Why I won’t be leaving Snapchat for Instagram Stories. Or will I?

Instagram-Stories

I am a Facebook fan. I love the platform and the thinking behind their business model. I understand the vision of the founders and believe companies like Facebook are a very important part of today’s and tomorrow’s world – in whatever way you look at it.
The world will continue to get interconnected, as we all work together to solve local and global problems, and build better lives for ourselves and the next generation.

Because Facebook has implications for our organisation, BHM, I have taken the pain to understand how the company works. I studied Google for years, even attending an FT meeting with Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg in London in 2014. Then I faced Facebook and became a self-taught expert. When the opportunity came to attend F8, Facebook’s developers conference this year, I grabbed it with both hands, even though it was days away from our own conference NEClive.

I left San Francisco convinced that Facebook could be a gift and a curse to the media, tech and advertising industry. The telcos see Mark Zuckerberg and his company as a frenemy, the media see them as enablers and enslavers, I don’t know if the ad industry sees them the way they see Google yet.

Ayeni-Adekunle-and-Facebook-Engineering-Manager-Brian-Dewey

With Facebook Engineering Manager, Brian Dewey

We’re at the cusp of something important and it is difficult for anyone to actually accurately predict what the next few years will look like. We are all at best, speculating based on what we can see from where we stand. What is certain is that there will be major losers and gainers, short term and long term. When it finally happens, we would have inadvertently created a new era where the words media, technology, advertising, public relations and computer science would mean something entirely different from what most people understand them to be today.

Facebook likely has a better idea of what’s coming, as one can tell from their recent acquisitions, priorities, products and partnerships. I loved the thinking behind snatching Oculus and Whatsapp and Instagram. I’m excited by the power of 360 videos and VR. I supported Instant Articles from day one, even though I understand the concerns of those who vehemently criticize it. There’s a lot more that Facebook is working on, most of them commendable; most of them stuff that governments and the leaders of the respective industries should have been, ideally, driving.

But what I saw yesterday after tempting my Snapchat friends with photos of my six-course dinner in Milan, left a bad taste in my mouth. I had heard earlier in the day that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook was to launch something called Instagram Stories. Smart move, I thought. Reminded me of how Instagram videos came at the point everyone was on Keek’s dick. But when I left Snapchat to catch up with IG, I was shocked to find a copycat of Snapchat right in my face: if you’re a Snapchat user, you know what tapping your camera screen twice does: it switches the camera from front to back. You know what the eye sign says: suggesting who has viewed your snap. You know how to edit your photos and input text in many colours. These basic Snapchat features were what Facebook introduced yesterday on Instagram. I don’t know if there’s a term for it in Silicon Valley. But in the media, it’s called plagiarism. It’s an illegality. A shame. It’s low and dirty and petty and unpardonable.

Google was late to the social media party and is paying dearly for it. We’ve seen what happened to Nokia and Blackberry and Yahoo and others who didn’t see the future early. So I understand Facebook’s determination not to be caught napping. I also understand they may not have broken any laws, but what’s bad is bad, no matter how much filter you use to beautify it.
Facebook has been eyeing what Google had with YouTube for years, and I recall the criticism that trailed their free-for-all approach to videos from 2014. Looking away as copyright infringements thrived on their platform, they just wanted people to post videos natively on Facebook, no matter whose. They even tweaked the algorithm to prioritize native video content over links. They tweaked the algorithm to show us more video in newsfeed. Facebook wanted a seat at the video table. They now have it.

For many years, Facebook became, for many people, the social media app where your father and grand uncle liked your photos and made snide comments on your tattoos. So millennials jumped out in droves and began cavorting with cooler platforms like Tumblr and Snapchat and even Twitter. To win the kids back, Facebook has had to do a lot of things, including Facebook Live – a product designed, in my opinion, to battle Twitter for relevance in live news, and battle Snapchat in live video.

Instagram’s Stories, launched yesterday, is the recent episode, in this battle for users’ photos, videos, time and data, and it would have been popcorn-deserving, if it were not scary. It would have been entertaining if it were not unfunny.

