Years ago, researchers at Harvard University made three predictions:

First, in the coming year, there would be more changes than ever before. Second in the coming year, there would be more competition than ever before. Third, in coming year, there would be more opportunities than ever before.

The conclusion; those who do not adjust to the rapid rate of change, respond to the increase in competition or take advantage of the new opportunities available would be out of their jobs within two years.

I think this pretty much summarizes the lessons for bloggers and brands from the West Africa Bloggers Conference, Lagos 2015.

There is a shift in how people share and consume information. Yesterday, it was email, today its Facebook, then Instagram. Oh, is it mobile or video? What’s next? It’s all about the survival of a species; your digital presence and relevance.

If you are wondering what you missed, here is my personal summary of 10 take home lessons for bloggers and businesses from the just concluded West Africa Bloggers Conference in Lagos. There is no way I could include everything I learned from the different speakers. They all impacted in their own style.

  1. Brands are waiting for ‘Bloggers’

Tomijogun Ogunlesi, the Brand Management Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank PLC got brands and bloggers thinking from a PR perspective.

Few years back, getting your business online was the trend. It was a big deal. Suddenly every one could get online in a snap. Then it was getting on social media and acquiring followers. Big deal. Soon everyone could pay their way to amass followers. Who cares if you have 20,000 fans on Facebook if they aren’t converting to customers?

People are drifting away from traditional marketing and advertising to lifestyle marketing. Brands are now turning this way; and are ready to associate with online platforms that can creatively help users gain interest in their products. And bloggers are at the center of this movement.

  1. “If you want to be Linda Ikeji, you are 5 years late…” – Lanre Aina, Business Development Manager at Google Nigeria.

You see, the influx of new bloggers into digital publishing isn’t surprising. After all there is almost zero entry barrier. It becomes disturbing when most are trying to imitate the Linda Ikeji blogging model. The problem is that this ship is already filled up and sailing. And considering the shift in trends, even bloggers like Linda needs to consider, innovating. After all, it turned out Titanic wasn’t indestructible. Here is an opportunity, as suggested by Lanre, to gain dominance into the content publishing space.

  1. Video Blogging is huge guys

Google is the largest search engine in the world. Guess the second largest… YouTube. Do you know that Nigerian’s watch more YouTube videos on their mobile phones than desktop? Video blogging – Vlogging is huge. V is the new phase of Blogging without the B. And big brands are moving to YouTube for marketing. Lanre passionately shared convincing stories, facts and stats on the opportunities in video blogging. We’re grateful man!

  1. If you are confused about the difference between bloggers & Journalists, you are not alone

Bayero Agabi, the Managing Editor of Cyber Africa, started his session by asking the audience the difference between a blogger and a journalist. Varying responses from the audience. Followed by agreements and disagreements. He settled the dust by saying that this indistinction is similar with every audiences he has asked the same question, across Africa and Middle East. It’s an industry thing. Bloggers and journalists are doing about the same job of reporting information. Journalists are trained to report objectively, and are guided by specified ethics. Bloggers have their passion and conscience to guide their work. However, Journalists and the traditional media need to be creative and adaptive to remain relevant.

  1. “Dig, dig, dig until you find gold” Bayo Adekambi, the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria,

He used this phase during his presentation and it quickly became a mantra throughout the event. To summarize his session: There are 3 types of bloggers; content creators, content curators and content cremators. Shared a case study of how he employed a blogger (content creator) to work with MTN without considering her lack of academic qualification. Be original, expressive and shun the cut-and-paste style of blogging (Content Cremator). Be a content creator. Then keep digging into your niche and passion, until you find gold.

  1. Think about your audience when promoting your blog

Blogging goes beyond your online activity. You should dress your blog, speak your blog and even live your blog. These were some of the high points by Alero Ladipo, Chief Marketing Officer of Smile Communication. She advised bloggers to think from the audience point of view when promoting their blog. Internalize what your blog is about and be able to sell it online or offline at every given opportunity.

  1. “If you are not tracking you will lose track” Uyi Omoide Digital Marketing Manager, Smile Communications

Uyi educated bloggers on the basics to use Google Analytics to track visitors’ behavior on their website. If you are not tracking, you are losing insights and information on how your website is really performing. In his words “Sh*tty traffic would kill your blog now or in the future”.

  1. Most brands don’t want to associate with gossip blogs

About two brands made it clear that they would not advertise on Linda Ikeji’s blog because they don’t want to associate their brands with gossip. If you are building an audience around a purpose driven blog, you are in good company. Keep at it. You could score some good points with a major brand and strike a good deal.

  1. Stealing other people’s intellectual property can be costly

Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications & Public Affairs Manager at Google Nigeria challenged bloggers to be more original with how to use other people’s content online. There are creative ways to use other people’s content without infringing copyright.

  1. Free can actually be valuable

A final note: Strive to adjust to change, respond to the increase in competition and take advantage of the new opportunities.

Article by Ikenna Odinaka