SMWLagos2017: $10b is the difference between Sango and Thor

Organisers of the Social Media Week, which ended in Lagos recently. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

The Social Media Week Lagos in its fifth year was held from Monday, the 27th of February to Friday, the 3rd of March 2017. As it has become the tradition, people (Nigerians, Africans and Westerners) thronged the sprawling venue to familiarise themselves with or update their knowledge of all things social media, ICT and the internet of things.

Corporations had their colourful booths and stands, all jostling for the attention of mobile delegates who were either networking, catching up with contemporaries, typing away on keyboards at designated workstations and the media (Nigerian, African and Western media) looking for and interviewing participants and speakers.

For the few days, I attended Social Media Week Lagos 2017 with the hashtag #SMWLagos and sitting in at some of the sessions to listen to the panellists, I could deduce that #SMWLagos is a convergence where one can get carried away by the speeches and not act or utilise information garnered. Or, one can listen attentively and intently and pick up salient points which broaden one’s horizons and can elevate one’s expertise or craft, when implemented or executed.

Several panellists from the Government and corporate worlds graced the two main platforms (innovation and experience stages). But what I found most interesting was that the ICT tools or rather apps which were the currency in early 2016 during #SMWLagos have either fallen by the wayside or have evolved and gotten better.

As the Facebook’s COO for products spoke during the first session titled “The Future of Media” hosted by Facebook Africa. Mr Cox posited about personalising live stream using Facebook via a mobile phone. How right was he? The apps gaining currency in 2017, were not that influential in 2016; a year which had apps like HootSuite, Agora Pulse, EveryPost, Bit.ly, SocialBro, Buffer, to name but a few.

In 2017, Snaplytics, Adobe Spark, Yala, Intellifluence and especially Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope are tools that are already making inroads and would make inroads.

Whilst these tools are being embraced and would still be embraced by Nigerians; Obi Asika, the founder of Social Media Week Lagos, during a panel session, elaborated on a vital point which Nigerians have not taken seriously from the business angle. He asked, what is the difference between Sango (who was a king in Yoruba land. He was a king in the old Oyo Empire and he was known as the king of thunder because when he was angry, he spat fire from his mouth) and Thor (who in Norse mythology is a hammer-wielding god synonymous with storms, thunder, lightning, strength etc). According to Mr Asika, the difference is $10Billion and Nigerians left Sango hanging.

Furthermore, global leaders are on social media and they interact with followers. Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame is one of such leaders who handles his Twitter account by himself and I have a personal story which occurred in December 2014 to attest to this.

Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just joined Twitter in early March and also has a huge following.
India’s foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is probably the most influential diplomat on Twitter and Indians in distress overseas usually tweet at her and she tweets back with the appropriate agencies’ Twitter handles, who go to work. Recently, an Indian captain onboard a ship stranded in war-torn Yemen, tweeted at her about the predicament of his crew and she went to work. Her tweets (commendations or criticism) can make or mar an organisation presence in India.

The comments by Mr Obi Asika at Social Media Week Lagos are self-explanatory. The tools are in your hands but would you (the reader) utilise and maximize these tools which have tremendous benefits economically, socially, public relations-wise and through soft diplomacy, to highlight and showcase Nigerian stories? I leave you to answer the question, fully aware that when #SMWLagos holds in 2018, new apps would be the newest currency; a feature now accepted as synonymous with the ever-evolving 21st Century.



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