Social networks

Year after year, the Internet continues to grow in importance — in terms of number of users, connection speed and its use in influencing non-technological fields of endeavour. With Nigeria’s fairly high internet penetration of 53 percent (as of mid-2017) —the highest in Africa —online media companies are harnessing Internet users’ online activity to build their platforms.

For example, in the pre-Internet era, only the media alone could set agenda for the public. But recent years have witnessed the agenda-setting powers of the public. The propriety of the trend is debatable, from the egotistical, journalistic point of view, but these are the times when social media departments of digital newspapers are peeping into the Internet to see what people want to read — the questions they’re asking Google, the topics they’re typing into major search engines — and informing the editorial department to quickly latch on to it.

As of June 2017, the number of internet users had increased to 91.6 million, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), justifying Nigeria’s status as the country with the eighth highest number of Internet users across the globe. This has seen a corresponding rise in the revenue generation powers the digital space. From US10m in 2011, to US$15m in 2012, and US$24m in 2013, it rose to US$82m in 2017. The Statista statistics portal predicts that Internet advertising revenues in Nigeria would have risen to US$139m by 2020.

These figures are understandable, seeing the emergence of Google, Twitter, Facebook and newsletters as advertising platforms. These social networks are particularly critical to the operations of the smaller news platforms who, other than for advertising, rely on them to redirect traffic to their websites.

Courtesy of Alexa, a commercial web traffic data and analytics company, we know that as popular as Facebook is, it is only the fourth most used social network in Nigeria and the fifth most used website overall. As of February 2016, 16 million Nigerians used Facebook — the highest in Africa. On the average, 7.2 million of them were on the site every day.

Ahead of Facebook are Google.com, Google.com.ng and You Tube. Twitter, boasting 1.8 million users monthly, is the 16th most visited Nigerian website. The social networks ahead of Twitter in Nigeria are Yahoo, Nairaland, Eskimi and Instagram. Nairaland, an online community created by Seun Osewa in March 2005, currently has over 1.9 million registered accounts and over 55 million Internet users. Meanwhile, Instagram had 3.6 million Nigerian users as of March 2017, 40 percent of them female and more than 80 percent of them aged 18 to 44.