Obasanjo’s Internet – Tosin Akinbo

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Did you know that there are approximately 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide? Can you imagine all the different ways in which we all use the internet? Obasanjo’s Internet is our interview series where we speak to some of our internet favourites on how they relate to the internet and what it means to them and their work. This week, Tosin Akinbo, Director of Marketing at Troniq Music talks to us about how he uses Obasanjo’s Internet

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

I grab my phone because it sleeps right beside my head most times, then I look at my lock screen to see if I’ve gotten any credit alerts, work emails or messages. I don’t open the phone, I just look through the notifications. 

How do you use the internet for work or pleasure?

I use the internet for everything. I use it for work, pleasure and for therapy sometimes. I use the internet when I want to update my knowledge, research, submit a document or when I’m executing with influencers. The skeleton of my job requires organic thinking, but the execution for my job needs everything on the internet.

For therapy, there are times when I’m in my world and I don’t wanna have physical interactions with people because I’m not in the mental space to do so. But strolling through the internet, the algorithm somehow works to appease your mood. I just stumble on motivational videos or videos that are relatable to the challenges. Although they are not long, they will make you feel good in the moment and can lead you to make better decisions in the interim. The algorithm is in my favour when I’m in a sad mood. 

What moment or episode in your life would you say captured the essence of the internet?

I was working as an intern in an agency and that was the first core digital experience I had, I mean, that’s what even trained me. As I was learning things, I was also practicing them. I learnt a lot of digital stuff; ads, google ads, content creation and how to position all these things, which I used on various notable companies my agency worked with. I realised that everything we did for these brands were converting so I decided to implement some of them on my brand.

I did a merchandise giveaway for my brand and told people to reply to #TosinAkinboPR for a chance to win, and they did. Then one of my friends texted me like “yo bro, you’re trending” I was like “me? trending? where?” and he sent a screenshot of it.

That was when I started understanding the power of building traffic. It gave me the essence of digital marketing and everything I was trying to do. If only five people had replied to the hashtag that day, I wouldn’t have trended but a lot of people wanted to win the merchandise so they kept replying and replying. I understood that all you need to do is build traffic and then you become a household name or people will know you. I can imagine how many people who saw that hashtag that day and were like “what the fuck is this thing trending?” They didn’t know me from anywhere but they were curious enough to click on it to find out what was going on. When I realized that you can generate traffic from the internet in a way that would turn your life around overnight, I’m like, “you know what?” I want to start doing this for people. I want to dedicate my time, my life to building people’s brands or image; to get people traffic through this same channel but also through various strategies. That was what turned me into a strategist – I wanted to hack the internet. 

Your favourite social media platform and why?

Snapchat! Wow! Because we are smooth criminals. You can’t have any record of us chatting, ever. I can be anything I want to be on Snap. I can be serious, I can go to the club, I can go to meetings and everybody still understands that this is Tosin Akinbo.

I see Snapchat as the realistic real time platform that actually makes people accept you for you because 98% of people that use Snapchat post in real time. 98% of the people on Instagram are posting vacations from five months ago. Snapchat is also safer in terms of people not saving your chats, nobody is taking screenshots. It’s not like i’m doing any trafficking or drug dealing or anything, but you know, there are conversations that I have with people – down to people that I even do business with. I’ve started a business conversation on Snapchat for N10 million, closed it there, gotten credited and the whole chat cleared and the execution still went smoothly. It’s just one place where if I don’t open your message, you can’t know if I’m online. Snapchat is the safest place to run away from drama. It’s a controlled place; you can’t see who is following me, I can’t see who’s following you. The privacy is top notch actually.

What was the last meme you saved?

Do you remember the first time something you posted went viral? What was it? How did it make you feel?

I’ve had some viral tweets but one that I can remember was about myself. I think I had like 10k likes and it was for a tweet about my appendicitis surgery. It was during the pandemic lockdown which was a very tough one for me because it was hard accessing funds, getting to the hospital, my operation, having a friend who stole from my operation money. And then when I came back I was grateful. I just put it out as a story like, “oh this is what I’ve been through and I just thank God”. A lot of people have gone through the surgery, I don’t know why that really went viral to be very honest.

What’s the most outrage you have ever generated over something you posted? How did you react to it?

I’ve never been dragged. It’s hard to say, but I’ve never been dragged. I tend to understand the dynamics of social media. Everybody has their challenges so I try not to overstep. I also don’t want anyone who is not even doing as good as quarter of my cleaner’s life, talkless of me, to sit down somewhere and drag me. 

I’ve never had a crazy outrage and, yeah, even when I was talking about Boy Spyce on Twitter, on a normal day conversations like that would have backlash but because of how much I understand these platforms, I choose my words carefully when I’m pissed to ensure that even when you want to drag me, you look very dumb. Maybe because this is my job, I know how to maneuver it. 

What rules do you live by on the internet?

I just enjoy being real and I’m not trying to be in anybody’s conversation.

Two years ago, a friend tweeted that the reason she likes me is that as much as I know people or I have access to people of influence, I don’t put my mouth into anything that’s trending. You won’t find me coming to talk about big brother like that, or one housemate except they’re my friend. I even have two friends in the house and I’ve not posted a tweet about them. I am not interested in trending topics because I feel like it’s over-saturated. 

What is your guiltiest online pleasure?

I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure but I can be online for a week straight but then you’d think I’m going through the worst life crisis because I’ll stay quiet. I’ll be able to tell you what has happened the whole week on social media and you wey dey online sef, you no know wetin dey sup. 

