Social Media as a Business and a key driver for Citizens’ Empowerment by Tosin Ajibade

Speech Delivered by Tosin Ajibade, (founder of at the 6th Edition of the Rise National Youth Forum

Dear friends, it is with a sense of anticipation that I welcome you today to an epoch event, the 6th edition of the Rise National Youth Forum, perhaps the most impressive pan Nigerian youth engagement driven under the stellar leadership of Toyosi Akerele.

Today, we stand at the cusp of a defining moment in our social space; the excitement is palpable, the possibilities are endless and the unique feeling of freedom is indeed quite empowering. It is this same sense of hope that led me to start my blog in February 2010. All over the world, young people are tapping into the social media resource and are leveraging it to build businesses and advance the cause of good and veritable governance.

Nigeria has not been any less involved in the social media space. Due to our relatively low Internet penetration, the vistas are yet open; and to borrow the words of the formidable TY Bello the land is green. I intend to share with you the stories of young people around the world and Nigeria who are using social media to build empires, empower people, create jobs and chart the course for a new world order.

Let’s begin, shall we?

The intrinsic characteristics of social media make for such a potent tool. Social media thrives on the absence of boundaries, its ability to drive user generated content and its sheer disruptiveness. It is the disruptiveness that saw Beyonce’s self titled album break records, selling 80,000 copies in the first three hours and over 800,000 copies in less than one week.

In Nigeria, we have case studies in the work of Japheth Omojuwa who has pushed the boundaries on social entrepreneurship. There is also the story of three young people who set out years ago with nothing in their pockets but a head full of hope. Their journey of faith is evidenced by the birth of RED Media the company responsible for YNaija and other Y! brands. Uche Pedro, the founder of Bella Naija has also created a success story with her seamless transition from blogging to online lifestyle magazine. It will be a great disservice to not mention the queen mother of blogging in Nigeria – Linda Ikeji. These are a few of the success stories.

Away from the overladies and overlords, where are the untapped areas? Let us look at the inspiring story of Marques Brownlee, a 21year old fellow who has garnered a huge following from his vlogging. He began posting technology-based videos on his YouTube channel (MKBHD) in 2009 – and today he has more than 1.2million subscribers on his YouTube channel and a total of more that 92million views.

There is the remarkable story of Pete Cashmore, the 29 old founder of Mashable who has been quoted as one of the top 10 most influential people by Time’s Magazine. Seun Onigbinde’s impressive work with Budgit is another refreshing way people are leveraging social media. The possibilities are endless.

Nothing exemplifies the impact of social media for citizens’ empowerment such as the recent BringBackOurGirls campaign. Assailed by dissent from every side, the campaign has gotten an insipid government to listen and take action. Only yesterday, thugs reportedly attempted to disrupt the peaceful protest in Abuja. The conversation has gone beyond Nigeria and has become global. When deployed effectively, devoid of sensationalism, social media can trigger the change we need.

Now let me close by sharing my personal experience. My name is Tosin Ajibade, founder of OloriSuperGal and I am one of the foremost Social Media Marketers in Nigeria. When I started, I had no idea that the brand would grow this far. It has taken guts, hard work and sheer will to get to where I am. Here are a few things I have learnt on the way:

Understand the space: What drives content consumption in the social media space? What are the peculiarities of the different kinds of platforms and how can they be leveraged? It is crucial to be a voracious reader and observer of the social media space. I recommend ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR’ by David Meerman Scott.

Listen: Now this is a particularly important area. It is important to understand that social influence is real currency. To build social influence, you have to pay rapt attention to the language, manners and style of the social media world. When you have done this, you can then carve a niche for yourself and deliver great service.

Evolve or Die: The very nature of social media is dynamic and flexible. The fact that User Generated Content (UGC) drives social media ensures that there is a proliferation of content at any time. In light of this, the social media marketer/influencer would need to evolve constantly to remain relevant in such a space driven by continuous change.

I strongly believe that we have young dynamic people in this place that can take up the responsibility in the online space and drive the conversation in entrepreneurship and social advocacy.

Never forget; the land is green.

Thank you.

Tosin Ajibade

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