I’ve been told moves like this are not new in the tech industry. My response: it doesn’t make it right, especially for a company owned and run by someone with Zuckerberg’s vision.

Facebook has used new ideas, good thinking and technology to connect over 1.7 billion people in 12 years. I see a future where Facebook.com will be the home page of the internet, winning in media and tech and advertising. It’s bound to happen, whether we like it or not.

Facebook has done, and will have to do a lot to make sure this possibility is not truncated. Bullying every small Organisation to hand over their businesses or get run over is definitely not one of them.

Sadly, for now, Snapchat will have to reinvent itself or die a fast, painful death.

Surprise visit by City People publisher Seye Kehinde

Dr Seye Kehinde with Ayeni Adekunle

Dr. Seye Kehinde, publisher of City People stopped by BHM this morning.

Dr Seye Kehinde with Ayeni Adekunle

With Publisher, City People Magazine, Dr. Seye Kehinde

Of course all we talked about was the past, present and future of the media industry in Nigeria

Dr. Seye Kehinde at BHM with Ayeni Adekunle
He said he came to interview me. But I ended up asking all the questions and picking every part of his brain.

Publisher of City People, Seye Kehinde With Ayeni Adekunle

City People is one of the most successful celebrity magazines in Nigeria. Now in its 19th year, SK and his team are now plotting a future in an industry that’s increasingly under the influence of bloggers and social media influencers.

I’ll be glad to see Nigerian brands face the digital challenge and not only survive, but use the advantage technology provides to enter new markets and – as we say at BHM – ‘go global’.

You see, to survive in this business, you have to ‘see’ tomorrow.

Publisher of City People, Dr Seye Kehinde with Ayeni Adekunle

 

Dr Seye Kehinde leaving BHM after his interview

Why NET Is No Longer A Newspaper Company

NET-goes-out-of-print-03

Today, I confirm what many have suspected: the weekly print edition of Nigerian Entertainment Today will no longer be available.

Yes, we are stopping the 16-page newspaper we debuted on April 22, 2010 after 216 editions.

I’m a print man. I worked for newspapers and magazines, gathering bylines from Hip-Hop World Magazine (now also out of print) to Encomium, The Guardian, THISDAY, The Africa Report, The Punch and more.

I love the look and smell of print. I’m still a regular collector of the FT, WSJ and The Times.

Sadly, there’s a narrow future for the print business all over the world.  The situation here in Nigeria is made more scary, because of poor distribution infrastructure, media agencies’ chronic debts, and increasing availability of a faster alternative: everyone now can potentially access news on the go, on their phones or laptops.

In January 2014, disturbed by the circulation and advertising trend I’ve monitored over the past two years, I asked our editorial board for permission to shut down the newspaper and focus on our digital assets (at the time, we only owned thenet.ng). The board convinced me it didn’t make sense to stop.
Part of our differentiation, they unanimously argued, was that we have a popular and credible print asset. People don’t see us as a blog. We can compete with the Big 5. We can attract partnerships and advertising. We can embrace training and conferences and classifieds.

We already started Nigeria Entertainment Conference (NECLive) in 2013 to resounding success. I was convinced our investments should lie in such properties, and other digital assets, not in a weekly paper that’s clearly not scalable.

On August 5, 2015 I wrote the board again, hoping to start another conversation about shutting down the weekly print newspaper.  Advertising revenue was nothing to write home about, agencies were owing for up to two years, sales revenue continued to dwindle, even after we doubled cover price. The paper was everywhere. But the figures didn’t look good.

Nearly everyone wrote back, agreeing it was time to nail the coffin.


Before my August pitch, we had already launched our human-interest site newsroom.ng, we had been test running our music site orin.ng for four months, we had seen our lifestyle platform star.ng off to a good start. Our TV platform, which launched in March had already pushed out 1000 videos and recorded over 2 million views on Youtube and Facebook. The team didn’t need any further convincing that our model needed this adjustment; that the future of our business can be guaranteed only by our investment in visual content, better story telling and a pool of digital assets that can meet the needs of those we care about.

How do they want the content? Why do they want it? Where do they want it? When? What exactly do they want?

