Excuse the dramatic headline, but the truth is: since the days of Shakespeare through the days of Kwaw Ansah, to this day of social media narratives, stories have been the lifeblood of relationships.
In fact, that strong urge or need to connect with others, is driven by our innate desire to be part of a narrative.
All human history has been woven around stories of endeavours by people who wanted to make a difference in their societies.
Hence, the aptness of the theme for Social Media Week Accra 2019 – “Stories: With Great Influence comes Great Responsibility” cannot be over-emphasized.
The theme encapsulates this in-bred desire of, not only people, but also brands to share stories, and weave narratives that emotionally bond with digital audiences.
On 21 July, 2019, at the DSTV office in Accra, Social Media Week Accra 2019 edition was launched to the press, including the ever-present influential blogging community.
From the early days of social media, pioneered by MySpace, to when the baton was effectively taken over by the Facebook juggernaut, to this day, social networking has moved on, from the initial dorm-inspired, campus-inspired dream of Mark Zuckerburg to connect friends and mates, to brands and business strategizing each year on how to leverage the potential of this global marketplace, for business success.
Interestingly, the phenomenal marketplace has brought with it, it’s own rules that have ripped up the rulebook of marketing communications as we knew it.
Gone are the days of one-way communications, when brands “threw” messages at their audiences, in the hope that they will sound persuasive enough to induce trial.
The new rulebook of social media marketing, and to a generic extent, digital marketing, is grounded in the self-evolved convention that, whether as a person or a brand, your clout depends on how relevant your story is.
Make no mistake, the potential to use digital platforms to influence audiences is even greater than the potential presented by mass media.
It is this phenomenon that has brought to the fore, the imperative that all the players, within the digital space come together to share how this ever-growing influence is being used for the greater good.
This is against the background of several instances of how personal data, which is the new gold, has been used unethically to influence storytelling across digital channels, to push certain agenda.
Think Cambridge Analytica. Think Russsia’s alleged influence on the outcome of the 2016 American presidential elections. Also, think the recent brouhaha about the carte blanche terms and conditions of the usage of popular User Generated Content (UGC) app, FaceApp.
The beginning of a story gets the attention of one’s audience, but the end of it should be intriguing enough to elicit questions that will initiate more conversations, and even help members of the audience to build on this story, to generate even more intriguing narratives that will, hopefully, help answer those nagging questions.
From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Augmented Reality (AR) usage in social media and healthcare, to the use of drones in Content Marketing, to how Mobile Financial Services (MFS), aka Digital Money has done more for the economy, than the banks ever did in decades, to how Data is increasingly influencing relevant brand engagement, Social Media Week Accra 2019, will be an exciting melting pot of stories for good.
These are the building blocks of progressive communities, and that is why Social Media Week Accra is a platform that will help the digital community, whether professionals, brands or millennials to constantly strive to mitigate wanton influence with ethical endeavours.
Between 25th and 27th September, Social Media Week Accra 2019 will bring together interesting characters in the whole ecosystem of technologists, marketers, digital enthusiasts, entertainers, celebrities, media people, influencers, consumers, C-suite brand executives and even politicians to navigate the way forward, to achieve digital marketing efforts that help create a better society.