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How can social media proliferation in Nigerian and the digital community play a critical role in telling the Nigerian story?

Posted on: August 28th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Thanks for accepting to be a part of this Octagon Room.

How can social media proliferation in Nigerian and the digital community play a critical role in telling the Nigerian story?

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Taslim: I’m Taslim. Ex-Googler & Digital Marketer. Runs a talent-focused digital consultancy where I build people to grow businesses. Interests include but not limited to digital education, startups, Africa and Jollof. *Nigerian jollof to be precise. 😁

Osaretin: I’m Chief Osaretin. Graphics Designer, Brand Developer, Photographer & Creative Director for Jonathan Cole.

Peace: Hi Everyone, I’m Peace Itimi. Digital Marketer, Google Digital Skills Trainer and Co-founder of Rene Digital Hub.

Chuka: Hey Everyone, Chuka Ekeledo – I head up Astract9: a budding digital agency with strong tenets in data driven marketing. Head up Redux, the digital arm of Red Media & Whogohost Biz growth – a SME-centric web solutions service.

Genevieve: Hello everyone…. I’m Genevieve Craig, Digital Media Consultant and Creative Writer.

Damilola: Hello everyone, I’m Damilola Oshifowora. Social Media Manager and Marketer and a budding brand communicator.

Petra:  Hi, I’m Petra. Marketing and communications officer at Junior Achievement Nigeria.

Joyce: I am Joyce Imiegha, I am an entrepreneur and an idealist (sometimes). I am a digital marketer and a business development lead at René digital hub.

The Octagon: Within the last decade Nigeria has witnessed a massive spread in the use of smartphones and PC’s, coupled with the ease of access to internet data and an ever increasing mobile network coverage. It’s no more a strange sight to see primary school children with internet enabled phones or tablets, neither is it a rarity to encounter grandparents connected to their families via Facebook or WhatsApp, even those in the rural areas have not been left behind in this digital race especially with the foray of affordable smartphones. Studies suggest that when Nigerians go online (predominantly with their mobile phones) they spend much of their time on social media platforms (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on).

According to premium times, at least 7.1 million people use Facebook daily in Nigeria, making the country Africa’s biggest user of the social media platform. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is ranked 10th on the list of world’s top internet users, according to eMarketer; with 57.7 million users at the end of 2014, which is predicted to rise to 84.3 million by 2018. Social media platforms have proven to be an effective market to reach out to target audience as popular brands, organizations, celebrities, the media and even politicians have taken advantage to improve on their presence, brand and products.

Do you think our country Nigeria can take advantage of digital media to improve global perception?

Chuka: First off, great statistics – I’m definitely going to use it in my next pitch. Second, personally yes I think we can take advantage but are these people online interested in improving the global perception or they just want to have fun?

I like this term “good use” but my question is how we can control the narrative because from my time online – a lot of people aren’t putting their digital activities to good use but more to vanity.

Petra: Is the perception on a local or national scale a positive one? Very many Nigerians don’t believe in the brand Nigeria. While a few others do, they are ashamed to show that they to show that they do

Damilola: Yes we can. In fact we have already started taking advantage of digital media. With the likes of Osa7 for Microsoft and The rise to fame of Olajumoke the bread seller. I think we just need to focus on making positive perception.

Taslim: Interesting stats there. Yes, we can definitely improve global perception by harnessing the advantages of digital media.

The internet provided us with more channels to be able to connect with one another as well as more platforms to solve solutions. For instance, Facebook which started as a social media (for connecting people) has become an entire ecosystem (a mashup of different tools and platforms). This simply means you can do more things with your regular Facebook account. I think it starts with driving awareness through social media which is already happening. But we need to do more to ensure that the youth are keyed into the good use of these channels.

Joyce: We can, if we are willing to. Generally, I think the average Nigerian has a nonchalant attitude towards the maintaining a good perception of the nation globally.

Peace: Most definitely we can and I think we are already doing so. All it takes to change the global perception of a person or a brand or in this case a country, is to promote online the creative and positive things about us. The more we drive (and promote) conversations, innovations and talents of Nigerians, the more world sees us differently.

Taslim: To control the narrative, we need to engage influencers and make them the face of the movement. Influencers in different industries from music to tech to government are the ones who control this narrative.

Peace: I totally agree with this.

Joyce: Well said

Damilola: This is true. We’d need to tell untold stories that will shape the perception of Nigeria on a global scale.

Genevieve: Yes, most definitely. Let’s look at the country as if it was a brand. The key to brand management is telling a great story about the brand concerned. Nigeria has many stories which have been untold… Most of them have been either forgotten or taken for granted. Digital media creates so many avenues to recreate the image of Nigeria both within the country (to us Nigerians) and globally.

