The Media Blog: Let’s talk about media and ‘The forbidden experiment’

Legend has it that King James IV once stretched, yawned and thought to himself ‘hm – what language would babies speak if they didn’t have any humans to learn language from?’

And – because he is a king, duh – he was able to hijack a few babies and place them in the care of mute (or dumb) caretakers and the poor babies were made to grow.

Legend (it’s just so delicious, saying ‘legend’) has it that these babies grew up to speak Hebrew, and several scientists (including me, by the way) have called the results of the King’s study utter bullshit.

Fun fact: it’s called the ‘forbidden experiment’ because of the level of isolation and psychological deprivation the subjects have to endure for this experiment. Some schools of thought (mine) think it’s probably called ‘forbidden’ because, maybe, if we discover the ‘original language’ spoken in the Garden of Eden, that would spell the end for all of civilization.

And now to the point: media platforms in Nigeria are currently running a number of experiments, trying to find a differentiating voice that reaps the benefit of being the number one platform of the country’s millennials. And they want to do it with swag, too – they want something upscale, you know, none of that Linda Ikeji business (even though it obviously works.)

What to do, what to do? Well, as it turns out it’s currently a game of monkey see, monkey do – where the Inspiring Monkey is BuzzFeed. It’s like, ah, BuzzFeed has mixed the perfect brew in the cauldron of virality and everyone must now fetch, or attempt to mix their own formula.

I invite everyone to try the Forbidden Experiment, but for Young Millennials. You can never beat BuzzFeed by being a crappy BuzzFeed. The thing to do, obviously, is be a viral platform that appeals strongly to the Nigerian millennial. (And maybe the African millennial, but let’s start small, yes?)

To do that, you have to isolate the Nigerian millennial (by way of data), and observe how they interact with local content.

Here are four notes we have made from personal experiments in 2016:
– Nigerians are big on information they can consume in snippets.
– Nigerians are big on discussing (and perhaps belligerently) polar topics, so platforms that cater to both sides will always pull in both sides of the consuming fence.
– Political stories are literal gold – and for some reason, many people think Nigerian millennials do not care about politics that much. It’s often de-prioritized in favor of lifestyle-related content. Infuse all the elements of viral content (trendy, short and conferring a sense of ‘genius’ to the sharer) and you too can cash out with politics.
– Everybody’s hopping on video, but most of them are lagging behind on actual content. Most of what’s happening is just people clumsily repurposing articles. SAD.

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