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Social Media Week Lagos For 5 days, I joined young Nigeria to talk about storytelling in the digital age

It was a week for endless cups of coffee and the content creators who are emerging as the new voice of Africa.

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For five days, at Landmark Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, young (and not-so-young) Nigerians gathered to talk about their stories, the future, and their place in an age where innovation is the standard.

A good friend of mine often says that we are a minority. What he means is this: that those young content creators who, by virtue of exposure or sheer will, have the privilege of insight and depth, are not the majority. We are few.

Thanks to technology and the increased influence of social media in the last 3 to 5 years, content and the telling of stories have become democratised. Nowadays, the next breaking news report is at the end of a mobile camera; with Instagram, every young person is a curator of the things that interest them; apps like Twitter and Medium have provided a platform for young people to express themselves in words.

Let's not even talk about Facebook or Youtube.

play Facebook's Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox (Pulse)

On its fifth year running, this year's edition of Social Media Week was about that conversation and how young Nigeria is bending technology to its will.

Naturally, the seminars were aplenty. Between the two stages; Innovation and Experience, several speakers and young people in various fields sat on panels discussing issues ranging from digital distribution to how technology can be used to prevent sexual crimes against women.

Beyond hearing from the elevated platforms, we also took the time to hear from one another.

play General Electric's Rich Tanksley and BigCabal's Bankole Oluwafemi at GE's stall. (Pulse)

 

In many ways, the interaction stage was the unheralded centre of the event. It was perfect for its purpose; an open area with exciting brand spots on both sides and all the space for people to meet, greet and share opinions.

At every point, there was an introduction being made, twitter friends were finally meeting in person, relative newbies were seeking direction and business cards from their idols.

People call this 'networking'.

play Participants at Social Media Week Lagos 2017 (Pulse Nigeria)

 

We had most of these conversations in person, but they were mostly about how we connect beyond physical interaction.

Events like SMW show how technology is cutting distances short; to the effect that two sports editors can start a conversation with the intention of killing time without knowing of their shared interest or the fact that they have been reading each other's work for years.

play The Loose Talk Giants had a live podcast show at SMW Lagos 2017 (Pulse Nigeria)

In this vein, Pulse Nigeria's Osagie Alonge and Princess Abumere shared their thoughts on the emergence of podcasts and their potential as an accessible tool for finding people with similar interests and stories.

play GE's Ugo Okafor takes participants on a tour of the facility (Pulse)

Social Media Week, was in itself, a platform for the members of the content community to interact and take stock of how technology is affecting their stories and how each voice is heard.

Brands and companies also took a seat at the table. General Electric's Lagos Garage hosted participants to a workshop on 3D printing. GTBank also held a session to make a case for the future of banking in the age of social.

Nescafe managed to help us stay woke. There was an almost endless supply of coffee served in flavours that have inspired me to consider a future as a professional coffee taster.

Was Social Media Week lit? Yes.

To say the conversation was all about storytelling would be a disservice.

play Pulse's Cee Classic, Abasi-Anam Akpan and Nescafe (Pulse)

In truth, it was about young people and the fast-paced times we live in. It was about our realities and our tendency to go against the grain regardless of them, in business, education and our campaigns for gender equality.

It was about our need to express, our love for disruption; the belief that there is always a better way to do a thing.

After five successful years, Social Media Week promises to continue that conversation in Lagos come 2018.

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