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For many corporate organizations and other corporate entities, Social Media Week Lagos is the best place to reach out to social media users in Lagos. It is the convention for Nigerian social media celebrities; their own version of Comic-Con.
Here’s what we learned from the third edition of the event.
1. Social Media knows no boundaries
Even though Social Media Week Lagos is meant to focus on social media conversations and personalities in Lagos, the event was attended by individuals from across the country, some participants actually came from outside Nigeria including very close West African countries including Ghana, and some from South Africa.
Rather than spending the entire week discussing weren’t how social media is influencing the traffic situation in Lagos, the conference covered a pretty broad spread of issues. Take the session focused on government for instance: panelists didn’t discuss how they could use social media to influence decision-making processes in their local governments, instead, they were talking about how to latch on hashtags and create globally trending topics such as #BringBackOurGirls.
2. Mobile web or mobile app still isn’t a clear-cut choice
At one of the sessions at SMWLagos, the mobile web and mobile apps were on trial — sort of. Founders of tech companies argued for and against the choice of either as the best launch medium for a new company or product. The first factor to consider when faced with this choice is largely that of purpose. What kind of service is the developer trying to provide? Is an app really necessary?
There are areas where deploying an app is ideal. For instance, there are apps with SMS and call functionalities, and other ancillary services, that can be used even when there is no internet access. Furthermore, the developer can subsequently easily reach individuals that have downloaded an app with tailored messages.
When it comes to engagement, the panelists believe deploying an app is better than mobile web. That said, the need to choose which platforms to develop apps for could make mobile web an easier option. Regular updates may also mean regular expenses for an outsourced app development project.
3. Publicising or monetising music
Some of the big names in Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s music industry turned up to discuss social media, internet and the music business. Rapper M.I, who premiered one of his songs via Google Hangout, said an artist would decide what he or she wants to achieve with a particular song.
“Are you trying to gain publicity or do you want to make money from the song? If you want publicity, you can put the songs and videos on TV expecting little or no money in return. But if you want to generate revenues from the song, you may decide to put it on YouTube or any other revenue generating platform,” he said.
Other members of the panel however believe both objectives could be achieved by engaging all channels to promote music.
4. Musicians are not computer geeks
The notion that musicians are not computer geeks was also confirmed by female music sensation Omawumi who believes that not all Nigerian musicians understand how social media platforms work. She noted that maintaining good social media accounts could be an inundating task which is why, according to her, putting together a social media team could be necessary.
“Setting up social media channels could be quite tasking which is why I had to get a social media team,” she said.
According to her, a musician’s social media channel is an identity of the artist which is extra caution should be taken to ensure that the right message is being passed across to fans, listeners and potential clients.
Nigeria’s foremost DJ, Jimmy Jatt also spoke on social media. According to him, extra caution should be taken when interpreting the success or otherwise of a social media campaign. When you are a celebrity, the DJ said followers would retweet posts without even reading them. This according to him also comes into play when an artist shares a link to a song and thousands of followers retweet such.
There was also an extensive and inconclusive debate on how social media and technology in general are impacting music releases. Prior to the advent of cloud service, musicians often had to take their songs recorded on tapes and CDs to radio stations. But nowadays, all they do is to send links to on-air personalities, bloggers and trendsetters.
6. Plagiarism is still a big deal
The session on creative writing was one of the livelier ones to take place during the week. It was attended by legal practitioners, writers, editors, publishers and content developers. Panelists and participants shared personal experiences of how their contents are being plagiarized with reckless abandon — even at institutional levels.
It has become a familiar action being taken even my editors of major newspapers and publications in the country. Even though the process of seeking legal action against a plagiarizer is cumbersome, sometimes cost intensive and time-wasting, confronting perpetrators and threatening legal actions have been proven to be effective.
“I have also found out that visiting the contact page on the plagiarizer’s website often provide phone numbers that could be called to reach them and ask them to either attribute properly or pull down the story entirely,” a contributor said.
Hope for next year
This year’s edition was definitely big, touching several issues. For next year I hope there’s less politics, more sessions for startups, healthcare and security.