How far are you willing to go to gain followers? There’s a constant inclination on social media engagement and online activity – online digital media has indefinitely replaced traditional media. Brands and corporates are putting in a lot of money in online marketing collaborative brand partnerships and this has people desperate for followers.

Online viral video content creators and social media influencers are the go to for paid partnerships and advertising. Viral content has become a currency to this generation. The number of followers one has and things such as online presence are factors which play a key role in convergence and metrics such as pay per click (PPC), cost per click (CPC) and cost per view (CPV) determine how much money one could make. Social media influencers rely on clout to attract followers and they use these metrics to lure brand partnership deals and monetize.

The stakes are getting higher, social media is a billion dollar industry and its dominance is spreading at a rampant speed “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company plans to pay out $1 billion through 2022 to users who create content for its Facebook and Instagram social networks. It’s one way the company hopes to attract influencers to create content for its platforms as it competes with other popular services, such as TikTok” (Salvador Rodriguez, CNBC, July 2021).

influencer. Photo by Pixabay
influencer. Photo by Pixabay

Controversy has become more appealing than telling compelling narratives, and this has got kids messed up. I could equate this to how gangster rap had black youths thinking guns and drugs are cool. It’s one and the same thing, the youth is willing to do anything to trend even if it means negatively exposing themselves to the world. Oh, and don’t get me started with social media self-proclaimed scholars who believe their opinions are set in stone. Everyone likes to believe their ideas to be omniscient and omnipotent – it seems as if everyone has Phd of some sort and they are experts and therefore have better acumen than everyone else. There’s no room for constructive open dialogues, things always get out of hand and messages get lost in translation.

Hyper sexualism, antagonism, controversy, hate speech, mockery and trolling have become a part of our lives via social media. Influencers are willing to break an arm and a leg for the sake of relevancy. Just think about the viral video of the young school pupil from Limpopo, Mbilwi secondary school who committed suicide after she was bullied and violated by another pupil on camera. Not only was she abused and violated, it happened in front of the world to see and her perpetrator was cheered by other pupils. What about the recent passing of South African legendary actor Patrick Shai who committed suicide after a social media escapade. The culture of trolling and the hyper sexualization of women is appealing to the masses.

social Media world. Photo from Pixabay
social Media world. Photo from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, a South African young lady posted a picture of her private parts on Twitter and the picture went viral. Unmistakably, her strategy worked, she gained more followers. OnlyFans has become an online brothel of some sort, with users selling nudes and adult explicit content. “OnlyFans is a social media content sharing platform with statistics showing that there are more than 170 million registered subscribers and over 1.5 million content creators around the world. Let’s take a look at some OnlyFans statistics that might surprise you” (Jason Wise, EarthWeb, February 15, 2022).

Often too many times what trends is vile content and sad enough it has become a normality.

I have a love and hate relationship with social media, I acknowledge how it has created a platform for content creators, businesses, marketers and people to connect with the world. Take for example how it has accelerated the growth of Amapiano as a new genre and thus setting it to the world in a short space. Or how entrepreneurs market their businesses and people get jobs via social media. A couple of celebrities also do buy school uniforms and groceries for the needy and giveaway bursaries and or education aid via social media. I love the positive and empowering aspect of social media, what I have a qualm with its negativity.

mobile-phone. Photo from Pixabay
mobile-phone. Photo from Pixabay

PEOPLE are erratic. A high school teacher that told Moribego Madubanya that she wouldn’t be able to crack it in the media industry, has now become one of her fans.

“She posted on my Facebook page saying that she’s proud of me when I got nominated at the radio awards. I felt like commenting, saying ‘but you remember what you told me…’ but I didn’t, I just said thank you. That for me means I can do anything if I put my mind to and that I should never ever listen to someone tell me that I can’t do anything,” says Madubanya.

Popularly known as Ribi…Madubanya is growing her name as one the country’s dedicated young female radio content producers. In just months of her joining Alex FM, Madubanya was nominated in the National Community Radio Week Awards in two categories, The Best Talk Show and Best documentary show. “That was a huge deal for me. It meant I was on the right track. A few months after that, I got nominated at the Liberty awards, for Best content producer,” she says.

Having arrived in Gauteng in 2014 to pursue her media interests, the 23 year-old  did her three year course at Boston Media House where she got her Diploma. “At the same time, I was working for a local newspaper, Greater Alex. After I graduated I decided to do radio.”

She says she’ll never stop writing, as it is her first love- she still writes on her blog every Thursday. But she jumped at the opportunity to join Alex FM when, while working for a business magazine that didn’t stretch her creatively. “At the business magazine I felt like, I wasn’t allowed to be as creative as I want to be. I wanted something more challenging. So I came to Alex FM…I actually had been trying to come to Alex FM for a couple of times,” she says, bursting into laughter.

Thanks to an article she wrote on Greater Alex, which was read on air by 702 broadcaster John Robbie, when 702 had a partnership with the community radio station that saw Robbie co-host his show with the Alex FM breakfast show. “He read my article on Alex FM and 702 simultaneously, that’s when Alex FM management started taking me serious.”

With no radio experience to her name, Madubanya was thrown into the deep when management put her in the drive time show to produce that coveted slot. “There was no producer for that show and management said ‘here’s a vacancy let’s see what you can do’ and in less than a year I had three award nominations.”

Management was impressed by the young lady from Botlokwa in Limpopo. Now that she’s solidified her name as content producer, she’s getting familiar with being in front of the mic and camera. “I do go on air, once in a while as a stand-in. It’s something I’m definitely looking into, for the future…I’ll be more on air and in front of the camera as time goes,” she says.

She has also worked as a line producer for musical film, Go Getta. “I want to be a media mogul. I come from Botlokwa and not a many people from there are in the media industry.”

Madubanya recalls a time when she was in high school, during the holidays when she had a recorder with her and wanted to interview some of the kids in the village on the device but was barred from doing so by her late grandmother. “I feel like when you’re from the village, you’re kinda forced to shrink yourself and not be a big dreamer. She said I can’t use the recorder there because people will think I’m trying to be better than them. ”

Reluctantly, she tucked the recorder away. “I felt like I had to be apologetic about my dreams. I feel that’s wrong.” With the work she’s doing now, she’s laying the foundation for other kids where she comes from and also reaffirming their dreams.

As the country celebrates women’s month, Madubanya believes women are still being seen as sexual objects-she gets asked questions like ‘who did you sleep with’ whenever award nominations come her way. “In every industry, there’s still patriarchy.”

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