By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
Certain things guide me in life and by extension, social media. My name is important to me as well as my reputation. My reputation depends to a large extent on what people think of me. It is a function of people’s perception of my persona and character. While I have no control on what people think of me, I have 100% control over how I behave and what my values are (character). Earlier in my life, I mastered the distinction between fame and popularity. I will like to have both but if I can’t, I prefer to be popular. Why? To be famous is to be well known, while to be popular is to be well-liked. A person can be well known for a bad reputation.
Social media is a double edge sword. Popularity is currency here. Over the years, I have built my brand on truth, even when it hurts. I have built my reputation on integrity. To wield influence on social media is work and a long process. I do not take the high level of trust that I have built and my large following for granted. I understand and appreciate the power of social media. In the last 6 years, there is no public place I have been, including world airports without someone walking up to me, to say hi. They ask me with so much excitement; B.A.O can I take a picture with you? While I relish the attention, I’m also afraid of the burden, that confidence and affection places on me.
We are in the age of Influence. We all do social proofing. For those who do not know what that is. Social proofing happens when we copy the actions of others in an attempt to emulate behavior in certain situations. Robert Caldini coined Social Proof in 1984. I have engaged in social proofing today. How? I read reviews of other buyers on a jacket I want. I used the recommendation of others to influence my decision. It had 4.8 ratings. I ordered it after reading the reviews. That is social proofing.
Social Proofing is the reason why companies and individuals hire influencers to mention them or post updates on their product or services on their walls. They understand that influencer recommendations serve as a form of social proof to their brand’s potential customers.
As usual, Nigerians are good at destroying what others build. Influencer marketing built on trust and respect of the influencer is now being used to promote investment scams, questionable products or services and to promote shady characters. In the last one week, so much scandal has erupted on Facebook on account of misuse and abuse of trust by influencers.
Personally, I have not leveraged my large following for profit. I have declined many offers. I guard my brand equity jealously. Besides, I am difficult to please as a customer. Those who know me knows that my biggest weakness is that I am VERY FASTIDIOUS. I am an unapologetic perfectionist. My living space is inscrutably surgical. I also value my name. I mention people on my wall. I celebrate my friends and I do so without prompting. When I describe anyone, that is who they are. I used exact adjectives that describes them. I do not flatter. Any product or service I have mentioned here, I have used and found to be of high standards. I do not mention people because they asked. Asking automatically nullifies the person. I do things on my own volition.
I do all these not to impress anyone, but to live by my own standards – a life of order and rational expectations. I always disclose my priors. When I joined politics, I made it public. I have told you I will campaign and promote politicians that I like or I am aligned with. You may or may not like them, it is your choice…freewill. However, I will not come here and promote dubious characters in the name of politics. I will not defend rubbish for partisan reasons.
Someday, I may accept payment in lieu of endorsement and or promotion. I will disclose it. If it is an investment, I will NOT promote any investment in which I am not an investor. I will not promote nor endorse a product or service that I have not used and found to be of excellent quality. I have used products and services here that I paid for and found to be of low quality. I declined to mention them.
Dear friends, integrity is everything. Your reputation should mean a lot to you. Money isn’t everything. People may cheer you on for ruining your reputation. It is the society we live in, a society of perverse values where money and status are worshipped. Do not turn yourself into a source of entertainment. A good name is worth its weight in gold.