Would you say you have an online persona?

I feel like I have an online persona that has shot me in the leg. I’m a corporate boy, I like to look serious, I like to look inspiring and all of that stuff and along the line, I went into parties, lifestyle and nightlife. 

The reason I’d say I have an online persona is because when I tend to dive into my serious corporate life, I have almost no engagements. No body tries to fuck with that. It’s like I’m a wanna be “serious guy” who is a marketing executive, but that’s the real job that pays me. Party is just on the side. I’ve realised that the personality my audience enjoys is the party, jovial, going on vacations, wearing cool clothes, wearing ice guy. I even stopped wearing my ice pendant recently because I’m trying to look normal but that’s what keeps people engaged. 

A reason why I might not accept having an online persona is because omo that life is expensive o, make I no lie for you. Omo e no easy. That’s why I’m trying to run to be a corporate boy. I wish I could just go to Yaba and buy the normal N1,500 shirt, N2,000 trouser and N4,000 shoes. Make I know say I dey drip N10,000 go office. But just to go to a club, I don spend like N600,000. I can’t even repeat clothes like that. It’s just tiring. You make the money to spend it and you get profit but it gets tiring. 

What’s your favourite emoji and why?

My favourite emoji is that spaceship emoji. I’m actually getting the tattoo at the back of my leg. It resonates with me deeply. It gives me that pivotal energy into the next phase every time. I’m a STAR! I’m limitless.

Are you particular about your feed?

Yes, especially my Instagram. Once I see what I don’t like on my social media, I unfollow. I’m not the type of person that would argue with you. My Snapchat timeline is not personal to me but you see Instagram? It is.

I mistakenly followed a lot of people in the past and I’ve been saying I’ll unfollow them but I’ve not been able to. At the end of the day, my algorithm has been able to calculate it and remove the things that are not needed. It takes a while before I see a post that doesn’t make sense. When I do, I just remove the person. I’m really particular about my timeline because I consume what I see. I’m now conscious of the fact that everything outside does not have to affect me internally. And sometimes it can just stay in your subconsciousness and start manifesting without you knowing.

For Twitter, if someone retweets what does not go with my values, I unfollow the person who retweeted it and block the originator of the tweet so that nobody can bring them to my timeline in the future.

Then there are certain words that i’ve muted on Twitter like “love” “falling in love”. All those things that will actually make me want to sit down and say “oh my god why am I single?”. 

Youtube or TikTok? Which do you prefer and why?

Youtube. You know I mentioned having some therapeutic energy from social media? That actually started from YouTube in 2014/2015. There’s a motivational speaker called Eric Thomas who I’ve been able to learn so much from. He speaks deep. I’ve learnt that Youtube is more expansive for me. It has taught me so many things. 

On Tiktok, no matter what you put on it I’m still distracted. If I scroll past that thing I’ve searched for, it can lead me into something out of context and just confuse my thoughts but YouTube keeps my thoughts in check. Once I search “I’m hungry” on YouTube and I click on pasta, the next suggestion is showing Indonesian pasta, Mexican pasta. Like anything that I want to watch, it gives me deeper insights into it.  

Which Nigerian creator do you think the world needs to see and hear more of?

I want Dimma Umeh to be the biggest ever. I feel like she has not reached her peak. I’ve loved Dimma Umeh from the very first day I met her, even before I met her. We’re not actually friends; we’ve only met at executions for all these Youtube events or other occasions when I was working with digital agencies.

Dimma Umeh is too unique not to have all the traffic in the whole wide world. She cuts across black, caramel, brown and white skin. Her aesthetics are everything. To me, she’s the originator of that “aesthetic” for creators in Nigeria. I’m just really inspired by her brand and I really want the world to know more about her. I want her growth to just get so limitless. I wanna see Dimma on like 200 million followers, on a 1 billion Youtube subscribers count. She’s actually put in the work and made a lot of black girls in this region believe they could be creators. So I mean, she’s one person I want to see win big.

Who is the coolest person you follow and the coolest person who follows you?

The coolest person I follow is Luka Sabbat. He’s the coolest person in my life, the coolest person in my world. That’s the only person I’m shamelessly and openly his fan. I retweet all his posts, I repost his pictures, I comment like we’re friends. I DM Luca like we’re guys. I fuck with him really heavy.

Drake’s dad is the coolest person who follows me, Therealdennisg. We met on Zoom in 2018 through a friend. I also made him follow my artist Oxlade at one point. I’m connected to Drake in one way or the other.

What is your favourite Nigerian podcast?

I try to love podcasts, but the only podcast that I’ve dedicated time to listen to is Tea With Tay. Followed by With Chude.

Have you ever hooked up with someone you met online?

Ah me I don hook up with different people from online oh. Na different experience. I’ve almost never regretted hooking up with anyone, but if I did, it would have been the entitlement I’ve experienced from certain hook ups with people.

They come into your life like, “yeah, we’re guys, we’re cool. I love what you want and I want what you want”  but when they start bringing up their bills, you go shake.

The thing is, I’m very kind. Before you even meet me I don dey do good boy for you. I fit just be sending money for different things. But sometimes people get the wrong message – because I’m kind from the first instance, they are like “oh. This one? Let me bring all my problems to his life jare”. The expectations that come with hooking up from people online is my problem. 

5 people you’d love to see answer these questions

YKB, Yhemolee, Radio Chef, Sophia Alakija and Neo.

Read previous Obasanjo’s Internet entries here.