As memes have become a necessary part of social currency in the age of Gen-Zers and Millennials alike, nostalgia for old Nollywood, the years that preceded cinema releases, a time of lots of work and very low pay, has found mass appeal as a permanent fixture in how we communicate.
Countless GIFs and screenshots from the early aughts have become useful memes even as the actors who created the content are only just beginning to return to the limelight.
So there was a market for Daniel Precious or Tweet of Chesky as he goes by on social media. He is a collector of old Nollywood memorabilia, clips of Rita Dominic and Jim Iyke as power couples in countless films with the same storyline.
How did Tweet of Chesky start?
Unlike the memes and GIFs, he has the real things, the full videos from which the memes had been created, over 2000 of them and was wondering if he should delete them, free up space on his phone for even more.
Instead, he decided to post them on social media, at first as videos just as he had saved them. Then he posted them as GIFs, then as screenshots. He went viral on Twitter a couple of times, but when it became too toxic, he left the platform. He made multiple accounts. Trial and error, looking for something that will stick.
He didn’t get the reaction he had expected. Engagement was low. Then he decided to make the post like tweets, except he would post them on Instagram, the perfect meme. This year, the account Tweet of Chesky caught fire and has become an inexhaustible source to quench the hunger for old Nollywood.
“I’ve actually been doing this for a very long time,” he told Technext recently. “But it was in January this year that my post started going viral. That is just one funny thing on the internet, just one thing will make you blow.”
In the past few months, Daniel, a fulltime medical student at the University of Abuja, has become the reigning Meme Lord, starting new memes from his cache of videos. But he wrestles with the title, Meme Lord which in recent years has been used to describe Elon Musk, the editors of Zikoko and Nigeria, the most populous black nation.
“I just have this thing that is funny. I easily create things that people find funny. Not nessecarily meme. People are just laughing around me. I’m just a categorically funny person,” he said.
Daniel has been on his influencer journey for a long. He tried Twitter at first, where he quickly grew a following. But he couldn’t shake off the idea that he was being used by the bigger influencers for very little money.
Influencers on Twitter with a lot of followers decide the tide of the conversation on the app. Micro influencers who want to reach a wider audience would have to engage with the topics atop the trend table, and not necessarily what they want to talk about. The topics are set by the influencers, through their foot soldiers, the micro-influencers. With this model, the big influencers can lord it over the micro-influencers looking for their own big break and engagement on the platform.
So they join group chats with these influencers who then tells them what to tweet about, everything from politician to endorse, to a rising musician, to Big Brother housemates.
“I was a micro-influencer in those days. I was thriving to become an influencer. But I got used a lot because my followers were not like the bigger guys,” he said. “I started discovering the whole godfatherism side of Twitter, that clique. You just have to be ganged with certain people. When they tell you to delete a tweet, you delete it. Then you will be popular eventually.”
Since he started the Tweet of Chesky page on Instagram, he has been sceptical of collaborating with other influencers, not that his content type would have allowed him. “I always avoid a situation where someone will be like I’ve helped you before,” he said.
He also isn’t focused on getting advertisers to monetise his content, which he said he has been making money off since he had just 2000 followers. The brands would have favoured the bigger influencers anyway and he would have only gotten any gigs by cultivating a relationship with them.
“I see people say they are waiting for brands to bring gig like that’s the only way they can make money, and I say to myself ‘see these people?’ From when I had 2k followers, I was making up to N50,000 per week. I have a digital agency and I sell courses.” he said. “There is money in audience. Whenever I see anybody with an audience I don’t see followers. What I see is money. I know how to leverage followers.”
But regardless, he says that he spent a very title amount of time on Instagram with a screen time of about 30 minutes daily on the platform.
“I just come to drop my content and leave. People complain that I never reply to comments. But I don’t see them. I don’t scroll and that is the best way to use social media, instead of exposing yourself for other people to utilise your time,” he said.
He doesn’t lose his cool or spend more time on Instagram, even when engagement tanks, like other influencers who enter beats mode, trying new formats, and more content. What Daniel does he said is take time away from creating content, “the theory of scarcity” he calls it.
Like other influencers who use their fame and platform to launch new careers, branching into acting and standup comedy, he said he is not immediately focused on that.
“I’m a very shy person,” he said. “But standup is something that I can do. But it will need some investment and branding.”
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