10 October 2012 7 Comments

Social Media and National (Brand) Image

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

Those whoonline reputation management, Online media Management Online reputation tools thought Social media use in Nigeria or elsewhere has not come into the mainstream will have to reconsider their opinions. The implication of this is huge for brands (personal, product, corporate and National).

Planning and engaging traditional media alone in this age is tantamount to media malpractices. That is just the simple truth. The immediacy at which authentic news or rumours spread on the Social media platform is alarming. Wise brands cannot but be up on their toes if they wish to succeed. Those who care about their image will not live it to chances. They need to consciously make every effort in ensuring public perception of their image is exactly what they think it is. Talking about image, we should never forget there is an ideal image. This is basically what one thinks the ideal image should be. You never enjoy this except if you work hard at it. In actual fact few brands reach this level.

There is also what is known as real image. This is what the public think about you as against what you hope you are. In most cases, there may be a gulf between what the brand owners imagine it to be. Most times, many brand owners live in the region of wish image all their lives.

Now there is an issue currently making the news in Nigeria. Four undergraduate students of University of Portharcourt (River states Nigeria) were confirmed to be murdered in a University village named ‘Omuokiri-Aluu’. Their offence according to sources was that they were trying to steal a laptop (?). Another source claimed they were making demand for a debt owed them. One thing led to another they were murdered last weekend. Unfortunately, people with handheld phones recorded the scenes and uploaded this within few hours. The videos have gone viral and attracted coverage from both local and international traditional media including CNN.

We have taken time to analyse the issues so far and our conclusion was that official silence from required Government Agencies within the first twenty four hours really hiked the hatred as well as negatively affected images of the Police Force(established to maintained order) the School authority( on whose shoulder the care of  the  students are placed), The River state Government( in whose territory the school is located) and even the National Assembly as well as Federal Ministry of Education had and will never promote right perception in the face of international community. As we know our national image is still fragile and government is trying hard to sell a positive perception. It will be on record that some of the actions taken (arresting the traditional leader of the community(?), National Assembly committee established to look at the incidence among other started after forty eight hours. As we know, the online world waits for no one. So the damage done already will take a long time to correct in Search Engine. Also, till now, none of the affected Agencies has seen reason to use online platforms to communicate already taken position. In fact that is none existence for most of them.

In ideal environment, ‘WhiteHouse online Television’ would have posted something; school authority will have used its online platform to communicate. Here, such activities are considered as irrelevant. Unfortunately, the whole world is hungry for news and Search Engines will be the number one point of call.

The image implication will be:

Nigeria is a place of jungle justice: Watching the video or reading other content forms is likely to make external audience conclude Nigeria is a nation where jungle justice reigns supreme. Who will want to invest in such an environment?

Ineffective Policing or security system: other may conclude the security or Police Force of Nigeria is not effective. With the aid of CCTV and other monitoring gadget, Police elsewhere needs not to be informed before it takes relevant action. To add insult to injury, there is a police Station within the community.

Life is four a penny: In advanced society, the live of an average citizen is highly priced. The Government or other relevant Agencies would have fought tooth and nail to save the lives of these ‘assumed innocent students’. At least pending the time the law court will say otherwise.

A nation where no human right is guaranteed: a human life and his rights are fundamentally protected around the world. You have a right to life and access to Court of law. What does this act portray to the international community about Nigeria human right protection? These are many other factors need adequate consideration.

It is high time we start addressing the need of incorporating Social media into brand’s media use. Else traditional media fire-fighting approach will lead us to nowhere. What is your opinion?

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