When I was in University I read a cover article on Bono by one of my favourite writers at the time, Josh Tyrangiel. I was so moved I wrote a ‘letter to the editor’. It never got published and I never got a reply.
In those days, if you had anything to say about anything you’ve seen in a newspaper or magazine you had no choice but to write a letter to the editor. If you’re lucky, you’d get a reply or even get published – big deal!
Today I follow Josh on Twitter, I can tweet at him anytime I want to, or actually publish my views about his work on my own TL where my followers can also react real time. I can create a thread to talk about it, go on Facebook live to air my views, or just come to IG.
The media used to hold so much power – being the only link the public had to know what’s going on. It was the bridge between governments, brands & companies on the one hand, and the general public on the other.
That bridge has since collapsed. Consumers are not only able to access information and give feedback to the media, governments, brands and organizations real time, they are now able to create and curate their own information, and build their own audiences, in ways no one could ever have imagined.
From IG to Whatsapp and Twitter; from Snapchat to Facebook and YouTube, they’re talking to one another, sharing experiences, shaping views, and scoops, often without recourse to ‘the media’. In fact, most times the media have now had to struggle to catch up, with most of today’s more successful brands resorting to curating consumer conversations from all over the internet – that’s the formula for BuzzFeed and every media platform you see blowing up on IG.
Consumers have never had more power. Many brands have come to the realization and are now eager to be part of the conversation. Some are even enabling it in many ways. I only wish governments, especially in Africa, realize and acknowledge it, beyond dismissing it as narcissism.
And I wish the consumers themselves; the people, know what this means – the power and promise and opportunity available, beyond the fluff, beyond all the ephemeral pleasure that comes from likes, retweets, and shares.
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