The winning points of social media which have been talked about extensively are easy to identify especially when it is used in creative ways. Besides the communication of ideas it allows you to engage the online community, clarify your position and offer lessons.
Thought leaders and investors around the world have since adopted social media tools to put across their ideas and beliefs to the growing social media audience. As a result popular social networks, chiefly Facebook and Twitter, have been used extensively as the most effective tools in the digital age.
In Zimbabwe Facebook is undoubtedly the most popular social network, and has been attributed as a huge driver of data usage and internet participation for the local population. Some companies and personalities have taken note of this and have successfully used this huge reach to communicate to an extensive audience.
Social media mentorship is an example of how digital tools are transforming the ways in which guidance and instruction are imparted. Although it is mostly identified with how people connect with leaders in particular fields, it also involves using social media platforms for leaders to offer the needed guidance.
An example is how Econet Wireless founder, Strive Masiyiwa, has harnessed his Facebook presence to deliver lessons on entrepreneurship and offer insight into his values as an investor, humanitarian and business leader. Since setting up his page, he has run through lessons drawn from his experiences in business and an expanded view on issues like corruption, philanthropy and societal values.
He has led his followers through the lessons learnt and challenges faced when he ventured into entrepreneurship and in the same vein, he has given an inside look into his early participation in telecommunications before it had been identified as a huge opportunity in Zimbabwe.
In February 2014 these lessons took on a serialised form, running through a progressive account of how Masiyiwa fought financial and legal challenges to establish an independent communications network, Econet Wireless.
Besides presenting a story of the birth of a telecoms firm that would later grow into a multi-national concern, each new account has presented lessons on entrepreneurship and early investment. Strive Masiyiwa, who is widely recognised for his strong Christian values, has also attached biblical references to each chapter and lesson, reinforcing his beliefs in spiritual guidance for entrepreneurial success.
With the use of an auto-biographical style that gives a captivating account aided by cliff-hanger endings for each chapter, the story brings a new approach to social media mentorship. Beyond the lessons that each chapter carries, what is also remarkable is the ability of the readers to engage in discussions on each chapter and how Masiyiwa is able to answer questions raised and just like ordinary mentorship, encouragement where it is relevant.
While any tech start-up or aspiring entrepreneur will learn a lot from this biography, its notable how this gives a personal account on Zimbabwean entrepreneurship. Though not a complete life story this “auto-biography” is probably the most intimate account on the challenges faced by a local entrepreneur in setting up a business concern.
As more people take part in the Strive Masiyiwa Facebook story the strength of social media as a platform for communication, teaching and engagement will be continuously highlighted. It will be interesting to see other successful entrepreneurs in tech (or any other sector) sharing their stories with such an open audience.