Ventures Interviews: Opeyemi Adeyemi Talks Social Media And Business In Africa [Ventures Africa]
(Ventures Africa Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) VENTURES AFRICA – Social media is rapidly ushering in a new era of opportunities globally; from cyberpreneurs, to a vast array of dollar spining bloggers, the opportunities it presents is fast trickling down to every doorstep in Africa, one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world, and the rapidly emerging continent is wasting no time in exploiting the abundant potentials of this internet-driven enabler.
Though Africa has failed to match the internet adoption of other pacesetters, with internet penetration still at a dire 18 percent, the continent has found fortune with mobile. Its mobile penetration rate is estimated to stand at 80 percent with growth expected to continue at 4.2 percent annually, according to TA Telecom’s Africa Telecom Market 2013 Report.
Apart from businesses using social media to expand growth, ingenious Africans are also leveraging on this platform to drive entrepreneurial brilliance, creating a class of businessmen we refer to as social media entrepreneurs. One of such is Opeyemi Joseph Adeyemi, a Nigerian economist and project manager whose love for social media and eye for opportunities inherent in it is now a social media entrepreneur. In a chat with Ventures Africa, Adeyemi shares his opinion about the growing phenomenon:
How do you perceive Social Media?
O.J. : Social media, to me, is a way of interacting with different people across the whole world. It allows me to create, share, and exchange information and ideas on a variety of online platforms and applications.
There is a popular notion that Social Media is limited to social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, BBM, etc. Social Media is bigger than that; Blogs, Online Video, Photo Sharing, Podcasting, and Presentation sharing are all types of Social Media. Many companies/organizations are yet to fully explore other areas of Social Media that can help promote their brands across the globe.
How important is social media to businesses in Africa?
O.J.: I believe that the importance of Social Media to businesses across Africa cannot be over-emphasized. It is very important, and presently, it is the cheapest and fastest means of reaching out to a large audience.
In what ways have Social Media fostered business growth in Africa?
O.J.: Social media is building bridges among various businesses across Africa and the whole world at large. This is due to its scale; the number of people joining one social media platform or another keep increasing daily, at a geometrical progression.
Social media is now a part of our daily routines. A friend of mine said; Social Media has become part of everyday life. I agree with that statement because people now say "good morning" to their virtual friends on social media before they say same to people living within their household.
Other ways Social Media is helping business growth in Africa is the fact that it allows you to connect virally and can also help drive action. For example, uploading a picture of the latest model of a car can make interested individuals leave whatever they are doing and go straight to a car shop to buy the car. This applies to other small businesses too; a tweet from a Shawarma shop's handle that reads; "Buy one Shawarma and get a complimentary fruity delivered to you at no cost" is likely going to propel you to order one. Due to Social Media's ability to drive traffic to website, so many big brands have now realized that it has become imperative for them to evolve a more comprehensive strategy on how they engage with their customers via Social Media.
Also, Social Media is helping companies manage their reputation; in times of crisis, companies now take to their social media platforms to clarify issues and reassure customers. This is known as damage control.
What Social Media networks do you use for business?
O.J.: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, BBM, Instagram and Youtube. I recently picked interest in Infographics; a picture they say is worth a thousand words.
How would you define a Social Media entrepreneur?
O.J.: I'd define a Social Media Entrepreneur as someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture around Social Media, using a range of platforms to promote or market other people's products and services for a fee.
Do you consider yourself a Social Media entrepreneur?
O.J.: Yes, I do. In 2012, I stopped using Social Media solely for passing time.
What brands or organisations have you worked for using Social Media?
O.J.: It will be hard to remember every one of them now; I have promoted quite a number of brands on Social Media, from small start-ups to international brands. I don't charge start-ups; I consult for them at no cost. Some of the brands I have promoted online are; Savethechildren, PATHS2, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), National Identity Card Management Commission (NIMC). And last year, I joined the NOIPolls Ltd team, No1 for country-specific polling services in the West-African region.
What is AdoptATweep?
O.J.: Adopt means; adding a tweep. Tweep refers to a Twitter user. Our events, specifically targeted at the use of twitter for business, networking, marketing, Social Good and Branding for creative folks are aimed at empowering people to create brands that will attract attention on Twitter. Our main event gathers young entrepreneurs and creative artists, to learn twitter growth secrets at no cost. My colleague and friend, Nnodim Blossom, came up with the idea of AdoptATweep™ and trusted me with it (she still does LOL!).
AdoptATweep started through our passion about young people and how Social Media can be transformed as a development tool and have since grown into a team of 9 dedicated and passionate young men and women. We collaborate with International organizations to curate events in Nigeria, for example; the 2013 Social Good Summit (SGS Abuja) was hosted by AdoptATweep. Also, on the 8th of May this year, we are going to curate the first ever Plus Social Good event in Nigeria, with the theme; Africa Now +SocialGood: Technology| Entrepreneurship| Inclusive Growth.
What impact has it had on Social Media usage?
O.J.: We receive daily feedback from attendees and people following us on Twitter (@Adoptatweep). Sometimes, people who had never visited Twitter attend our event and by the time they are leaving, they would not only own a Twitter-handle but also a good number of followers, because we make sure attendees follow one another on Twitter during the course of the event.
Right now, Adoptatweep is known as the foremost and largest offline social media event in Abuja, Nigeria.
What future do you think Social Media holds for business in Africa?
O.J.: In the nearest future, I see more companies expanding their business strategies to accommodate social media strategies, by using social media as a tool, not only for digital marketing but also to engage more effectively with their African consumer target market. Social media has come to stay, although platforms will come and go.
What would you estimate the worth of the burgeoning Social Media industry in Africa?
O.J.: Well, in terms of Scale; there's a very high amount of traffic across the various social media platforms. For example, African users on Facebook are about 44.9 million, and this number keeps increasing every minute. Even though a good number of people are making money via digital marketing on Social media, what I'll like is for Africa to have its own social network, just like Asia's WEChat which is already competing with Facebook in terms of number of users.
I don't see anything that is stopping an African from creating a platform like Facebook, imagine if we all get on this platform and network, foreign Brands will have to pay to advertise on this platform in order to reach us. The good part; the money stays here, in Africa.
As of now, the only type of social media we have tried to own and adapt to our own context is blogging, and kudos to Africans who have taken blogging to a whole new level. I salute them because I understand how much commitment it requires. I have a personal blog that I haven't updated in months, no time.
Do you think it is phasing out traditional forms of marketing and advertising?
O.J.: I don't think social media is phasing out traditional forms of marketing and advertising. Presently, social media is dominated by young people, so it depends on your target audience. For example, a car-making company can't afford to replace its traditional forms of marketing and advertising with social media, the latter can only complement the former.
Where do you see the Social Media industry in Nigeria and Africa at large, 5 years from now?
O.J.: 5 years from now, I see more companies exploring the Social Media option with a more comprehensive strategy, not just for visibility, social media offers much more than that. For instance, only few companies are currently using Twitter as a listening tool; telecom companies and Banks in Nigeria are at the forefront already; they respond to customers' complaint in a matter of minutes.
It is pertinent to note social media's role in today's politics; politicians are aware of its power to influence millions of people, most top politicians and world leaders are now on the major social networks, even though they seem to engage more with their followers prior to elections than they do afterwards. Also, we all saw the role social media played in the upheaval across the middle-east in 2011, people around the world could see what was going on in Egypt, Syria, and Tunisia courtesy of Images and videos uploaded on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Years from now, Social Media will play a bigger role in elections and governance.
The social media boom is coming; we are still at the early stages of its life-cycle.
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