Big Brother Naija as an Influencer Machine

Big Brother Naija as an Influencer Machine

Late nights, premium entertainment, lots of social media conversations, memes and new fan bases are at least five things fans have come to expect as each new season of the Big Brother Naija begins.

Very few talent discovery platforms in the world have the reach Big Brother Naija does, and even fewer of them provide the instant stardom that the show offers to its participants. For many of the show’s 40 million-plus viewers, each season begins a new cycle of following a random person’s journey to fame for the 10-week period of the show and continuing even after the show ends.

Right from the housemate unveiling, BBNaija housemates experience a rise in the number of people who follow them on social media, and engage with whatever content their handlers put out. As the show proceeds, these fans grow, often based on the activities of each of the housemates and become the deciding factor in who wins on the show. After the show ends, the power of these fans extend to every other aspect of the housemates’ lives.

The last three seasons of the Big Brother Naija show have come with a new feature where fans of each housemate not only canvass for votes, hold rallies or sponsor gifting sessions, but actively band under a fan club name, with hashtags and symbols that act as identifiers online.

The fourth season of the show birthed the popular Titans and Mercenaries groups, who were succeeded by the Icons and Elites from the fifth season and then the WhiteMoney Geng, Lions and many more fan groups from the Shine Ya Eye Season. While most of these groups form primarily as a result of shared interests and to support the housemates while on the show, they soon become the very first indication of the level of influence these housemates now hold.

Once the show ends, the impact of this new-found followership plays out in many different ways as the housemates begin to work on their personal projects and those of the brands who come knocking on their doors to work with them.

Season 5 housemate, Olamilekan ‘Laycon’ Agbeleshe, who with the backing of his ‘Icons’ fanbase won the Lockdown edition of the show with 60% of the votes cast for the finale, the highest ever recorded on the show, has continued to experience massive support outside the house from his fanbase, especially for his music. Since leaving the house, he has worked with numerous brands including OPPO, Orijin, GOtv and many more.

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In this era of influencer marketing, many brands see working with him as an opportunity to penetrate niche communities like his Icon fanbase where their marketing might not have been very effective, actively gaining reach and word-of-mouth from a respected voice within that niche, which can drive direct action.

Interestingly, this phenomenon has led 100% of current auditionees we surveyed to believe that BBNaija is a faster route to financial success than a 9-5 job given the popularity and the celebrity status it confers on them. This belief is further strengthened by the fact that they do not even need to win on the show to enjoy such star power as the likes of Ebuka, Bisola and many other housemates have proven.

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu

Ebuka who is arguably the most influential and successful contestant from the Big Brother Naija show enjoys a plethora of brand endorsements, TV hosting gigs and has been the host of the last 5 seasons of the BBNaija show, despite placing 8th in the very first season of the show back in 2006.

Since leaving the show, he has built a successful media career that has put him in the list of top TV show presenters and event hosts, based on his experience anchoring different TV shows, notably Rubbin Minds on Channels TV and hosting countless events for banks, alcohol beverage companies and many more. As the king of leverage which he has proven himself to be, his appearance in nicely tailored suits, elegantly made agbada and fun casuals every now and then, has made him a fashion influencer of sorts, with many men agreeing to taking style lessons from him.

With his hosting of the Sunday night eviction shows, he has continued to milk the BBNaija platform, often treating it as an opportunity to show off his style while fans stayed glued and tensed to see which housemate would be evicted. One of our respondents opined that; “He [Ebuka] has completely shattered the TV presenter mold; viewers look forward to the weekly Sunday Eviction shows to see who was getting kicked out, but also to see what Ebuka wore.”

When people audition for a spot on the Big Brother Naija show, it is a scenario like Ebuka’s they expect to get where they become stars with multiple brand ambassador deals, drive massive engagement online and are able to get their followers to take certain actions, mostly event sign-ups, product purchases and more.

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For brands who partner with the show and housemates from the show, the aim is almost the same, as they hope to get across to the fanbases that both the show and the individual participants have.

To better understand and put all of these into perspective, we ranked some of the Shine Ya Eye housemates using our social media influence ranking tool, SocialCred to see how much change appearing on the BBNaija show has brought to them.

Hazel Oyeze Onou “Whitemoney”

For winner Hazel Oyeze ‘WhiteMoney’ Onou, a healthy 1,339,490 Instagram followers and 11.73% engagement rate earns him the rank of a Big Shot, same rank as the likes of Ebuka, Laycon and Bisola. First runner-up, Roseline ‘Liquorose’ Afije despite having almost 400,000 more followers on Instagram earns the Trend Setter rank because of her lower engagement rate of 1.71%. Pere Egbi enjoys a better engagement rate of 9.19% with his 731,944 followers, thus earning a Trend Setter rank as well. Cross who placed 4th from the Shine Ya Eye season has grown his Instagram following to almost 700k and maintains a 13.93% engagement rate with them to rank as a Trend Setter.

While these 4 housemates were all finalists, the likes of Yerins, who was the first to be evicted from the show still have a lot to offer in terms of influence, as his engagement rate of 4.4% and 279k followers can make a lot of difference in brand campaigns, especially seeing how well he tried to carve a unique niche for himself as a firm supporter of multipotentialite people.

For brands who choose to work with any of these housemates, they are automatically assured of good engagement for their brands which in turn becomes sales revenue and brand loyalty as long as the relationship with said housemate remains or product delivers on said promise, or at best, both!

Although no one can say for sure which of the housemates would become the most influential at the end of each Big Brother Naija season, there are often early signs that show who the favourites are. One of such pointers is the amount of interactions and mentions each housemate is able to drive.

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Maria Chike

Maria Chike Benjamin was touted by many as one of the possible Shine Ya Eye season finalists, given how many mentions she received in social media conversations for the 6 weeks she lasted on the show. For the first 14 days of her stay in the Big Brother Naija house, she was in the top 5 most talked-about housemates ranking as shown by ID Africa’s daily BBNaija Analytics. During that time, she was mentioned in a total of 1.2million social media posts.

Despite her eviction in the fifth week of the show, she continued to drive conversations on the show, with many remembering her for her acting skills as she executed the different special tasks given to her by Big Brother. With 860,790 Instagram followers to her name, a Trend Setter rank and an average 13.37% engagement rate, she is proof that even without winning on the show, or making the list of finalist, one can still make the most from the platform that the Big Brother Naija show presents.

One other way the BBNaija franchise has continued to show its influence on its young viewers and the rest of the country is in the number of narratives it continues to change about young people; how they live, fall in love and even make their living.

Every season of the show by offering a diverse group of housemates continues to fuel the Naija belief that just about anybody can make it. So many young Nigerians, as aspirational as they are, sometimes doubt the possibility of getting a big breakthrough very legitimate and honest means, but by seeing literally unknown people become overnight millionaires bearing the BBNaija star tag, they are able to believe once again that anything is possible.

66% of our respondents agree to this fact that the Big Brother Naija Show impacts youth culture in Nigeria, and they say that it not only influences things like fashion, music, dance and other artforms, but youth behaviour as well. All of these leave little room for doubt in the level of influence this show has.

To bank on the influence of the Big Brother Naija show is to bank on something with a ripple effect, that moves from the show to its viewers, who empower the show’s contestants to become voices strong enough to determine the actions of groups of people no matter how small.