Understanding Social Media in Nigeria

18 03 2011

If you asked any Nigerian what social media is, the most likely answers you will get would be related to either Facebook or Twitter. Only a very small number really understand the concept of social media and the extent of its influence, even amongst corporate entities. Organisations in Nigeria who use social media limit their understanding and use of social media to Facebook and Twitter. Due to the growing numbers of members/subscribers (Facebook has well over half-a-billion members), Facebook and Twitter are becoming the definition of the term social media. These are the two most popular platforms used for social communications in Nigeria.

With the lack of depth in understanding its scope, the question to be asked is what really is social media?

As the name suggests/implies, social media is any form of communication or interaction that takes place amongst several people on any number of online platforms. There are several platforms in use today, some more popular than others, which is dependent on understanding why people need to communicate/interact. Examples of these platforms are:


Forums are largely assembly points or meeting places online for the discussion of varying questions and topics of public interests. There are usually various topics of conversation and several people contributing their thoughts/opinions on each topic of personal interest. Such a platform is sometimes used to advertise products or services requiring some form of feedback, such as a job forum. For example, there are Monster (UK), Jobberman (Nigeria), Nairaland (Nigeria), etc.


A blog (a contraction of the term “web log”) is a type of website usually maintained by an individual or a corporate entity with regular entries of commentaries, description of events or thoughts about various subject matters ‘penned’ down for the public to read. Examples of blog hosting services include WordPress, TypePad, Squarespace, Blogger, etc. Then blogs that discuss various subject matters include blogs include “Naija Stories” by Meg Whitman (Literary writings from Nigerian authors) and “cloudtalks” (hosted by WordPress, Social Media in Nigeria).


Social networks are usually made of individuals or organisations which are connected by one or more forms of interdependency such as friendship, kinship, common interests, financial exchange, relationships or knowledge. Social networks are based on one or more of these ‘connectors’. Examples of social networks include Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Hi5, Xing, etc. However, Facebook (due to its large subscriber base) has been able to combine most of the ‘connectors’ as many people use the platform for a broad spectrum of reasons.


Microblogging is a broadcast medium in the form of blogging. A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs allows users to exchange short sentences, individual images, video or website links, etc. Commercial microblogs also exist, to promote websites, services and/or products and to promote collaboration within an organisation. The most popular microblogging site is Twitter. Others are Tumblr, Plurk, etc. The social networking sites have developed their own forms of microblogs, popularly known as status updates.


Multimedia is media and content that uses a combination of different content forms. These content forms include a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video and interactivity content forms. There are various multimedia service providers where individuals or organisations can post or share their content. Some of these providers include YouTube (video sharing), Slideshare (powerpoint presentations), Flickr (still images), etc.


Social bookmarking is a method for internet users to share, organise, search and manage bookmarks of web resources. Unlike file sharing, the bookmarked resources are not shared, merely bookmarks that reference them. These bookmarks can be viewed by others and that lets them know about new services and latest concepts which are gaining popularity in the online world. Bookmarking services include, Delicious, Stumbleupon, Diigo, etc.

Other social media platforms include Diggs and RSS readers.

Understanding social media and how each of the platforms work for and against a company’s brand is essential for Nigerian businesses.

Why is it then essential for Nigerian organisations to understand the full scope of social media and how it can be of immense benefit to their businesses? This is because:


Businesses need to follow them and their trends!

  • They meet in different places (social networks, blogs, online forums)
  • They share content and spread the voice (viral videos, blogs, Twitter)
  • They influence
  • They comment
  • They advertise themselves


Businesses need find where they come together and engage with them

  • People get together in communities
  • Word-of-mouth is relied upon
  • People read blogs and consume more user generated content
  • People happily participate in online conversations and communicate with brands that are visible


Businesses need to evaluate trends coming from consumer conversations

  • Half the time people spend on the internet is spent looking at content and one-third is spent communicating
  • ‘Friends’ within a community are likely to buy on recommendation
  • Hundreds of millions of online video viewers
  • On Twitter there are now about 140million tweets per day and 460,000 accounts created per day. Number of registered users hovers around 200million
  • Facebook has recently crossed the 600million members mark (this number presents an unrivalled market place for any business)

It is only when Nigerian organisations adopt a deliberate and strategic approach to social media would they then find immense benefits in becoming active participants of an emerging market place for products and services.




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