Social Media Week Johannesburg
Written by: Tamara Arden
The first session I attend focuses on Instafame: A discussion with South Africa’s top Instagrammers. I am taken aback with how little they share with us. Why are they not taking us through their visual identities? Their accounts need the supplement to be able to familiarise and follow their journeys. There are four panellists, who all use Instagram for career and personal driven outlets. They go on about the immediacy of the app, but caution people to use the platform that way. Their visual arrangement is based on structure and timely deadlines. Without them, they would not capture people’s attention and attain more followers. Telling parts of the audience that Instagram has given them the opportunity to meet new people and see their city, I do wonder… Instagrammers get to see parts of our city that they weren’t aware of, what did the lens give them that their eyes didn’t?
We are in a hub of intrigue and creativity. Braamfontein took on hosting duties for Social Media Week, and has given us a break from our vehicles as we take to foot from venue to venue. Livity Africa embraced a crowd for this particular session; however, majority of the seminars took place between Wits Theatre, Auditorium and Convent Seminar Room.
The next session that stands out for me is an hour arranged to speak about giving access to Accelerating Broadband access to poor communities in South Africa and the implications for the digital economy. Alan Knott-Craig, founder of Project Isizwe, takes the audience through the route of implementing free Wi-Fi in public spaces and opening up the future of connectivity. He believes Wi-Fi should be as accessible as water is- which gives us more information to work with. Using my free Wi-Fi during the week from City of Joburg, I am convinced it can be done.
“Our behaviour changes online when we not worried about the cost,” says Alan.
The Internet of Things seminar swallows me up with its content. I am overwhelmed with the direction of our lifestyles. John Montgomery introduces us to a stimulating space where he shows how all our technical devices will connect and communicate with each other. In this digital world, the internet will be able to choose a recipe from the ingredients in your fridge and plan according to your day, weight and routine. There is an automated ingestible chip/sensor we can swallow that reads our brain activity. This chip will analyse our behaviour, look into our interaction with devices and ensure we are linked up with home, career, fitness, etc.
In What are we watching? Social viewing in South Africa, Robyn Kelly from Idols SA, Anele Mdzikwa from Mzansi Magic’s ‘Our Perfect Wedding’ and Vuyo Sokupa from Mnet spoke about the experience between social media and television. It highlighted the commentary effect and how everyone wants to be involved in engaging with TV material online. Everyone is immersed and engaging; everyone has the remote control- their mobile phone. The panel discussed plugging into global series with different time zones, active and passive engagement and monitoring conversations on social media. Using ‘Our Perfect Wedding’ as an example, they made note that many people on reality TV don’t anticipate the live cruel engagement they receive on social media. When they do get negative feedback, they are shocked and defensive, but forget that the media is given free rein to comment and interact as they like.
Following a similar structural understanding between the two mediums was Radio and Social: A new Ear for Listening, in which Melanie Bala from Metro FM, Ngwako Malakalaka from Maboneng Online Radio and Nicole da Silva from 5FM spoke about their relationship with online platforms and how effective they are to their brand and personality.
The group believe that some people are loyal to the presenter and not the station. Their names are their properties. How do radio presenters set their personal & work profiles apart? Rules? Style? Boundaries? Are they conscious of what they say? Nicole thinks people that listen to you on air are not usually people who follow you on Social Media. Each panellist agrees that their online communication needs to be authentic as their personalities, and never say anything they wouldn’t say in a room full of people or on air.
“I don’t want to be censored. I’m the best version of me,” says Nicole.
They also touched on radio platforms not only being just listening channels anymore, and are embracing content and recycling it on digital spaces.
The week was well received by those who attended and provided insight and clarity into different channels of Social Media. Well organised, with ushers ready to send you to the right place, and speakers with a great deal of enthusiasm to assist and welcome you to the different venues, the platform was a great success. I feel stimulated, inspired and refreshed. I am excited for the next one.