I was a young boy around 1996-1997 when I first dreamt of publishing a newspaper.  When in 2005 I started shopping for financiers to start an entertainment newspaper, my belief was that it’s possible to do a very good paper Nigerians cannot do without. A paper that will reach millions daily and redefine what people consider entertainment or celebrity journalism.

Shame we did not come close to doing a daily, not to talk of having a paper that reached millions.
On the best days, we had circulation reaching 7,000 to 10,000. Most weeks, we could barely sell 3,000 copies.

Meanwhile, our website thenet.ng continued to show promise, despite a 2013 hacking and eventual domain loss that set us back remarkably.  Our visitors (especially returning ones) and pageviews have quadrupled over the past year alone. Through our website and social assets (FB, IG and Twitter) we were reaching more people daily than the paper could in 10 editions. Six month figures for April – September 2015 shows thenet.ng reached over 50 million users on the website, FB, IG, Youtube and Twitter. We’ve seen revenue growth surpass 300% in the past year alone.

Then someone told me: Perhaps it’s time you redefine ‘newspaper’ and take it that your dream of having a medium that’ll reach millions of Nigerians daily is already being accomplished?

Then the truth hit me. Although in the past year alone, the likes of The News, PM News, Entertainment Express, Sunday Express, Y!, and more have gone off print, most of them continue to have heavy influence online. The Express titles and PM News in particular have shown, with the rapid growth of their websites, that it was a wise, decision to shed off excess weight.

At a time when journalists are no longer influencing readers the way bloggers are, when there are over 70 million Nigerians on the internet and over 18 million of them actively using FB, Twitter and IG combined; when the language of news has moved from just text, to include memes, audio visuals, skits, info graphics, GIFs, and all, the right thing for us to do is to understand that today’s newspapers and magazines are no longer being read in news print. They are being consumed on mobile phones, on tablets, and on computers. Being ‘read’ on screens by an involved generation that wants to, according to The Economist, curate, create, and consume.

This understanding (and of course, that of the board) is why we have focused all investments this year on assets like Newsroom, Orin, Star, and thenet.ng. It’s why we are looking into television and biographies and e-commerce.

It is why we no longer call ourselves a newspaper company. To be sure: we will continue to dabble into print, as you’ve seen with the NET Book Series and the presentation, yesterday, of ‘A Very Good Bad Guy: The Story of Innocent 2face Idibia’. There’ll be occasional special publications: for example, our Encyclopedia of Nigerian Entertainment, which is already in the works.

Also good to note, that we’re not downsizing. In fact we are currently looking for a news editor, a comedy writer, cartoonist and a couple of developers.

The future looks good, interesting, in many ways you can’t imagine.

May we live in interesting times!…

Interview: Media Consumers Now Have More Power Than Before – Ayeni

ID Africa

By Funsho Arogundade (The News Nigeria)

 

In this interview with FUNSHO AROGUNDADE, the young media entrepreneur fondly called “Ayeni The Great” gives a rare peek into digital marketing agency ID Africa, his latest business venture, which will see a spread of the BHM Group’s clientele and content across more nations on the African continent

Q: How did BHM Group begin?

A: BHM Group started in 2006, while I was still a reporter, from my two-bedroom flat in Akute (Lagos). My wife and I had no furniture so I bought a small chair and table, and could only afford to pay someone to assemble a computer. We started out working for musicians, actors and record labels that had smaller budgets, so it was tough but fulfilling work.

A few years later, my friend Ayo Animashaun (owner of Hip TV and The Headies) gave me a desk in his office from where BHM operated. Eventually, we had to rent our own office space and today we have 60 employees and various consultants across the world. In 2009 we began working for corporate clients, and they tapped into the experience we had built with entertainers and young people. It has never happened in Nigeria that an organisation with experience solely in entertainment – working for artistes and actors – to begin working for various multinationals. That’s our story and we are proud of it.

Ayeni Adekunle1croped

Q: You recently launched ID Africa, a digital agency and subsidiary of the BHM Group? What do you hope to achieve?

