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Confessions of a social media influencer

Imagine you’re in New York City, enjoying a hip-hop concert and getting paid to write about it. Forget the 8-to-5 grind and mediocre office coffee …your office is wherever there is Wi-Fi and a quiet place to flip open your laptop and start writing. Sometimes on the deck of a beach café in Miami or a villa in Thailand. This is Kwanele Kubheka’s real life.

At only 26 years old, Kwanele is a stay-at-home mother of four, a student and a successful social media influencer with a pretty impressive following. The wife of SMG BMW Durban corporate sales manager, Thabo Cele, Kwanele’s Instagram account boasts almost 65 000 followers and has seen her partnering with a wide range of top brands.
Asked what she does for a living, Kwanele says, “basically, I get paid to live my life and help companies advertise and market their brands.”

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Some people are sceptical as to whether this is really work, she says. “There is a belief that a job should be in an office with clearly defined roles and that anything else is not considered ‘real’ work. We are in 2020 and this needs to change. My job is real – and also hard work!”

She’s a busy mother to four children – Owethu, Kevin and Latoya, who are all six years old (two are from Thabo’s previous relationship and one is from Kwanele’s previous relationship), and her and Thabo’s newborn, Thingo, who is 12 weeks old. They also have a rottweiler, named Shadow.

Living by the motto, ‘do all things with kindness’, Kwanele says she found her voice in the social media space early in life.

“A small-town Newcastle girl trying to make it in the big city, I taught myself to believe that nothing was impossible. I always shared my life with everyone on my social media platforms and as I got older and life became more hectic, people started asking how I did it all – being married at a young age, four kids and running a busy household. I think this is how I gained more followers … people wanting to see the ins and outs of my life and me simply being me.”

With influencer marketing a growing trend, more and more brands are on the hunt for partnerships with influencers to market products and services to loyal followings with targeted demographics. It is this word-of-mouth validation that leads to engagement and follower spikes on brands’ social pages.

“Influencer marketing is a two-sided business, with many influencers becoming equally as selective as brands when it comes to deciding whether a partnership is right for them and, more importantly, their audience. This process has been made a whole lot easier via The Humanz App (this is where it started for me) where you can cherry pick the brands you want to work with and place a bid. I’ve been fortunate to work with a host of incredible brands who are serious about working hard at growing and developing their digital community.”

With clients across the country, Thabo spends a great deal of time on the road, leaving Kwanele in charge of the kids around the clock. While she does have a helper, who she says keeps her sane, things do get pretty hectic around the house, and time out becomes a thing of dreams.

“Yes, we have four kids – but by choice. Thabo only had one older brother so he’s always wanted a large family, and I grew up in a full house with two brothers and two sisters. I remember how awesome it was to have a lot of siblings and how much laughter and love there was at home growing up, so I always knew that one day I wanted to have a big family of my own.”

Kwanele encourages others to find new opportunities by freeing themselves from their desks. She’s the first to admit that by following other people of influence and being willing to learn, aspiring social media influencers are headed in the right direction.

“Being authentic, consistent in what you post and matching the message to the proper network are key. When it comes to juggling a career and home life, I guess I’ve found a routine and balance. Even though Thabo travels a lot, he works incredibly hard to provide for us, and when he’s home, he is attentive and incredibly supportive, which makes life a whole lot easier for me. Thabo’s mom is also a huge part of our lives, and the kids absolutely love her.”

When it comes to family getaways, Kwanele says these are usually saved for the end of the year, and they love to go international!

“With my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s Eve all falling in one month, we like to make the most of it. While my ideal holiday destination for 2020 would have been Santorini Greece, due to the pandemic we’ll be staying local and exploring SA. I’d love to visit The Kruger National Park as a family!”

As for Christmas gifts, Kwanele says, “is it too soon to ask for another baby? Just kidding! As much as this has been a tough year for everyone, God has blessed us with the most beautiful, healthy baby girl. Having suffered two miscarriages last year, she truly is all we could have asked for to make our family complete.”
On Christmas Eve, the kids write wish list letters to Santa (with mom and dad’s help of course) and they leave some milk and cookies under the tree. Christmas Day is usually spent at Kwanele and Thabo’s home, cooking up a storm and then indulging with family and close friends. “We believe Christmas is all about family, reflecting on the year gone by, talking about challenges and giving thanks for successes, good fortune and beautiful memories.”

Details: Follow Kwanele on Instagram: fafa_kubheka

Photos: Penny Katz Photography, pennykatzphotography.myportfolio.com,
[email protected], 083 214 0692 | Dress: thamakadesigns (Instagram) | Hair and makeup: prettybeatssa (Instagram) | Venue: Ammazulu African Palace www.ammazulupalace.com

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