are a celebrity or a previously unknown personality who has carved out a niche for themselves by promoting sponsors’ products and services.

Mabena, founder and chief creative officer of the Duma Collective, an event production and sponsorship acquisition agency, said to be defined as an online persona or brand an influencer needs to “stand for something”.

Mabena, 26, confidently said that influencers should go on a journey of self-discovery, find what you like and what you want to be known for.

According to Momentum and Unisa’s SMME and Side Hustle Insights Report, the top five needs of small businesses are continuous learning, marketing strategies, funding or access to capital, expansion opportunities and access to market and clients.

Mabena’s masterclass on how to be a “Money Making Influencer” definitely delivered on the first two along with invaluable tips on how to identify, appeal and pitch to one’s market. Mabena’s toolkit for influencers provided all the food for thought and information needed for anyone in the audience to launch their online careers.

Mabena shared the following tips:

How many followers does an influencer need?

Influencers are tiered as:

  • Nano with one to 10 000 followers;
  • Micro with 10 000 to 100 000 followers;
  • Macro with 100 000 up to one million followers; and
  • Mega with one million+ followers

They can qualify to represent a brand with as few as 1,000 followers if they have a high level of engagement as well.


 Know your audience

Knowing your target audience, demographics and most appropriate platform to reach them is essential when establishing yourself as a social media influencer, as well as being able to provide analytics from each platform.

  • WhatsApp is the most used social media platform at 93% usage
  • Facebook 83%, this is where you get to know your audience and create a community
  • Instagram 70.5%, for stories and paid promotions
  • TikTok 60.3%. 

Don’t be pressurised into becoming a Tik-Toker, if you’re not comfortable with this medium, X is a place simply to “post and go” and is more conversational than visual.

“Being an influencer is a business,” says Mabena, “requiring as much thought as any other”.

 What do you need to portray and convey as an influencer?

Being authentic, representing values to which followers can relate will solidify your position as a brand representative with a product whose values align with your own.

Keep your bio short but tell your story

Use your real name in there somewhere, not just your social media handle

Don’t be afraid to use emojis

Have a call to action and a link to your website

The Pitch

Most brands prefer you to have a business, rather than personal account profile and make sure you have a professional email address

Research the brand you are pitching to and ensure that what you represent aligns with their messaging

Make sure your pitch is flawless and has no typos or spelling mistakes

Set your rates and be realistic about expected engagement levels, impressions, click throughs and ultimate conversion rates which will give the client the maximum return on their investment (ROI)


Becoming a money-making influencer is within the realm of possibility for anyone who puts in the effort, creates a credible biography and brand identity of their own, produces quality content with excellent visuals and can prepare a professional pitch or proposal.

“Success is a science for which there is a formula when it comes to social media influencers,” concluded Mabena.

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