A: With Digital Marketing, disparate uptake rates exist. Brands across regions in Africa are very late to the party, while those trying to get into the party are not in the appropriate attire; I mean they are not using the right tools to speak to, or listen to the people. Africa is a continent of up to 2,000 languages from numerous tribes, with over 1 billion people becoming increasingly globalised, yet retaining the peculiarities that categorise their individual heritages – the status quo is changing. We all know that the latest arrivals to a party can still make the atmosphere electric, so this is an opportunity for practitioners.

We are fortunate to have an extensive understanding, based on our PR background, about people who consume and publish content on the Internet. We know what they are looking for, so we have an understanding of how to use that social space better to create the kind of conversations that can help people meet each other and have a nice time, whether it’s a brand meeting the consumer or just consumers interacting, or even brands needing to engage with each other.

ID Africa is the digital agency that can make this happen because it is not just a service agency; more of Africa’s audiences need to be communicated with and listened to via channels and outlets that best conform to their social, cultural and personal proclivities.

Q: So, what are your experiences as you roll out ID Africa with more continental clients?

A: I cannot divulge research data we have obtained at prohibitive costs, but I will share some insights.

A: To successfully communicate with the diverse audiences and demographics that constitute Africa’s cities and navigate the sociocultural nuances therein, all brands- entertainment or corporate- must treat the term media very loosely. If I can get on a Mutatu in Nairobi or a Danfo in Lagos and speak to 50 passengers, and try to get them to try or understand my new product, then that bus as far as ID Africa is concerned, is as valid a media vehicle as social media is in Johannesburg.

 

Read full interview on thenewsnigeria.com.ng

 

Digital PR to the Rescue

id3

By Raheem Akingbolu (ThisDay Newspaper)

 

Like other aspects of marketing communications, the goal post for effective public relations practice has been shifted from traditional to a blend of traditional and digital. A survey of the industry shows that most companies now rely more on agencies with the understanding of the new trend for their briefs than those with only traditional experience. This, according to a source, informed why most of the PR businesses won in recent time were as a result of the winners’ depth in digital application.

The Chief Executive Officer of Black House Media (BHM), Mr. Ayeni Adekunle, whose agency is currently making waves in this regard told THISDAY during the week that the best way any agency can survive in today’s market is to be dynamic in skill acquisition and understanding of the global trend.

Ayeni Adekunle

Sharing insights on how BHM has been able to weather the storm, despite the global technological advancement which has redefined the PR space, Ayeni said his agency’s staying power lies in the ability to read between the lines as trend changes.

“With PR, our approach has always been to understand how the media landscape has changed, is changing, and therefore ascertain what tools we need to use to deliver value to brands and audiences alike. Before, the media was a brick wall you had to pass through, to get to the consumer. Today, every consumer, every brand, is a publisher and recipient of content. Just as there are billboards on the roads, there are digital billboards to draw in and engage the consumer, but their construction for Africa-focused demographics is a whole different field which we are excited to have the privilege of labouring in.

So ID Africa is here to further the premise on which the BHM Group itself is built – ensuring that as manufacturers and consumers, we do not lose sight of the ‘social” in social media, and the “media” in media communication.

With PR, our approach has always been to understand how the media landscape has changed, is changing, and therefore ascertain what tools we need to use to deliver value to brands and audiences alike. Before, the media was a brick wall you had to pass through, to get to the consumer. Today, every consumer, every brand, is a publisher and recipient of content. Just as there are billboards on the roads, there are digital billboards to draw in and engage the consumer, but their construction for Africa-focused demographics is a whole different field which we are excited to have the privilege of labouring in.

Enters ID Africa

The practitioner also spoke about the recently launched ID Africa, a digital agency and subsidiary of the BHM Group, which he said was established to further deepening the practice.

“With Digital Marketing, disparate uptake rates exist.  Brands across regions in Africa are very late to the party, while those trying to get into the party are not in the appropriate attire; I mean they are not using the right tools to speak to, or listen to the people. Africa is a continent of up to 2000 languages from numerous tribes, with over 1 billion people becoming increasingly globalised, yet retaining the peculiarities that categorise their individual heritages – the status quo is changing. We all know that the latest arrivals to a party can still make the atmosphere electric, so this is an opportunity for practitioners.

 

Read full interview on thisdaylive.com