Social media in Nigeria – mobile chat dominates

In Africa, social media is a growing arena, with users increasingly adopting a number of platforms to engage with brands, communicate with friends, and share and source information.

“Within Africa, social media practices have materialised in unprecedented capacities. They’ve led to revolutions, encouraged, demanded and monitored best practices during elections and are also contributing to a larger dynamic of promoting growth on the continent through accountability and conversation. In fact, the most visited websites across the continent are social media platforms,” stated a recent report by Africapractice, a public relations firm with operations throughout the continent.

The report, titled The social media landscape in Nigeria, highlighted some of the social media trends in Africa’s largest economy, with an estimated population of around 170m people. According to the research, internet penetration in the country stands at about 30% with over 50m internet users, and in 2013, 72% of these users were visiting social media sites.

One major finding showed that Facebook is losing traction while mobile chat platforms dominate the market and microblogging (such as Twitter) sees a rise.

“While Facebook users have steadily increased over the past few years, numbers show that Facebook is losing active users (logged in and engaged) to other platforms such as mobile chat apps and microblogs,” the report highlighted, adding that in 2013 an estimated 6.5m Nigerians were on Facebook.

A likely reason for the growing use of mobile chat platforms is that these apps perform well on lower bandwidths and use less data, making it more affordable, especially in African countries where data is expensive. Furthermore, the report added that mobile chat is also a cheaper form of communication than SMS.

According to Africapractice, in Nigeria the mobile chat apps with the most users are:

  • Eskimi, which consists of jobs, music, chat, fan clubs and forums, and has over 10m users in Nigeria;
  • 2go, which allows users to connect with friends and meet new people, and has close to 10m users in the West African country;
  • WhatsApp, a cross platform mobile messaging app with over 5m users;
  • Blackberry Messenger (BBM), another mobile chat platform with a large user base, with Nigeria estimated to have over 2m users.

One of the ways Facebook is trying to grow its penetration on the continent is through partnering with mobile operators and developers in Africa, and shifting its focus from PC to mobile.

In November last year, Nicola D’Elia, Facebook’s growth manager for Africa, told How we made it in Africa that the network, unsurprisingly, is seeing the biggest uptake in the African markets with growing data penetration.

“There is a strong correlation between data penetration and Facebook penetration… Growth will come where we are able to deliver the highest data penetration and in sub-Saharan Africa it’s definitely through mobile. We can achieve this in many different ways.”