Nairaland was social media before social media became anything in Nigeria. While it has failed to match its potentials, at least when compared with what Facebook and others have become, it retains its potency. In fact, every time a top Nigerian brand gets slammed on the site, the Executives quake.
Despite the impressive page views, none of the major Nigerian brands have a presence or spends on Nairaland. And it’s not about Nairaland alone; same goes for most homegrown social media websites such as World Junction, Naija Pals, etc.
Is there something wrong with local social media websites that the average Joe like me doesn’t know?
Social media has become so critical to branding and marketing that companies that don’t do it are practically toying with death. Well, nobody is going to get shot for not going online, but it’s now an existential risk eschewing social media.
The significance of social media in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Nigerians are said to be the most mobilized country in the world where 76% of all internet traffic run through our mobile phones despite the crappy data service served by the Telcos. Nigeria also has the highest number of Facebook users in Africa. I don’t know if that counts for anything but at least, it got Zuckerberg to get on the plane and see what’s happening out here in Lagos. So a company that doesn’t reach out to eyeballs where they congregate is only wasting its time.
You only need to visit profile pages of major companies in Nigeria to see how important they take social media. Hardly do you find any of these companies without dedicated teams just creating content on Facebook, YouTube, etc. on a daily.
This is apparent because social media companies are no longer small boys. Check out the following facts: Facebook is worth a whopping $331.39B as of December 2, 2016, while Mark himself is now the 6th richest homo sapiens, worth $51.7B, just from sharing updates and videos of cats and naked girls. Snapchat, which was invented just like yesterday, has been valued at $20B. Microsoft just bought LinkedIn for $26.2B (Just give me the change on top, I swear, I will stop ranting forever!). Facebook bought Instagram and WhatsApp for a combined $20B.
Ok, we get it, social media is important!!
With all the money spent on social media, why are Nigerian social media sites not benefiting from the spends? Or why are Nigerian companies not spending on Nigerian websites?
So many arguments exist:
The Nigeria social media environment is not big enough.
Some argue that social media in Nigeria is not big or the local websites don’t attract viewers. The assertion is simply not true as there are metrics to show otherwise. Nairaland has more engagement in Nigeria than Facebook. It currently ranks as the 7th most visited website while Facebook comes in as 8th. Many major stories are broken on Linda Ikeji, Bella Naija, Nairaland, etc. Those who love tatafo know where they tune their antennas.
Nigerian social media is unstructured for structured brands
Home grown social media in Nigeria is like Oshodi market where area boys reign supreme. That is true, a trip through Nairaland is like walking in a Brazilian Favela. But Nairaland is tame compared to Reddit, where vitriol and porn rain down like typhoon. Top brands, such as Amazon, HTC, Red Bull, Ford, Nordstrom, etc. are making a kill on Reddit. Reddit has also hosted top names like Bill Gates, Obama (yes, Obama!) on a section called AMA (ask me anything).
Nigerian brands prefer foreign platforms
Colonial mentality or social media imperialism where nothing homegrown is good enough? However, when you figured out that Linda Ikeji bought her N600M mansion in Banana from money made online in Nigeria then the argument falls flat!
So the question is – why do companies in Nigeria shun local social media. I’m not talking about advertisement but creating a profile and reaching out.
Telcos, banks, and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG – there is an acronym for everything) are the largest spenders on marketing in Nigeria. I don’t know the fraction of the global spend of $23.68B that came from Nigeria, but I know it should amount to something substantial, at least from the Nigerian perspective. What if a portion of what we spend is diverted to social media websites such as World Junction and Nairaland? If the world is expecting a 26.3% increase in spending on social media ads in 2017, shouldn’t Nigeria grow even much more?
Why I may not know the actual answers to this debacle, I know they have to do much more to become the platform of choice for brands and advertisers. They need to engage more, provide robust tools needed for targeting, curating and analytics. Going back to basic level, they even need business development executives to go after potential brands.