Peace: To control the narrative, influencers in different sectors would need to come into play.

Genevieve: True. The average Nigerian doesn’t have a sense of pride when it comes to a lot of things concerning the country.  How do we begin to shape the minds of citizens to have a sense of national pride? Every industry has a part to play.

Chuka: But again, this is a bit superficial because anyone who is willing to look beyond the surface will see that uncouth nature of the average Nigerian through their commentary

Petra: I think we should resell Nigeria to Nigerians.

 Chuka: I think this should be the foundation of any branding effort. First shaping the mindset of the Nigerian, and that it is very hard for a country that has failed its citizens again and again. That is the core of the problem is how Nigerians think. If you can change how a man thinks, you can change the world.

Damilola: Yes. A country is its citizens though.

The Octagon:  A lot has been expressed, what do you think is responsible for the poor image of the country in spite of the great stories beginning to emerge.

Taslim: Bad media. We don’t blow our whistle enough when we do the good things. We end up getting popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine the people we see as role models are uncouth, would we be otherwise? If all Wizkid and Davido uses Twitter for is beef, how do you expect their fans (who run into millions btw) to behave online? I still believe influencers have a lot to do with how we appear online. Celebrities beef everywhere are not helping matters. Another example is the way celebrities show off wealth. It has affected the average Nigerian to think the measure of happy living is how many notes of Naira you can display on Instagram. Same also goes to musicians singing about internet fraudsters. All of this come into play when we start to measure our global perception from the digital angle. I think the influencers across industries have a big role to play in that.

Damilola: Misrepresentation and misuse of digital media platforms.

Petra: We must take it beyond Jollof rice wars.

Genevieve: It’s largely related to governmental issues

Osaretin: The average Nigerian youth have not been able to take their eyes off “music and yahoo x2” as a means of making it. Yes there are other great ways to make money and we have amazing examples. Government is not the problem here.

Petra: One good impression if Nigeria that I believe digital media has helped established is our resilience.

Peace: The fact that an average Nigeria would rather tweet about how Buhari is not doing anything and how the country is Trash rather than celebrate the amazing success stories and little victories we have.

Petra: I agree however, in terms of place public relations which takes us back to branding the nation. Consider some parts of the UAE for instance. If not for branding and publicity through traditional and digital media, who really goes on vacation in a desert.

Joyce: First, the leadership. The reaction towards the poor conditions/corruption of/in the country. The poor moral standards and mindset of citizens. The things we report/post on social media/the internet. The sad impression internet fraudsters have established for us.

Damilola: Plus Nigerians have been stereotyped and we’re playing into these stereotypes.

The Buy Nigeria Conversation

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by The Moderator 2 Comments

Welcome To The Octagon. 

The Octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end at 5pm (1 Hour). We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.  Let’s begin with introductions. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?  

Ofili: I’m Okechukwu Ofili, a multipotentialite Addicted to Truth and Allergic to Bullshit! Founder ofilispeaks.com and okadabooks.com. Author of 4 funny books

Bolaji: My name is Bolaji Iwayemi and I’m the Marketing Team lead for Paga, Nigeria’s No.1 payments company.

Daniel: Hi, I’m Daniel Emeka … Digital and Marketing communications| Rookie Tech Entrepreneur.

Gbadebo: Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour – Architect and Creative director for Literati clothing.

Lolade: My name is Lolade Fadoju. I work within Digital Marketing for GTBANK and Head the SME MarketHub. It’s a pleasure to meet you all

The Octagon: Thank you for the introductions.

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than a nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

Senator Ben Bruce recently started the #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign. 

In his words, “Obviously we cannot cut ourselves off from the world. No nation is an island, but at least we can fly Nigerian airlines, eat locally produced food and patronise our football league. If we do this, not only will our economy grow and produce jobs for Nigerians, it will also make our goods and services improve in value such that they will be attractive enough to be imported.”

Understanding the need for Local content, Should we be creating localized versions of international businesses winning the Nigerian market.? How can we get Nigerians more comfortable with Buying Local and appreciating local businesses? 

Bolaji: Quality plays a huge part in buying Nigerian. No matter how much I love my country I will not excuse mediocrity. Another issue is the fact that little to no manufacturing occurs in Nigeria. So when we “buy Nigeria” are we actually buying Nigerian.

Gbadebo: Currently a £20 pound T-shirt now costs 10k. I think at the rate we are going it would no longer be a question of making people comfortable. It would be people actively looking for substitutes. The onus would be on the makers to be able to fill that gap.

Bolaji: @Gbadebo very true but we need to change your perceptions first.

