While Theophile Kouamouo, Jean-Patrick Ehouman, and possibly even my humble self run a campaign for Ivorians to get more interested in producing content for the web, I wanted to highlight someone I think does an exceptionally good job of using new media – and it’s rather unexpected. Ema Lohoues has been famous long before I ever got to Abidjan, and she’s currently winning plaudits for her role as the leading lady in Le Mec Ideal. What I’ve never seen noted in public though is that the actress-model-IT girl with a reputation for changing outfits and hairstyles quicker than the rest of us change our socks is the best example of someone I know of in Ivory Coast using social media to share her life and build a brand.
Ivory Coast has many celebrity cultural stars – Meiway, Magic System, DJ Arafat, Didier Drogba – but where are any of them right now? That’s right, what are they doing at the moment? The fact is they all do a very bad job of communicating. No doubt they have the latest smart phones which give them the ability to communicate from anywhere in the world, take mega-pixel photos and record HD video – but they’re not. Or at least they’re not sharing their media content with us. What seems odd is that they have the tools for modern mass communication and in many cases the need to build a following, but they don’t.
Ema, is in China. I know this, not because my blog is being inundated with Ema-related searches from China (which it is), but because she’s posting Facebook updates and photos.
For many Ivorians, I fear the internet is considered something for geeks. Yet Ema Lohoues is far from a geek. She’s frequently late for meetings, rather disorganised and probably doesn’t know her RSS from her html. But through her activities on Facebook she’s building a brand – sharing her travels, her awards, the tribulations of living through the battle for Abidjan…she’s building a following and communicating her life online.
What we don’t see is a scatter-gun approach and Ema could probably lead a seminar on e-reputation. There’s a clear demarcation between her public and private life, the latter of which we don’t ever find out much about. There’s a private Facebook profile, as well as a public one and a page. I even recently came across a new business of hers which has a Facebook page called Beautiful Imperfections, which has some behind-the-scenes photos from a recent photo shoot for a leading mobile phone company. That’s the sort of content I should find on the phone companies blog but they don’t bother to share it.
So, three cheers to Ema, the girl with a reputation for being a ditzy blond (well she’s sometimes blond) and who goes to Hollywood Blvd for drinks rather than barcamp, but who shows the rest of us how to build a brand online. The new government, the country’s multi-million dollar companies, and a range of cultural artists looking to attract attention would do well to study her example.