Soundtrack: Ronald Magweta
THERE is no doubt that the most popular social media platforms locally, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, have become the major media for personal and business communication, marketing and sharing of content.
It is within this context that any citizen, regardless of status or social standing, will be affected somehow by the use or non-use of any of these social media platforms. For artistes, social media presence is critical, and clearly so as it has helped many to become successful in their careers.
In Zimbabwe, the list of arts personalities who have used social media to market themselves and communicate to their audiences is quite long. We have Jah Prayzah, Winky D, Mudiwa, Tocky Vibes, Stunner, Comic Pastor, Thomas Mapfumo, Obert Chari and the late Oliver Mtukudzi, among many others. All these boast of huge followings on Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook.
Some artistes have actually gone to have their accounts verified by the various social media experts and these include Winky D, Tocky Vibes, Takura, Jah Prayzah, Stunner and Ninja Lipsy, among others.
A verified social media account means it is legitimate and is being managed by real professionals. This prevents fraud and protects a brand’s reputation.
Opportunities that come with a relevant social media presence are often underestimated, but are huge as liquid social media audiences are not only able to follow-up on their favourite artistes, but can also buy content that is shared on social media.
Artistes like Jah Prayzah have created some good online presence that have seen them gain more popularity. As a result, corporates are now even advertising their products on the artistes’ online spaces.
It must be noted that being on social media is a low-cost investment that at least requires one to have a smart phone with a good camera and data bundles.
While some are utilising these opportunities that come with being active on social media, it is disappointing to note that others, who may constitute the majority, are still shying away from this route and as a result failing to penetrate new markets.
Technology and online options are changing drastically, and there are many ways in which artistes can create good online presence for themselves.
With Facebook being one of the most popular social media platforms in Zimbabwe, there are only a few artistes who have managed to take advantage of the platform and create a huge following. Twitter is also another social media platform that Zimbabwean artistes have failed to take advantage of.
It seems as if some of them do not know how to use it or perhaps they see it as useless. Some artistes have less than 100 followers on their accounts and their activities online indicate having been used a long time back.
It appears our artistes need to attend social media use workshops to be educated on how to better use these platforms to improve their online presence. Artistes should be aware of those online platforms that suit them and their followers.
One way for artistes to create a good and notable online presence is by taking advantage of the rise in the number of blogs in Zimbabwe and abroad. Artistes and their publicists should learn to prepare Electronic Press Kits (EPKs) in order to send to blogs, informing them about developments in their careers.
Resultantly, people will always know what they will be up to.
It will definitely be embarrassing for an international artist to search for a radio chart-topping artiste on the internet and fail to find information. That will probably cost the Zimbabwean artiste a good collaboration that would have been very important to their career.
Those artistes with a fair online presence should also make sure that they leave good digital footprints in whatever they do because ‘the internet never forgets’. This will help them get endorsements from the corporate world since most of the corporates love to work with artistes who will not tarnish their image.
No matter how big or small an artiste is, having a good online presence is an added advantage to one’s career; they can be contacted from anywhere and at any given time, unlike the ones who are not active online. It may also even prove difficult for them to get bookings for lack of online contact details.
Again, having a good online presence also helps in building a strong brand. Nowadays, an artiste might not need a marketing company to market them; they can do it themselves. They can establish who they are on social media to their followers.
However, everything one posts on social media impacts their (personal) brand and it will be up to them to choose how they will want to be known.
Artistes need to be vibrant on social media and take advantage of the blogs they can access. It is not impressive to see an artiste having less than 200 followers on Twitter or Instagram, while others are making money out of it.
Ronald Magweta writes in his personal capacity