I think I am the most unsocial media-ish person I know. I love my privacy and social media is all about inviting the world into your bedroom which, apart from being exhausting, is something I don’t particularly adhere to.
I was already set in my principles of privacy before social media became what it is now. Despite that, I have a love-hate relationship with it and I’m mostly online about 17 hours daily. I’m partial to the myriad of information and learning opportunities it offers me yet barely tolerate the narcissistic effect attached to the usage of it.
Once, I had a conversation with my boss and sang a line from Praiz’s “Rich and Famous”. Giving me the side eye she asked, “Then why is your Instagram not popping?”
After a pause, I said, “Actually, I don’t want to be famous, I don’t like the intrusiveness. I love peace; you can’t have peace with fame. Peace and money are what I seek but I also want fame in my field. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, it does. You want to be a thought leader,” she said.
Eureka! Her response gave me insight into things I’d been pondering on at the time. Taking it upon myself to get more answers I researched and was able to compile a list of women I admire, creating big impacts, who shockingly have a small following compared to some who are not as influential as them offline. In fact, some have similar following with an average Instagram user.
- Ndidi Okonkwo-Nwuneli: (4,629 followers) Ndidi is a businesswoman who understands that having multiple streams of income is a vital way towards successful entrepreneurship. She is the Founder of LEAP Africa (youth and leadership empowerment platform), Co-founder of AACE Foods (social enterprise for local farm products, empowering the agriculture sector in West Africa) and Co-founder of Sahel (a company that enhances West Africa’s agricultural sector, boosting its potential and economic growth).
Ndidi is highly considered as a thought leader across board, she has also been instrumental in the development of youths, businesses, resources, and industries. With all she continues to do, one would expect her social media recognition to be more than it is right now, amassing a huge following on her personal page. Alas, this is where numbers don’t hold sway and the level of followers don’t speak about the level of the person being followed.
- Ngozi Odita: (2,049 followers) She is a Creative Director, Public Speaker, Strategist, Consultant and Founder of AFRIKA21 (media, production and consulting company). As Co-founder and Executive Director of the SMWLagos – Social Media Week Lagos, Ngozi has brought awareness to the importance of social media in Africa’s largest country, Nigeria -in one of its most populous cities, Lagos. It is therefore very shocking that she has few followers because you would expect someone who organizes a social media event to have a huge following across social platforms. However, that is not the case. Without saying, this goes to show that the power of your influence is not often necessitated by what you do or don’t do online.
- Sonia Irabor: (2,529 followers) Known as the Editor of Genevieve magazine Sonia is also a travel columnist who began her writing career when she was a teenager. Passionate about doing her job based on merit she has partially succeeded in moving away from her parents shadow (Betty and Soni Irabor) by carving a niche for herself. As a millennial it’s quite surprising that she doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter page, only just creating an Instagram account in 2017. But it’s not so surprising that she’s got her hands in other pies; asides from editing Genevieve magazine from top to bottom Sonia is a travel buff who moonlights as an actress on web series, Man of Her Dreams.
- Chief Nike Okundaye Davis: (23k followers) Fondly referred to as a professor without a formal degree, Chief Nike will be the first to tell you that she stopped her formal schooling at primary six while continually praising the females in her life (Mother, Grandmother, and Great-grandmother) for teaching her all that she knows. Chief Nike is recognized world over for her contribution and aid to modern African art. She is most popular for her batik and adire works.
She has mentored many artists to find their feet in the world of art and make money while pursuing their heart. She helps girls and single mothers find balance in life by training them in art and craft, giving youths opportunities to become better in the world. Just watching her interviews and reading about her gives you an insight that the women is a light and she keeps spreading her brightness. However, the Rhodes University honoree will be the first person to tell you she is not social media savvy and has no interest in gadgets, therefore it’s safe to say that her Instagram page is being handled by a social media manager.
- Chief Aino Oni-Okpaku: While not on social media, the owner of Quintessence is really a woman worth recognition. Her Lagos based department store has been instrumental in promoting Nigerian art and local artisans. Nike Okundaye Davies is one of many artists that was represented by Quintessence; ever before she established her galleries she sold her wares in the store.
