In this article, I’m going to discuss how social media has disrupted the orthodox ways of communication and marketing and how it has been used for good and bad purposes in Sierra Leone, my country.
Before we start, what is social media? In simple terms, social media is the collective use of websites and applications with a focus on communication, community input, collaboration, and marketing.
Social media is normally referred to as new media. The beginning of social media can be dated back to the early 2000s and it has since become one of the most disruptive technologies in our times.
Sierra Leone is one of the countries that joined the world in making use of social media in the late 2000s on a very minimal scale and the usage has since been growing to over six million in recent times.
Social media has disrupted a lot of orthodox ways of communication, and marketing and several other sectors have taken advantage of social media to reach their target population. Social Media has been used for:
Marketing and Business
Social Media has made it very easier for businesses to reach out to their prospective clients and has drawn a thin line between start-ups and multilateral corporations for those that have been able to grab the opportunity and make use of it effectively.
With social media, businesses can register their presence and locations in the market without having to spend huge sums of money on marketing especially if the team has a social media marketer that can generate organic followers so easily with better content.
Businesses, whether start-up or not, that have not been able to take advantage have lost without knowing it. And in an environment, market or business with higher competition, business owners that make use of very flexible, adaptive, and innovative strategies can always thrive over those with rigid and orthodox strategies.
People with small capital that cannot be able to rent an office or business space can start running their business from home. We saw the start of home-run businesses kicked off during the COVID19 pandemic and it seems to be on the rise, even though at a very steady pace. Being that Facebook is a highly used platform in Sierra Leone, these business owners made it their platform.
Activism and Advocacy
Activists and advocates in Sierra Leone that have taken advantage of social media have been able to make use of social media to reach their target audience. With social media, advocacy, and activism has gone beyond borders. Activists and advocates can now post, share and re-share messages to reach their prospective audience in no time and without being bound by the challenges of budget. The social issues they flag can be seen and read by people across the globe.
Entertainment and Tourism
The Sierra Leone entertainment industry was the first facet to grab the opportunity and make use of social media. Currently, 95% of entertainers in Sierra Leone, ranging from filmmakers, musicians, artists, artists, comedians, writers, fashion stars, etc, make use of social media to propagate their craft.
Entertainers make use of social media to gain followers, tell their stories, and propagate their craft. With the rise of blogs like imageSALONE, Vertex Media, etc, artworks and celebrity lifestyles are being sent as updates online on a regular basis. Popular celebrities with high followers have also been able to market brands to their followers via their social media pages.
Tourists are now able to know about the lifestyles in Sierra Leone, the brands, hotels, and touristic locations before even they can decide to visit the country.
In recent times, we have seen that politicians have started reaching out to their supporters via Facebook, Instagram TikTok, and Twitter, which are the most used social media platforms in Sierra Leone, respectively. Messages they post via these platforms cost almost next to nothing and the posts can last longer and be seen by followers in and out of the country.
Professional journalists are finding it very difficult to navigate within the new media space to be the first to let out balanced information. Nowadays, unprofessional bloggers and ordinary people can share information via videos and graphics within a twinkle of an eye, the moment an incident happens.
Radio stations, TV and Newspapers are now poised with the challenge of having to create social media accounts through which they can make their followers listen and follow their news. Social media has disrupted the media landscape to an extent that we have even seen a decline in newspaper reading and radio program listening. Those that have been able to seize the opportunity have
The Bad Use of social media In Sierra Leone
While others make use of social media for good reasons, we have seen the rise in the bad usage by individuals, especially artists, politicians and their followers, bloggers and even lay people.
We have been following certain popular artists who have made it a habit of using very bad language, abusive language and picking fights with their colleagues in a very meaningless order. This is not good for their followers and the image of the brands they represent.
Politicians in Sierra Leone and political party loyalists have been using social media to spread propaganda messages and hate speeches. On the scale, this is a very bad use of social media and we have even seen an advent of using threats and very abysmal abusive language.
Though on a very minimal scale, we have also seen ordinary people making use of social media to pass on both positive and negative messages to their neighbours and fellow compatriots in general.
The Sierra Leone Cyber Security Act
The Sierra Leone Cyber Security Act came into play in 2021. However, unlike the members of parliament and lawyers, a good number of Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad are yet to know the content of the said act.