Ngozi Odita: Social Media Week Around the World

February 26 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Staying Sane on Social Media

In January, our editor here at On The Dot wrote about millennial burnout and offered some sage advice for lessening anxiety before the burnout bug bites you. She suggests you forge your own path, forgetting about what might be the “right” way to go about a career and doing what makes sense to you instead. That includes location—just because everyone’s got a “New York state of mind” doesn’t mean it jives with you. Another solid tip? Avoid. Social. Media. Or, at least have some boundaries, ladies. Instagram can either enrich your life or chip away at it. Choose to follow those who inspire you rather than those who only inspire self-criticism.


One of the ways social media can, indeed, inspire you is that it offers up a way to see a diverse point of view. Later this week, I'll share the story of one of those Instagrammers: Maria Qamar, who is giving Desi girls a welcomed point of view. While social media might be booming with diversity, our newsrooms aren’t. In 2017, only 5.1 percent of employees in newspaper newsrooms were black.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ngozi Odita, Executive Director at Social Media Week Lagos

Ngozi Odita is the co-founder and executive director of Social Media Week Lagos, or SMWLagos. SMWLagos is based in Lagos, Nigeria and unites thought leaders, entrepreneurs and even everyday people to share ideas. It’s produced by Ngozi’s media and production company, AFRIKA21.

With a mission to generate and disseminate opportunities that exist in Africa, Ngozi has a belief that your dreams can be done in your very own city, your very own country. There’s no need to head to the states to pursue an American dream because Nigeria has loads to offer. By leading content creators to produce photo essays and video shorts, individuals are able to get their ideas out there on the platform that unites us regardless of location: the internet.

This year’s social week happened in early February and offered insightful classes, networking events, workshops and round table discussions. From learning the impacts of social media during election time to coping with professional failure, esteemed and up-and-coming folks provided a nuanced voice to the digital era.

One of the talks focused on “The Women of Wordpress.” A handful of women entrepreneurs, from branding to network security, explored how women can gain influence through proficiency in a particular web application.

But Ngozi knows that while conversation is crucial to broadening Nigeria’s influence, so, too, is data. Throughout the year, SMWLagos publishes white papers, research and other data to give influencers and content creators up-to-date information about technology.

When Ngozi started SMWLagos six years ago, she had one major concern: Will people show up? As participants and attendees streamed in to that first event, Ngozi’s anxieties eased. Now, she’s expanding SMWLagos’s reach each year and is even bringing investors on board. Ngozi says the conference is measured against other big-time events, like SXSW and Web Summit. Her goal isn’t to just be the biggest, best thing in Africa, but in the world.

What’s struck me about Ngozi is that she shares her weaknesses, what she wants to improve on. For instance, even though SMWLagos has an insane amount of engagement compared to other cities, she thinks they could improve on their PR element. There’s no complacency or sense of being happy with the status quo. That’s why we have no doubt Ngozi will continue to do great things.


Another woman who we admire, Michelle Obama, said:

"Success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives."

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