The rise in internet connectivity and mobile usage
In the past few years, there’s been a sharp increase in mobile phone usage and internet connectivity in Nigeria. A report by Ericsson has revealed that 84% of all smartphone users in Nigeria are connected to the internet. DigitXplus, a market research and statistics specialists company, has released figures that indicate a huge growth in overall internet connectivity in Nigeria with a 200% increase in internet users between 2009 and 2013.
This has, in turn, impacted Nigeria’s relationship to social media. Thanks to the democratization of internet access, as well as its immediate availability through the medium of mobile phones, social media has become much more of a reality to the average Nigerian. 94% of internet users on mobile phones use social network sites, as opposed to 44% on laptops and tablets.
These figures reflect an emerging, incontestable fact: social networks have become incredibly valuable and effective platforms for the purpose of reaching the general Nigerian population.
President Buhari and his campaign
The current Nigerian President, Buhari, largely owes his current office to the aforementioned fact. Indeed, the greater part of his campaign was conducted on social media.
That was an intelligent decision, as his victory clearly attests to. The strategy was based on a large quantity of Facebook, twitter and blog updates, designed to rebrand Muhammadu Buhari’s image and make him into a more relatable, accessible person to the general Nigerian population.
His online victory was clear and overwhelming. By the end of the campaign, Buhari’s Twitter handle @ThisIsBuhari had accumulated over 900 tweets and 141,000 followers in the span of a short 3 months. In contrast, defeated president Goodluck Jonathan, with the handle @presgoodluck, originally opened in 2011, only had less than 50 tweets and 30,000 followers by the start of the campaign.
The social media strategy allowed Buhari to connect to the members of the younger generation by communicating in a way that resonates with them.
Social Media week in Lagos
The Nigerian potential for social media hasn’t gone unnoticed by some major actors in the field. From February 23rd to February 27th 2015, the Social Media Week event took place in Lagos. It managed to gather quite the crowd, with over 9,000 attendees, 456 million social impressions and over 200 press and media features.
Social Media Week is an event that is held at various points during the year, in a certain number of selected cities. During the event, that usually lasts for about 4 to 5 days, various topics related to social media are explored and discussed. In terms of the African continent, Lagos was the only city selected, alongside locations such as New York, London, Sao Paulo, Rotterdam and Milan.
While we may consider the large population of Nigeria as one of the determining factors to the choice of Lagos as one of the cities that would host the event, it would be fair to assume that other reasons played a big role as well. The most obvious deduction one could make concerning this decision is that they considered Nigeria to be either an important social media hub, or fated to be in the near-future.
These points should highlight the direction the recent trends seem to be pointing towards, which is that Nigeria seems to be on a fast track to embracing social media and all the possibilities and opportunities that come along with it, and it would do all business owners a whole world of good to pay attention to the progression of the social media phenomenon and map out strategies accordingly.