If You Put-off Your Phone, You Don’t Exist – Obi Asika

Interview with the foundation team leader, The Social Media Week, Nigeria, Obi Asika, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Media on the side of the event by Marketing Edge duo of Paula Eseghene and Michael Efengbe. Excerpt:

You have not been very visible, why?

Yes, for this year because I took a public appointment, I had to reduce myself from the programming.  The theme for this year is “The rise of a connected Africa”. It is the new and biggest media coverage. The whole idea of the social media week is to showcase how global technology enables everything in life; healthcare, agriculture, businesses, your offline life, and how those things are happening across the entire world, that is the main objective of the social media week. The social media itself, you will agree with me is a place to learn, share idea, and to push each other to do the things you think you can’t do.

In this year’s edition we see that we have different classes with large numbers in all the classes. Why?

There has always been different classes, not only this year’s edition, every aspect of life is covered in the social media week, everything from blogging, to writing, how to use data, how to market your business using the tools that exists now to change your life, so is not all about one thing, it’s about everything, it is convergence. For example, in Nigeria now, there are up to one hundred and thirty million devices, about 35per cent of these devices are smart phones, so most Nigerians have access to social media from their phones. Nigerians have become digital citizens, if you put off your phone, you don’t exist, you know the phone number of your husband or wife or one close person, it was not like that when we were younger, because that is how everything is now, disruptions changes life. If you are not ready for technology, you will not be ready to live in a new world; social media is not just about people doing twitter, pinging, those are just a part of it. It is also about education, validation, it about putting technology to test, it’s about metrics. It’s much more than just one thing.

What about the negatives of social media?

Of course there are always negatives, because in life there are negative people, everything can’t be positive, that is the reality of life. But the truth is that the positive voice always outweighs the negative, because at the end of the day, most people are looking for positive result in their lives, their government, and homes, you don’t wake up in the morning and say you feel like beating your wife. So if you are a man and you are managing your home you know how to do that, if you are a woman and you are managing your home you are to do that from the other side, it just a human relation that is extended to a global place.

How about social media with the entertainment sector?

That is huge; I mean music is the no 1 thing in social media worldwide, check on the biggest musicians worldwide, you’ll find out that they have the highest number of followers, followed by movie stars and comedians, and public personality such as government people, which is what happens. Music travels fasters than all other things in this planet, it is borderless, it does not need a visa to come to your country, all you need to have is a phone. What social media has done for people is to be in their bedroom and be global. It’s how you can put your brand in that position where you can make money, it is your decision.

How has social media impacted in Nigeria?

Social media has help Nigeria massively, company such as Konga, Jumia and other e-commerce businesses are pushing massively on social, there is no major brand in Nigeria today that has not spent up to a billion Naira on social media, look at Coca Cola, fmcg giant, P&G and so on, they are either in form of your email, Facebook, bugging you every single day, are you not seeing the engagement.

Has it really increased the GDP of Nigeria?

Definitely, I can’t give you exact numbers right now. The thing is this, it is not directly in front of you like cash, but it is sure if you ask Don Jazzy to monetise his two million followers on different platforms, you will get to find out that it is not by selling music, he has become a brand ambassador

How long has the social media week been holding?

Social media week worldwide is about 7 years, in Nigeria, this is the 3rd year, Lagos is the first Africa location, South Africa is the second, it was launched in September last year, we are no 3 worldwide out of 32 city worldwide, Lagos is no 2 in 2014.


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