02 Apr What GMB Winning the Nigerian Presidential Elections says about Nigerian Social Media
General Mohammad Buhari was confirmed as the President Elect on March 31st 2015. The Federal republic pretty much exploded with joy! We take a look at why a man so old managed to capture the attention of the younger generation so much that he had all the support he needed on social media. We have to take a closer look at the fact that it seemed the social power of the masses is what put him in office.
Over the years, Nigerians have been getting more and more influential in the social space, we started from dial up cable with Hi 5 & Yahoo messenger chat rooms – to Facebook – twitter – instagram. And you know the rest. Basically we are at the early adopter stage of the cycle where a new social oriented app released an hour ago is already a big deal for young Nigerians.
In many cases the social power is misused and maybe even underutilized. But in the case of the 2015 presidential elections, the votes were won online and offline (At least we would like to believe so). From the get go there has always been a kind of segregation; we had the influential and intellectual social media analysts and we had the not so influential and intellectual ones… Basically call it the cool kids and the uncool kids. It does not take very long to figure out what category a basic internet user in Nigeria falls. For example; If you only use Facebook with no twitter account and you are a young person then you are not a cool kid… If you are on twitter with 20 followers following 500 people then you are not cool enough to sit with the cool kids. And here is the bummer, once you automatically have few followers and you are not a cool kid – the stereotype is you are liable to have collected bribes and or rice and therefore your opinion did not count…
The social-mediasphere especially the twittersphere (which in my opinion is the most dominant) had already alienated gossip and scrapper content peddlers a long time ago. People trending hashtags with unrelated or sexual questions in a bid to manipulate the trends map results – we already don’t want them (This is me speaking as the chief consultant for Cool kids twitter).
So let’s apply this inference to the APC strategy and the PDP strategy:
APC: Appealed to the desire for change from the cool kids on twitter (Who talk a big game but are not necessarily being adversely affected by the situation of the country. They wish they could do something about it so they can be proud of their country). This move was the first win.
PDP: Hired twitter hashtag trenders and paid people who were already chilling around the Ajegunle of twitter… Note that most of these people PDP influenced with their money were all people who were being genuinely affected by the situation of the country. Case in point Type A above. They sold out the moment money exchanged hands. (This move was the first fail)
The Northerners who did not care about the situation or the options available but simply wanted APC & Buhari in power. The beautiful South South girls who may or may not be members of Cool kids Nigerian Internet association but simply wanted Jonathan to continue because “He is one of us”. These set of people already lost the elections for PDP from the start – why? Because consensus already had it that the population of the north outnumberered the south at a ratio of almost 2 to 1. So in the end, if it was a game of numbers; it was always going to the North. But the Type C social media analyst mostly lost the elections for PDP because (And I sincerely apologise for this truth)— The whole situation made it look like only the kids of the rich people from the south who were benefitting from the Jonathan administration were rooting for a repeat of the last 4 years.
After seeing all of that as a politically illiterate person, why wouldn’t you want GMB to be President. Debola Lagos, the Digital Marketing Campaign handler for the GMB campaign said to BBC one radio abd I quote “We Humanized General Buhari”. The power of Social Media grew so much that the voices of everyone screaming change drowned out anyone else who was saying otherwise. Be it with a valid point or otherwise… Nigerian twitter did not care. At home or in diaspora… They just wanted this #Change thing all the other cool people wanted…
Until it turned out that all Pinocchio wanted was to be a real boy.. Uncool twitter actually just wanted to be cool too. And all the Basement people suffering from the real issues began to echo the words out of the mouths of their “cool kids” mentors. At this point it was done and the PDP was fighting an uphill battle… then came the case of elections are not won online… But did we forget everyone old enough, smart enough and or educated enough to Register for a PVC > Get that PVC > and then use it appropriately is on this internet thing one way or the other? Did we forget that the people voting actually do have facebook accounts and twitter accounts and emails and BBM and they see all the jokes and DPs and all the desperate attempts the PDP was making…
The PDP had already lost the election… It was clear since the early hours of the day of the final announcement… then one Elder Orubebe an agent of the PDP went on live TV at the collation center and embarrassed himself, his family and his political party… On a day like that – an international spectacle. At this point, everyone who was not supporting the APC, the neutrals of the political internet just gave up and joined the APC. And everyone was #SaiBaba from this point forward. Nigeria decided but the votes were won both offline and online. If the PDP had handled Online PR with a bit more finesse the results might have been different… they did it all wrong.
The power of Social Media in Nigeria is no longer a joke. If we can take power away from an Incumbent government for the first time since our Independence using this social media thing as a tool, we can definitely say No to your business using the same exact tool. Be wise, make the right social connections and give the audience what it wants. The miracle we witnessed does not necessarily mean that APC will be the change we need or Buhari is the answer to all our questions… The idea was to sell an idea to the Nigerians with “this social media thing”. Idea sold, Idea bought… idea consumed. Now we wait!