ALBERT KATRUGUMA, 27, is a digital media strategist and marketer. Quick Talk caught up with him recently.
Hello Albert! Could you briefly tell Quick Talk about yourself?
I am Albert Katruguma. I am a digital media strategist and marketing personality. Some people call me a social media influencer. I was born 27 years ago to Bernard Kabagambe and Sadrine Kansiime in Masaka town, now city.
I am the firstborn in a family of three children. I am a complete product of teachers. Somehow, teaching flows through my veins. My father told me he met my mother when she was still a teacher at Unique primary school in Masaka. That is how I came to be born in Masaka, though my parents are originally from Ankole.
You probably attended Unique primary school....
Yes! I attended Unique from kindergarten to primary seven. Shockingly, my mother taught me all through these classes [She must be a brilliant teacher!] I had to act differently and toe the line because my mother back home, was my teacher at school.
It was such an interesting time. I later joined Masaka Secondary School for my six years of O-level and A-level. Thereafter, I joined Makerere University Business School where I did both my diploma and degree in Business Computing.
What combination had you done at A-level?
I am among the PEM [physics, economics, mathematics] people that went to MUBS. There’s an uncle of mine whom I admired very much. He was an accountant but he had studied PEM. I decided to also do PEM, but my interest was in tech. When the time for admission to Makerere came, I was admitted for a diploma in business computing at Mubs.
Masaka SS! That school has such a huge population. How did you manage?
I have some leadership qualities. I was a class councillor from S2 to S6. The position insulated me from some daily student struggles. In my S3, I got a girlfriend. Although coupling [boy-girl relationships] was against the school rules and regulations, my case was a known one. I think it also became one of the advantages of staying in the same school for six years.
Hmmm, did the girlfriend become Mrs Katruguma?
No. I have no girlfriend at the moment. I don’t think I am ready for marriage because there are several things I have to straighten up in my life before I can allow a girlfriend into my life. I am looking at next year to begin thinking about dating someone.
So, who is your Miss Right?
She should have a very good sense of humour to match mine. She should also be smart and hardworking as I am, so that we can meet somewhere financially [don’t opposites attract anymore?]
My love language is hanging out and gifts. I love receiving gifts and gifting other people. Top of them all, she should have a good body [smiles, drawing the good body with his hands].
You have become quite the social media star!
From my time at Masaka SS, I have always been a techie. I joined Twitter in 2012. I was in my S3 at the time. I just loved knowing what was going on in the tech spaces. Like any parent, my parents were wary of my presence on social media. They were afraid that it would affect me, but it now brings food to my table.
At the end of 2015, I was invited by a friend to attend the launch of a road safety campaign at the Sheraton hotel, Kampala. Safe Boda, Vivo Energies, NTV, etc were behind the campaign. I was required to promote the campaign on social media. As I wound up my diploma in 2016, I decided to monetize my social media. I have never looked back.
How do you stay on top?
I have taken several free and paid online courses about digital marketing. Social media marketing is a question of trends. You have to be futuristic in some way. The art of social media is engagement. All my clients know me for building a personal relationship with my audience.
I think my clients come to me looking for that. I have a free flow while interacting with my audience. I make sure that I tweet something that I am comfortable associating with. I don’t deal with any form of sexual or abusive content. The good work I did for small brands brought me to the bigger brands I work with today.
Brands value loyalty; has any told you not to post content from a competitor?
I don’t want brands that own influencers. I am of a school of thought that advocates for digital influencers to be looked at the same way brands interact with mainstream media.
I have never heard of a radio station saying they shall advertise Nile Special and ignore Bell. The radio station shall advertise these products and allow the consumer to decide which kind of product they want to consume. What stops an influencer from doing the same? Some clients have fronted these terms but we always discuss them together.
How do you manage fake news?
Fake news is a hard ball. During the just-concluded elections, I was approached by a politician to tweet misinformation that could tarnish the image of an opponent. Even when the pay was good, I rejected the offer.
I thought hard about the long-term implications this could have on my image in the digital spaces going forward. I have shared with other influencers about the need for verification of information before tweeting. Some take it for granted because they want quick money while others live by the controversial ‘violence’.
When the person whose image we’re playing with decides to sue, it shall be me the influencer behind the bars. The gig plug might decide to deny you or even turn off their phones.
Okay! Moving on...how many pairs of shoes do you have?
I have 12 pairs of shoes [eh! So exact. Usually some people cannot count...] I have boots, moccasins, sneakers, and crocs. The sneakers outnumber other shoes. I have about 20 pairs of trousers, although the jeans outnumber the rest.
My kind of job needs a decent-casual dress code, not shorts and crocs. Decent-casual offers me the flexibility to hop onto the next jaj [as the millennials call boda bodas] when the need arises.
Does digital marketing pay?
Of course. I wouldn’t be in the business if it didn’t pay. Currently, I am a digital brand manager at Pearl Guide Agency. I manage a couple of brands as their digital brand manager. [I manage] Ciroc, Baileys, Captain Morgan Gold, Tusker Cider, Singleton, etc.
[Quick Talk mentions that these are all alcoholic drinks; does Albert drink?] I drink a little. It is hard to work with alcoholic drinks and not drink. The corporate entities I deal with organize experiential activities and I have to participate.
Who is your celebrity crush?
I have two. Juliana Kanyomozi and Winnie Nwagi. I love the gentility with which Juliana presents herself. For Nwagi, I love her energy when performing on stage.
Which book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Chosen by Asan Kasingye [hmmm. Could that be a plug? You’re never sure with influencers]. His rise through the police ranks and as a serviceman goes without mention.