Chief Aino established Quintessence alongside her husband in 1967; the store has since involved from an electronic shop to become a mix of an art gallery, exhibition spot, and a store. In the ’60s Chief Aino studied textiles arts at the School of Arts and Crafts, Goteborg, Sweden, and established a studio in Stockholm afterward which she ran for nine years. Later on, she received a grant from the Association of Swedish Arts and crafts in 1967; a Fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Association, a Fullbright grant and a grant for research from World Crafts Council. She also bagged a scholarship from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, California. Chief Aino came about her chieftaincy title from Ogotun-Ekiti in the ’90s after getting involved in Mariam Babangida’s Better Life for Rural Women programme and becoming the artistic coordinator for Lagos Trade Fair which had Princess Diana and Prince Charles in attendance.
The list above highlights women who are considered thought leaders in their field or at the very least, at the helm of control in their industry. These Nigerian women, though quite influential, are mostly overlooked by the general social media loving public despite the fact that they do things to help boost the economy and mentor/help others to do the same. They’re the epitome of the phrase “we rise by lifting others” and they continue to do so without thought or a need to be validated and applauded for their deeds. Meanwhile, not to be left out, below is a list of women who are also just as impactful. The only difference between these women and those listed above is their online followership.
- Mo Abudu: (476k followers) In an interview once, she disclosed that the only reason she paid attention to her online presence was when her media company was threatened to be dropped by a sponsor company if she didn’t develop her social media following. The ultimatum and being in the business of media led her to become active on social media, growing her social audience more. She ultimately grew her TV audience, satisfied her client and boost her brand by sticking to those terms. She has since adjusted her social media lifestyle while continuing her career as a top media personality and expanding her show business to include a TV and film production company EbonyLife, co-creator/creator of some of Nigeria’s highest grossing films; The Wedding Party 1&2, Chief Daddy Royal Hibiscus Hotel and more.
- Betty Irabor: (81.4k followers) Founder of Genevieve Magazine. Author of the popular book, Dust to Dew and overall self-starter and motivator. You can get a daily dose of inspiration on her Twitter and Instagram. Despite her huge Instagram following Betty Irabor emphasizes the importance of privacy; “Be careful not to be an over-sharer. It doesn’t mean you don’t have other pies in the oven, it means you’re not making all those pies in the sky statements to impress. Let it manifest. When you’re sure about your journey, you don’t need external validation”
- Genevieve Nnaji: (5.3m followers) Asides from being one of Nigeria’s top actress Genevieve has received recognition for achieving a feat in Nollywood. Her movie, Lionheart, which she featured in and directed, was acquired by Netflix making it the first Nigerian movie to become a Netflix original. She is a risk taker who plunged into better tidings after her ban from Nollywood years ago, veering into real estate, fashion, producing and now directing. She is a quiet achiever who keeps her fans intrigued by constantly springing up surprises of her achievements.
- Latasha Nguwbe: (54.8k followers) Starting her career as a fashion writer, style columnist, and later editor, Latasha has written for various style magazines including ThisDay Style and Vanguard Allure. Becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian fashion scene she took the industry by storm with her passion for promoting the beauty and confidence of being plus size. Her business is confidence and she rocks it like no other; finding ways to market it with her platform About That Curvy Life, including showcasing some of its fashion collections in various fashion weeks. Latasha is a bold no-holds-barred fireball who also dabbles in TV presenting.
- Laila Johnson-Salami: (12.4k followers) Laila is wrapped up in intrigue; as a young person she has managed to have her voice heard in the world of politics, influencing Nigerians as best she can to become involved in government activities. As a podcaster, vlogger, speaker, and writer she has spread her reach into different industries ensuring that people are aware of the importance of governance. In 2018, she collaborated with Nigerian rapper Falz to launch a vlog, On the Couch with Falz & Laila, co-hosting with him to interview political candidates of the 2019 Nigerian elections. Through this and more she continues to make people aware of the impact of politics in society.
Overall, ever since that eureka moment and in the course of sifting through ideas and getting more insights I have come to fully understand that whether your Instagram rocks or not, whether you have millions of followers or none at all, the most important thing to deeply consider and concentrate on is what you do outside of social media. Ultimately that’s what matters and that’s what will give you great content for making your social media pop. Consider though; wouldn’t you love to pay someone else to handle your social media platforms because you’re too busy ruling the world and impacting society positively?
Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @glamogen