Cape Town - 160413 - Kiernan Jarryd Forbes, better known by his stage name AKA, is a South African hip hop recording artist originally from Cape Town. AKA visited the SAE Institute Cape Town in Woodstock to talk to the students there. Reporter: Robin Henney Picture: David Ritchie

Johannesburg - So how do you get a million followers on Twitter?

The answer is simple, says hip hop sensation AKA: it's all about “keeping it real”.

This week, AKA, whose real name is Kiernan Forbes, became the first South African musician with a Twitter following of one million.

Asked what distinguishes his Twitter account from those of other musicians in the country, he says it is “authenticity”.

“I think many people hide behind their Twitter accounts. For example, some people are gangster on social media and bullied in real life, or whatever it is. What you see on my social media pages is what it is with me in real life.”

Forbes is way ahead of his fellow rappers when it comes to followers on social media.

AKA’s rival, Cassper Nyovest, has 555K followers, while Kwesta, whose track Ngud' is the song being played most often on radio, has 191K. Relative newcomer Emtee, who is also venturing into the acting world, is gaining ground, with 63K followers.

Asked how important social media is to his brand, AKA says it is a “powerful tool”, but not the most important.

”As a musician, it is great to see how much my fan base and my following have grown.

“Being the first South African musician to cross the one million mark is an honour and I'm sure I won't be the last. It's also important to remember that the number one priority is good music - without that, nothing would happen. It's not about followers, it's about the fans.”

AKA says he uses Twitter every day to interact with his fans and keep them in the loop about his upcoming projects and new music.

“I use it daily. If you go on to my Twitter page you will see the engagement between me and the fans. I tweet them, retweet them and all.”

While AKA acknowledges that social media are a powerful tool, he knows there is a nasty side.

From time to time he receives abusive tweets, he says.

“Those negative people and haters don't bother me any more. At one time they used to, but the only people I need advice from or need to hear anything from are those who enjoy the music.”

AKA says he alone runs his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“That is why they attract so many followers. I have mastered the tactic.”

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Saturday Star