Daniel: Understanding the consumer and insights that drive their purchase behavior  is key creating good enough content for them to buy. I started www.ethnikcity.com on the premise that, a lot of Nigerians complain about failed processes when dealing with Nigerian artisans and manufacturers.

Ofili: But can they? Is the Government doing enough to help us grow. Doing business in Nigeria is very hard. Legal Taxes are high and illegal taxes are higher aka omo nile.

Bolaji: @Ofili how do we by-pass the govt and “create our own destinies”?

Ofili: It’s difficult …with okadabooks we have minimum exposure to Government. We are a software, and our office exists in the cloud. But for manufacturing businesses it is difficult. I watched my Dad become a shell of himself trying to run a plastic company in Nigeria as an honest man. It killed him. The government took everything he had and gave him nothing. No light no power nothing. So it’s hard. Lindaikeji can thrive because it’s software same with Bellanaija. But when you start manufacturing physical products it’s impossible to dodge the government.

Bolaji: The cost of 3D printing is dropping. Imagine your Dad could running his company at about half the cost. For food and some elements of clothing “buy Nigeria” is very alive.

Ofili: Agreed. But you still have to deal with Government regulations. You have to transport. You need power. They will tax you etc. In the US you get tax breaks as a business. In Nigeria you get broken by taxes.

Bolaji: There are tax breaks in Nigeria. Pioneer status entitles you to 4 years without paying income tax

Ofili: Can you explain that term “pioneer status” I am not familiar with it.

Bolaji: Pioneer status – you’ve created something new in the market

Daniel: Nigerians will not buy from you because you are Nigerian. They will buy because your product feels a void. But from a branding perspective … the #BuyNaija causes trials. Retention is now what your product and service gives you.

Gbadebo: I think we need to separate consumers. The mass market does not care too much about where things are made. Mr Ofili wrote a brilliant piece about made in Aba once. There was a time that the made in Nigeria perception was a positive one.

The Octagon: Until recently when it became harder to purchase imported brands, it was difficult for Nigerian businesses to develop products to compete with these brands. The competition did gave them little or no chance to break in. If dollar rates where low how do we still convince the populace that buy Nigeria is important. Or this conversation only important for tough times.

Bolaji: This is a very good point because once FX stabilizes people will go back to foreign products.

Ofili: Buy Nigeria is key and logical. It’s just that the quality has been lacking. I printed books in Nigeria and now I give them out for free because the print quality was bad.  But hopefully companies like Printivo can break that cycle.

Gbadebo: Currently to stem the effects foreign exchange has on our business we have localized our production, especially the labor-intensive parts. Another thing to consider is the huge margins one can make by earning foreign currency with sales to the International  Diaspora.

Bolaji: The Government has a very important role to play to create a conducive environment to manufacture locally.

Ofili: I don’t think so. If the quality is good people will buy Nigeria. It’s quality. How do we get quality.  A handy man has done the same job in my house 2 times, each time it was poor. If we somehow get our people to understand quality it will help. And I feel it starts with our universities and technical colleges. The quality disrespect starts at that level.

Bolaji: I was watching NARCOS and thought that the model used was great to bring in Forex but the product was wrong.

Lolade: I believe every individual plays a role, not just government. Consumers demand good quality and competitive pricing. For a long time, several businesses survived by importing top quality to feed local demand. Of course, this has become more challenging with USD hovering around N400 and GBP north of N500 (would be north of N600 if not for Brexit ). Because of this, we are noticing some new trends with businesses trying to circumvent the FX challenge.

1) Some are importing MORE from other markets outside of the US and UK (eg, China, India, Canada, Turkey, Middle East).

2) Some are trying to start producing and sourcing locally.

Unfortunately, as everyone would agree, manufacturing is a major challenge. Seems a little like a chicken and egg problem, but my conscience still pricks me to support Nigerian businesses because I believe it is for the greater good. This means sometimes I will have stones in my rice or even a roughly finished seam in my clothing. But for me it is an ethical decision.

Bolaji: Very well said. However, Quality is relative. A brand like Polo by Ralph gives a distinct experience that no local brand can give.

Ofili: The other thing I see is that a lot of businesses look to create products for Lagos and not Nigeria. So the quality products are priced and branded for one market.

Gbadebo: What we did in our case was we set up a 5 month experimental phase, sourcing the fabrics washing and testing them, then doing several samples until the tailors stepped up to the quality of finishing we expect. It is a costly process but we also have to consider that the quality of finishing and workmanship is a direct reflection of the ‘anyhow-ness’ that pervades our society…and most Nigerians don’t actually see what we call poor finishing as normal. It’s

Bolaji: Hmmm research and development. Something that’s lacking here. Well done

Gbadebo: That’s what we did I don’t think it applies to every sector, but that was a solution in ours. Another thing is to go out of your comfort zone, I got that advice from The Octagon actually. So we went to ikorodu to set up.

