Ayeni with Ized

Arraying personal charisma and an entertaining style, each speaker at a recent training on deploying social media tools to develop individual businesses and the media industry’s collective growth fired the imagination of participants. Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports

Not a few expected the day to end with some sort of entertainment, hopefully, musical performance. This hope was not totally misplaced. It would be true to character if it happened. Similar events linked to him in the past like the Nigeria Entertainment Conference climaxed with a show. It wasn’t all talk. There was always the opportunity for some play. And it looked like there would be some kind of performance at this one, as well. Having worked so hard to make himself and (some of) his businesses top-of-mind in the entertainment industry, it wasn’t a bad guess to think the training session organized by Ayeni Adekunle’s Blackhouse Media and supported by his other companies, Plaqad, ID Africa and the NETng would dovetail to some kind of entertaining display.

The subject may not have explicitly suggested this. There was no ambiguity in the invitation. The offer was for a ‘Social4Media’ Masterclass. In fairness to the organisers, the 10-person faculty was composed of individuals with diversified background. However, with 50 per cent of them operating in the entertainment sector, the bias weighed heavily in favour of those in show business. Although, there are arguments that social media can be deployed to enhance information and business in all walks of life, the reality of the Nigerian, and perhaps, global situation is that social media is frequently used by people in the entertainment industry.

Virtual communities and platforms became a strong habit in Nigeria about seven years ago. Some participants at the training became masters at their game as early as three years ago. This confession was made by Ized Uanikhehi, Social Producer, CNN who is still trying to comprehend the fame and multiple stream of income from her engagement on social media platforms. Perhaps, owing to the compelling need to keep up appearances, personalities in the entertainment and ancillary sectors appear to imbibe the social media convention more. The faculty at the Social4Media Masterclass had the likes of rapper and entertainment entrepreneur, Jude ‘MI’ Abaga who now runs Chocolate City Records, Tosin Ajibade, founder of Olori Supergal and covener of New Media Conference; actor, businessman and comedian, Ali Baba Akpobome, Osagie Alonge, editor-in-chief of Pulseng and comedian and actor, Kunle Idowu, better known as Frank Donga.

To strike a good balance, facilitators from other sectors like civil society and governance represented by Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough-is-Enough, Tomiwa Aladekomo, MD of Ventra Media Group, the vendor that is helping to change the face of one of Nigeria’s leading publications to bring it up to speed with digital reality, John Adewusi, founder of Funny Africa, a platform that aggregates comic content, Femi Falodun, COO of ID Africa, a digital marketing and digital content provider company and Ized. All the speakers alluded to the fact that they may not necessarily be better than or have superior knowledge over the participants, but that they were willing to share knowledge and experiences. This trend was set by Falodun who opened the discourse with his presentation titled, ‘Getting Started on Social’. The speakers after him followed that style.

In his opening remark, Adekunle had stated he had a burden to educate everyone on the changing media landscape. He said, “We are going to do our best to train as many people as we can, as often as we can, so we can all build the future together. Journalism is under economic threat globally and in Africa. Technology, which disrupted traditional media in many ways, offers an opportunity to reclaim control and innovate. The desire to have our industry understand and exploit these opportunities gave birth to Social4Media. The Social4Media Training is a workshop to help reporters, bloggers, editors, PR executives and other professionals who work in media to better understand the relevance of social tools, and how to use them.”

He further said that Social4Media has been introduced as a “system that periodically provides an opportunity for Nigerian media industry professionals to learn and share on an ongoing basis, in order to develop individual businesses and the industry’s collective growth.”

Over 70 media professionals gathered at Protea Hotel, Ikeja GRA, Lagos for the full day workshop.
The invite-only masterclass, which had over 300 registrations online, aims to help media and communication professionals get the best value out of their businesses by providing tools and techniques needed to develop effective strategies, increase platform traffic, improve reach, interpret data analytics, create, distribute and monetize content, among others.

As a major goal of the training was to teach participants how to make money from their engagement on social media platforms, every speaker touched on the subject. Falodun summarized his presentation into the acronym, SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based. According to him the simple objective of every business should be SMART. Ized taught on ‘Growth Hacking Techniques’, meaning “marketing techniques which uses creativity, analytical thinking and social matrix to sell products.” Ali Baba struck a chord in many when he said that he was drawn to social media to engage the emerging market, the existing market and the people who make the market thrive. According to him, “I make it clear when I went on social media that people I engage with must be those who can add value. The things and the people you allow into your social media space will affect you; so do not be afraid to block people who do not add value to you.”

Aladekomo emphasized that social media is a business and must be treated as such. “It is better to identify a niche and not a mass market.” This understanding was echoed by Ajibade. She said, “You can never be like me. Find your space. We are not the experts people make of us. We are constantly learning. I do a lot of reading online.” Adewusi warned that things are very fluid in the social media space. Adamolekun said her organization was born of the first protest which was live streamed and leveraged on social media, celebrities and influencers. Alonge harped on the usefulness of data. In order to create amazing content that should be monetized, you must be analytical, he said.

Abaga’s presentation was anchored on two pillars, integrity and value. According to him, “the medium will change but the story will remain the same. Donga said there is a message in every content that he creates. He, therefore, emphasized the importance to engage with fans and followers on social media.

Many left the training with a resolute commitment to deploy social media tools to improve on their job performance.