By Oluwole Leigh
I spent some time in Ibadan over the Christmas break and engaged in a discussion with a couple of young people. The focus group was made of people aged between 22 and 25. It was all male and they had all finished from University in the last 2 years.
The discussion focused on Social Media, Entertainment, Technology among other things.
The following points were gathered from those discussions and from some personal research that I have carried out online.
- Facebook and Instagram are preferred
Facebook seems to maintain its stranglehold on communications in Nigeria. We are expressive people by nature and it gives us an opportunity to express ourselves through words and pictures. It helps young people to monitor the social progress / misfortune of others (which is second Nature to Nigerians). Instagram is huge among females for various reasons.
- Twitter is just there
They’ve all opened Twitter accounts for obligatory purposes but are not active on Twitter. Twitter seems to have a steep on-boarding process. Getting yourself heard on Twitter is not as easy. You need to get followers and you need to start following people before you start getting retweets. This is totally opposite to posting a picture on other platforms and all your high school mates connect with you immediately.
- OffGrid (Peer to Peer) rules
There’s a whole lot of transfer of content that happens in a peer to peer mode. Someone downloads a video and then passes it directly to others via bluetooth, PC Connection, Whatsapp, Wifi etc Such offgrid communication is not recorded by online counters. A video/picture/ piece of content could record 10 downloads/ views but could in reality be available to 1000 people. The higher the cost of data, the higher the amount of off-grid traffic.
- BBM seems to have one over Whatsapp
Even though Whastapp was cross-platform from Day 1, BBM still maintains its advantage. Its probably due to a combination of “first-mover advantage” and “Network effect”. A whole lot of off-grid communication takes place within BBM and Whastapp groups.
- Data is Expensive
Data plans are expensive for young people. There is the tendency to forget this fact when you are used to “Office Internet”. A whole lot of prioritizing has to be done by them when using data on their phones. They know all the plans and are constantly iterating between one data plan or the other. They know all the hacks – BBM plan on Android and vice-versa, buying data off people etc.
- Signal/ Noise Ratio matters
In Technology, it is necessary to consider the Amount of Noise in a medium before transmitting information over that medium. Different Social Media platforms have differing S/N ratios. These ratios are not static and are dependent on time of the day, day of the week, mood of the nation, demographics of the users and many other factors. The key to good communication is being able to accurately identify these intangible factors and reduce them to tangible variables that you can work around.
7.Comedy works (when done right)
Comedy plays quite well in social media communication. Comedy taps into the subconscious of the receiver and stimulates certain parts of the mind. However, a lot of brands seem to be shifting from Serious messaging to Comic messaging without understanding that Comedy is different ball game. Nigerians are quite perceptive and know when you “are trying to be funny”. e.g @thisisnotBuhari twitter handle.
- It will go to the ends of the earth
I recently crafted some funny content and put it on Facebook (see attachment). As I was trying to explain the basic principles to my young Ibadan friends, I discovered that they all had it on their phones. I put it out on Facebook , someone must have sent it to someone who must have sent it to someone. I think it’s necessary to define clearly if a message would have the same impact by the time it crosses 10 boundaries.
- Local lo n gbowo (Local rules)
There is a local flavor to use of Social Media platforms. I found it interesting that Ibadan politicians tend to run their accounts themselves in a the typical “Ibadan” way – Curse your opponents, hail your paddies, promise to jam them at the beer parlour tonight etc. e.g Dapo Lam Adesina recently put out his Asset declaration on Facebook and it snowballed into an abusefest. You can check his page for “Lessons in Ibadan Social Media 101”
- Lagos =/= Nigeria (Lagos is not Nigeria)
There is a tendency to view the audience as having the “Lagos Mindset” or seeing things from the Lagos point of view. Diversity of views and mindsets in the Newsroom is necessary to deliver effective messages. I am of the opinion that tomorrow’s winners will be able to recognize local flavors, tap into them and deliver tailored messages to users/readers.