Opinion

Online Giveaways – The Perks of Being a Social Media Sensation.

Online Giveaways – The Perks of Being a Social Media Sensation.

One cannot accurately put a date to the first online giveaway in history but as Social Media continues to expand its horizon and exert its grip on the general populace, giveaways become even more popular and are now the commonplace on most, if not all Social Media platforms.

Giveaways are monies, gifts, vouchers, items, or anything that is given to a person or group of persons by anyone, usually an online celebrity or sensation via the internet – social media channels – for any reason, without the intent of collecting it back. It is also anything given to unrelated persons that comes to the knowledge of Social Media users.

An online sensation is a person who has garnered a large following on any or more Social Media platforms, the popular platforms being Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They could be an aficionado from any specific field with a following. Any popular figure on the online space is an online celebrity.

A celebrity engages in giveaways for a number of reasons; as an informal CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility. Entertainment celebrities whose main source of income come from album sales, movie tickets sales, shows et cetera, engage in giveaways as a means to give back to their fans for their loyalty. These set of celebrities believe that their fame and successes can be directly attributed to their fans and therefore decide to say “Thank You!” to their fans by giving “goodies” away to them through their online platforms. Others give away monies to ease the financial burdens of their fans.

At the initial stages of the lockdown in Lagos and Abuja due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Runtown, a popular Nigerian music artiste gave away a sum of 10 million naira to his twitter followers to ease the burden of the lockdown. A few other popular figure like Don Jazzy, Naira Marley, Funke Akindele, to mention but a few have also given out monies running into several millions of naira on Instagram and Twitter.

While some celebrities do this on their own volition, some fans coax their celebrity favorites into giving out monies. This brings us to the second reason: Some popular persons engage in giveaways to increase their following and social media reach. It has become commonplace to observe a steep climb in the followership of anyone who gives away money on any Social Media platform.

Different people congregate under each and every post of such individuals, posting bank account details in hope that their favorite celeb picks them to send money. A few are usually lucky, but the rest live to try again another day. This is because the giveaway amount will never be enough to reach the ever increasing followers. There is a subset of online sensations who pick out specific people with needs – feeding, health, jobs, and so on – to give monies to. Their giveaways are targeted to specific people to meet specific needs.

Over the last 6 months, there has been an increase in the number of people with health challenges, incapacitations of diverse kinds, who reach out to solicit for help from popular celebrities and their favorites. Some have gotten help. Others remain hopeful. It is also worthy of note that some online celebrities engage in giveaways whenever they fall out with the general public for one wrongdoing or the other.

The damage control is done to shift the focus from their perceived wrongdoing and win back their fans. A lot of people frown and show their distaste for this but it is not effective as fewer people engage in discussions of the wrongdoing and more and more people get carried away by the sums of money given. There are many other personal reasons why celebrities give out money on social media.

It is no surprise that most people believe that celebrities are wealthy and financially buoyant. Even though this is not always true, the social media presence of most celebrities make it even more believable. It is well known that celebs pose in pictures with luxurious cars, in palatial edifices and very expensive ostentatious lifestyle that give off the idea that they are very wealthy.

These photos and videos are put up on social media platforms of most celebrities. The effect of this is that, because the bourgeoisie and lower class cannot relate to that lavish life, they infer and believe hole, line, and sinker that their celeb favorites are stupendously rich. The downside to this perspective is that more fans become entitled and demand giveaways from celebrities online.

Recently, Yul Edochie, a renowned Nollywood actor registered his displeasure at the rate and manner people post unsolicited bank account details in his message box and under his social media posts. Even though he had given out monies on different occasions, he complained that his fans are not understanding and should consider that he is also a victim of the lockdown enforced to curb the fast spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of people still posted bank account details even under his complaint.

Some other popular celebrities who give out money online complain that sometimes the recipient of the giveaways do not appreciate the sum and treat it with disdain instead of showing gratitude. This sense of entitlement, some celebrities complain, discourages them from reaching out financially to more people on the online platforms. Some stopped giving out completely.

 

A simple search on Twitter with the keywords “giveaway“, “drop account”  or “online giveaways in Nigeria” returns a ton of solicited and unsolicited bank details.

There is the problem where fans receive money sent in error, usually in excess of what was intended. Celebrities complain that when they reach out to such fans to send the difference, the fans usually refuse to do so or even block them totally. This discourages them from reaching out to their fans.

There was a dramatic turn of events some days ago when a popular Yoruba female actress came under severe backlash for charging an online user One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira for a giveaway of Five Hundred Thousand Naira. The user had reached out to her earlier and sent her Five Hundred Thousand Naira to giveaway to her fans. It was gathered that the popular actress asked that he send the additional fee which seemed outrageous as charges for the giveaway. The user, left with no other choice, requested that the sum be sent back to his account.

In 2016, Kanye West via his twitter handle, reached out to Facebook Owner and Tech Billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg. He asked for financial assistance as he was in debt of over 50 million dollars and would appreciate if Mark invested in him. There is no evidence of a reply from Mark Zuckerberg online, maybe because Mark does not have a Twitter profile.

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A lot of people shared divergent opinions with the popular ones being the moral perspective. Some people opined that soliciting for financial assistance from an online celebrity means that you are not related to them in real life in any way, and therefore is interpreted as a beggarly act.

This stigma is made more pronounced on Twitter where references to posts soliciting for financial assistance are made to ridicule those who request or post their bank details for help. Over the last 2 weeks, since Kanye West was declared a Billionaire (in dollars) by Forbes Magazine, different people have made statements to nullify the stigma around soliciting for help online. Even though the stigma effect has relaxed a bit, one still has to contend with it when posting bank account details or requesting financial assistance.

A reversal to the norm: Fans of popular former Big Brother Nigeria housemate, Tacha, contributed monies for their favorite celebrities. This would not be the first time this has happened as fans of US celebrity, Kylie Jenner once contributed to make her a billionaire.

Giveaways have come to stay as long as Social Media platforms thrive. Whether it is coming from a favorite celebrity to his or her fans or from fans to their favorite celebs, as long as the platform provides an avenue for people of different social classes to coexist, there may never be an end to giveaways.

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