The Many Faces Of Bernard Kafui Sokpe (MistAMeister)
Bernard Kafui Sokpe with a thriving career in the world of digital media, telecom, marketing and more is a force to be reckoned with. Speaking to the Guardian Life, he discusses his work evolution and what keeps him going.
You are popularly known as MistAMeister. What is the inspiration behind that name?
Mr Meister or Meister, as it’s pronounced, is a nickname that has evolved with my growth as an individual. It’s originally a German word meaning ‘A person skilled or prominent in a specified area of activity.’ It first came to play from my first Twitter handle @kokomasta9, which I was using a decade ago due to my love for D’banj, the original Koko Master.
Years went on and the name evolved from Kokomasta to Kokomeister and then eventually Meister. Due to my career feats and unrivalled streak of excellence in everything I do, the name Meister very much aligned with my personal brand and now has become a seemingly permanent part of everything I do. Even my registered businesses, Brandmeister and Meister Music have the moniker as part of their names.
From being a graphic designer to a customer loyalty manager to a talent manager and then a brand manager. How did those experiences prepare you for your role at Twitter?
When I was first contacted by the headhunter to join Twitter, I was clueless as to what a partner manager’s role entailed. However, after studying the JD, thoroughly, I realised that every part of my career journey had been encompassed into this one role. My first job as a graphic designer had armed me with the expertise to understand visual design and what a functional and compelling brand visual was. This skillset was very essential dealing with public figures, and managed partners who constantly had to marry their brand’s visuals with Twitter’s visuals to rollout campaigns. Customer loyalty on the other hand taught me how to retain customers using perks and rewards, and in managing partners at Twitter, I was constantly curating innovative and cool partner ‘gives’ to compel them to constantly make Twitter their platform of choice to drive their conversations. And my talent and brand manager expertise was very instrumental in me building the key media and celebrity relationships on the continent that laid the foundation for Twitter partnerships when I assumed the role.
Less than a year after you led partnerships at Twitter for Africa, thousands of African celebrities were verified. What was lacking that you felt the need to correct and why was the verification so important to you?
Twitter’s main goal was to serve the public conversation, and the key people that drive and steer the highest conversations on the platform are celebrities, public figures and influential voices, which the platform referred to as VIT’S ( Very Important Tweeters ). My role at Twitter was to work closely with these VITs to help amplify their conversations on the platform, globally. My key mandate and strategy, when I joined was to ensure Africans had enough representation globally as the continent had been underserved. My first tactic to drive this strategy was to ensure that all VITs were verified to ensure credibility and visibility. So, from Ghana’s @realbolaray, to Nigeria’s @boy_director all the way to South africa’s @djmaphorisa, I ensured over 1,800 public personalities had their accounts verified. Verification was super important to me, especially at the time when it was awarded based on authenticity and notability. It prevented impersonation and allowed verified users to engage with global accounts easily as they looked recognisable. This exercise went a long way to positively improve VIT access to the world via Twitter.
You are credited for promoting the hashmoji #AfricaToTheWorld. via Twitter. Why was that goal so important to you?
Daily on the twitter platform, there are thousands of mentions with the hashtag #Africatotheworld used mainly by Africans that are proud of other africans doing exceptional things gaining global recognition. As part of my strategy of using my role in Twitter to drive representation of Africans globally, I identified an opportunity to piggyback on an existing #TwitterVoices initiative, aimed at elevating African leaders’ and influencer voices on the platform, and encouraging people on the continent to share their impact with the world. When I saw that Grammy award winning artist Burna Boy was gearing for a highly anticipated performance, at the world renowned venue, Madison Square Garden, I saw it as an opportunity to generate conversation around one of Africa’s biggest cultural moments. I created a custom hashmoji, which could be activated by Tweeting #AfricaToTheWorld. It was super successful and sparked a swell of excitement amongst Africans globally with over a million mentions of the handle.
What is it about Africa that inspires you daily and what has been your proudest moment as an African?
Africa is a continent filled with untapped talent, and many untold stories. The perception of Africa beyond our borders is not entirely positive. Our relentlessness and undying zeal amidst all the difficulty and stifling global exposure is what drives my passion for the continent. It took me a lot to walk away from my entrepreneurial journey to accept a full time job, but it was very easy to do so for Twitter because I identified an opportunity to amplify our voices from Africa.
My proudest moment was when I had the opportunity to host in Ghana, Kunle Adeyanju, a Nigerian man who had ridden a bike from London headed to Nigeria in his fight against Polio. It was such a proud moment and that gesture drove so much pride in me supporting the dreams of a fellow African braving all the difficulties across borders, sharing stories and rallying people to support a cause. See the tweet below with pictures from the meeting.
A little birdie tells us that you are as passionate about music. For one, you managed Mr Eazi. How did this transition happen and is music still something you are keen on?
Interestingly this has been super easy because for me, music has always been my favorite pastime and passion. I enjoy music first as a listener, but I went further to invest my brand marketing and creative expertise to support the industry. I managed and supported Mr Eazi for four years propelling his brand from underground artist to global superstar. During my work at Twitter, although I was responsible for News, Sports and Entertainment verticals, I had a stronger affinity for entertainment and always made sure to prioritize music without losing sight of the other verticals. As a side hustle, I have built a music studio in Accra to support African music artists to produce quality music and export to the world.
For a man who has many sides, what projects should we be expecting soon?
I am super passionate about teaching and empowering youth and the creative industry. One of me key projects this year is to open a creative space to allow young creators to have a productive environment where they can connect with likeminded creatives, their mentors and key facilitators that can support their careers. So I am partnering with some key creative minds to open the space which we will call JAMBO which means Hello in Swahili, as I believe every meaningful connection begins with a Hello.
What life quote you do live by?
I have quite a number of quotes I live by but the main one that has stuck with me is ‘DREAM IT, DO IT’. Mainly because I believe there are more dreamers than doers in this world. And for you to stand out and make an impact, you should dare to do what you dream. It makes a difference.