Yasmine Bilkis Ibrahim and a team of equally active tweeters organised the first meet and greet for the #SaloneTwitter community on September 21, this year. Insight Media and Communications caught up with her to ask why Twitter, and what this initiative aims to achieve?
Q. What prompted the #SaloneTwitter meet and greet?
Well, about 3 months or so ago, back in June, Marco Koroma (@marco_krm) and I were talking about the possibility of meeting all the Twitter users in Salone that we interact with on a day to day basis, not having any real of idea of who they are or what they look like. I realised in my late teens and early 20s that having grown up in the world of social media, I have met a substantial number of good friends online. I wanted to organise a meet and greet so that others could meet one another and continue those online conversations offline.
Q. Why Twitter and not some of the other social media platforms – FB, Instagram, LinkedIn for example?
Twitter is a niche of its own in Sierra Leone. For those who like banter, for those who like to read and compose messages — Twitter is for you. I figured the other social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp etc have their communities where users do meet but not Twitter. I wanted something different. Plus, I am more active on Twitter so I decided, why not?
Q. How influential do you think the Sierra Leonean Twitter scene is professionally, socially, politically?
I think like many other sectors and aspects in Sierra Leone, it has potential for growth and the need is there. I have seen a good number of professionally and politically driven tweets and movements in Sierra Leone. Granted we are a country of only seven million, but our voices can be amplified on Twitter.
Q. What sort of changes have you noticed in Twitter use among Sierra Leoneans in the past one to two years?
Would it be mean to say the correct usage of hashtags? LOL
On a serious note, I have noticed the #SaloneTwitter community definitely increase, especially post-Ebola and during the recent elections. It appears that during crises or in times of extreme urgency we come together and voice our opinions, but it shouldn’t be that way. Good or bad, Twitter should be a major outlet and source for all things Salone!
Q. What makes #SaloneTwitter different from Salone Facebook?
Apart from the size obviously, I believe that there is substantive and lucrative content on Twitter, that you just can’t get on Facebook. Facebook is for snooping, tea and daily congosa — but Twitter is for the play by play of how things go down. By using the hashtags you can connect with others in your community or your next destination. Twitter is a better connecting tool for my purpose, (I feel) than Facebook.
Q. What is the #SaloneTwitter meet and greet intended to achieve?
The #SaloneTwitter meet and greet is phase one of a three-phase project. Our aim is to create a database of (young) Sierra Leonean professionals that offers a network for support, and also encourages us to shop and conduct business with other Sierra Leoneans.
Q. How much time do you personally spend on Twitter?
I can’t skip this question can I? Haha, I don’t spend a shameful amount to be honest. I am on it daily. Perhaps anywhere between one to one and a half hours a day.
Q. How long have you been on Twitter and why did you join?
I’ve been on Twitter for nine years now. I joined Twitter back in high school because their media game was strong. I saw the app always popping up on my Facebook feed and I figured, why not?
Q. What makes a successful Salone Tweet?
I believe a successful Salone tweet is one that is thought provoking, it engages others and is authentic.
Q. Who else is on the #SaloneTwitter team?
On the #SaloneTwitter team there is Sociology student - Mariam Jalloh (@mariamjalloh99), PR manager Trevor King (@jex_king) and Agricultural enthusiast Juanah Bellay (@JNBellay).
Q. What would you say to those who aren’t yet on Twitter?
For those who aren’t on Twitter…what’re you waiting for? Join! It’s simple, free & fun!
Q. How would you like to see #SaloneTwitter develop?
As I mentioned earlier, #SaloneTwitter is a three phase project. Phase one is the meet and greet. Phase two is a day conference where we hope to engage internet users, stakeholders etc and have a panel of digital contributors and curators in Sierra Leone discussing the challenges and rewards of working in a country with a low digital penetration rate, low accessibility to internet and where data is very expensive. Phase three is the conclusion, recapping on the two events and presenting the way forward. I would like to see us develop into a directory and a one stop shop for everything Sierra Leonean and millennial.
Q. Do you think Twitter has a role in the Sierra Leonean business environment and if so what?
Absolutely. Twitter’s role in the business environment can be advantageous to business owners. By setting up your notifications to get alerts about keywords specific to your brand or business you can grow your client base and relate to your existing clients. You can get feedback from customers and potential customers. Testing services/products on Twitter can help as well.