Lolade: There is a woman by the name of Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. She runs a company called Sole Rebels based out of Ethiopia. She has been used as a case study by the global trade community for her role in ethical manufacturing. She sells shoes that are made by marginalized communities in Ethiopia. Her products retail at Urban Outfitters in the US. Guess what…people buy them not because the finishing is perfect, but because they understand that there is an ethical obligation to supporting developing economies

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The Brand Ambassador / Influencer Dilemma

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by The Moderator 8 Comments

 

Welcome to The Octagon.

See the profile of our guests in this Octagon room conversation

The Octagon: Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do? Thank you

Bayo: Good Afternoon People. I am Bayo Omishore. I write seldom.

Wale: My name is Wale Adetula (call me Tula). I’m the founder and CEO of thenakedconvos.com (Nigeria’s largest open digital publishing platform).

Toks: Hello people. I’m Ola-tokunbo. I’m a creative and a brand person.

Eddie: I’m Eddie Madaki, publicist and Marketing communications practitioner.  I work with iBlend Services/ EddieMPR IMC.

Eze: Hello all! My name is Ezegozie Eze, brand and content developer, specifically entertainment & lifestyle brands.

Chuka: Hi Everyone. I’m Chuka Obi, ECD at DDB Lagos

Tayo: Hi everyone, my name is Tayo. I work as a digital strategist with Ogilvy One.  I’m the founder of Isten Digital, recruitment and training in digital marketing. Partially into photography

The Octagon: Ground rules for branding are rapidly evolving.   Social media, content marketing, the younger generation, second screening, thought-leadership and the demographic shift are just some of the many things that are pushing brands to think differently. Customers want to identify with a brand they can grow with, that earns their trust and makes them feel valued. As a result, today’s competition among brands to capture the attention and hearts of their audience is really tough and challenging. This has forced so many organisations to adopt certain approaches to engage their market to transact with them. One of this approaches is the use of brand ambassadors and influencers.  Do you think that brand ambassadors truly help these brands and businesses grow , create greater sales and equity? What is wrong with way brands are going about this?

Wale: I don’t think brand ambassadors have helped a lot of the brands that have gone that way here in Nigeria and it’s mostly down to the reason why they made the decision in the first place. You just mentioned how the ground rules of branding/marketing is continuously evolving. Marketing needs to be way more intelligent nowadays and not based on emotions or who the MD of a particular organization likes or doesn’t. However, I think it is important to note that most of the success stories aren’t particularly exceptional cases. Signing on a brand ambassador so you can gain rights to his music (at a cheaper rate) is a no-brainer. And most of the so called success stories fall in this space.

Toks: I think the bitter pill most of us brand people who know, without a doubt, that the brand owners are going about brand ambassador-ship wrong is that it’s actually working for a few of these brands. Where the real issue is is that, a strategy works for company A and companies B, C and D rush to get on that bandwagon, regardless of whether it fits their brand or not.

Tayo: I agree with Toks. I think that brand ambassadors and influencers have their place in marketing. However, it’s the use of these resources that determine how useful they are to the brand. Brands do not really do brand fit. They just randomly pick people. I believe that ambassadors are mostly for awareness while influencers are for conversions.

Toyosi: Marketing has to evolve with the rest of the world and whether we like it or not using celebrities/influencers (real and imagined) is part of that evolution. People now use Instagram comedians eg I am Kanmi that was just mentioned as MCs for their shows because they know they can pull the crowd they want.

Bayo: I’ll speak from the perspective of a consumer who just so happens to have worked with a number of entertainment brands and say No. In the first instance, I question if the brand managers on the side of the product understand their own product enough to find a music brand that sufficiently mirrors their brand. For the sake of synergy. Or perhaps they sacrifice that on the altar of making a quick buck by hiring the guy that can attract the highest number of coins they can take a nice slice off.

Eddie: Bayo, I beg to differ. Most consumers purchases are won on an emotional level and the right influencer actually wins a larger market share for the product owner IF he/she has the ears,eyes and hearts of the target market the client is looking to penetrate. Now unfortunately since its the trend most agencies just pick anyone for personal/sentimental reasons and that’s when such campaigns are not effective. But if Brand influencer to market segment is a perfect fit, the campaign will work. And it’s cost effective and cuts across most media channels making for a much more organic way to connect with consumers

Bayo: That’s idealistic Eddie. What’s happening in reality is different. The question is, are mothers buying Pampers because of Tiwa? Or Pepsi because of Wizkid?

Wale: hahaha… Or are they even buying at all ?

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