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.