Thursday, May 3, 2018

Visual narratives: business models


By Innocent Swai

There are many benefits arising from our modern communication technologies. One example, given the culture of reading is not being our thing, we can now create better alternatives using visual narratives.

The new digital platforms have made it possible for some companies to build detailed and sophisticated profiles on users’ likes, dislikes, lifestyles and even political preferences.

The mobile phones supported by different apps like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp are making this reality very possible. Today, with millions of app for everything you can imagine from flashlight using your mobile camera to see in the dark to shazam, an app which helps you find out the title of every song at the moment of hearing it. Everything is within your fingertips.

Now, ideas are becoming the best business model ever invented. While big companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and others are busy inventing or buying their upcoming toddler competitors, sometimes they miss such opportunities by overlooking at them.

In few seconds, a new company Giphy, which Facebook overlooked and even ignored it; is thinking of revolutionising their business model. It is taking its time as it has already forced all the major media companies whether they like it or not, to partner with it in doing what it does at its best.

Giphy, basically is the primary destination and distribution service of the known looping images called GIFs, which operates at the speed of our cultures.

People love using Giphy to express their emotions in perfect ways among other things. Even big producers are coming up with “live GIF” creating those seconds-long video loops to enliven digital conversations and getting them shared all over.

This is a game changer as crazy and fun reaction shots, a flying bird in the hands of its owner turning into a running cat; cats clapping, clips of an animated former President Obama dropping his microphone at a function—this is the new adapted visual narrative being adopted as a common language all over the world. It has no language barriers. This is coming from Giphy, a young company, responsible for popularizing this new form of communicating. The limitless nature of GIFs communication has given it what was lacking in a text-messaging platform being used currently. Hence, making it more meaningful and powerful. As such it is the new kind of social currency with millions of users on a daily basis.

The unbreakable Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Google monopolies poised to dominate for the foreseeable business models are shaking, thus, why it’s called conventional wisdom. Wherever it appears followers and supporters just see the opportunity to join the bandwagon.

As technology is becoming a commodity. I believe the differentiator is creativity and innovation with such new designs.

In Tanzania and Africa in general, if we master the art of creative thinking with proper use of social innovations, we can imitate, import and adapt technologies at low cost with minimum cultural risks. Our governments’ and the private sector institutions are in need of cultural roots to grow and thrive while deliberately concentrating key resources on social innovations.

The lack of simplicity caused by monopolies of those giant companies which are using their resources in catalyzing an extraordinary transfer in wealth from the creators to the platforms. However, time is coming for them to face the same scrutiny and standards the rest of business endures.

Mr Swai is the content director for MobiAd Africa Tanzania Ltd which offers mobile and digital advertising services