• Monday, May 27, 2024
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BusinessDay

More Nigerian businesses deploy social media for growth

Nigerian businesses, including the entrepreneurial community, are increasingly adopting social media platforms and other internet-enabled tools to build brand reputation and drive up profitability, despite potential reputational loss that could arise as a result of negative feedback storms, industry experts have said.

According to them, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Whatsapp are slowly evolving to become the de-facto methods of information dissemination.

There are at least 9 million social media users in Nigeria, with about 5.4 percent penetration, according to a recent research by TwinePine Research entitled ‘The State of Digital Media’, which also reveals that 83 percent of social media users in the country are active.

But this digital platform can equally damage the reputation of businesses that are unprepared to weather the negative feedback storm stirred by their social media presence, the experts warn.

Tope S. Aladenusi, head, security, privacy and resiliency, Akintola Williams Deloitte, says many Nigerians use social media to voice their dissatisfaction with a particular service, product or brand, which makes it equally compelling for businesses to plan for and respond to the inevitable negative feedback that they may receive on social media.

Social media poses a great risk to enterprises because of the numerous opportunities it offers, Aladenusi says. He adds that such impact could include reputational loss, intellectual property (IP) leakage (could be intentional or unintentional disclosure of confidential information on social networking sites), and identity theft via social engineering.

“In Nigeria, we have seen instances of targeted attacks on some companies’ executives and brands. For example, a malicious user can create a fake social media profile belonging to the CEO of a corporation and use this profile to attract unsuspecting clients and people of the same calibre,” he says in an interview. But in spite of all of this, local and foreign businesses in Nigeria are being compelled to increase their online presence. Digital media spend, social media inclusive, accounts for about 4.5 percent of the entire annual N100 billion clients ad budget. This figure is expected to rise as more and more businesses come to terms with enormous opportunities inherent in social media. Many businesses have even gone a step further to integrate social media strategies into their customer relationship management (CRM) system.

“Nigerian companies are already using Twitter to listen to their customers and market themselves organically,” says Katie Lampe, head of sales operations, Twitter Europe Middle-East Africa (EMEA).

Early adopters such as @AirtelNigeria, @EtisalatNigeria and @Star NG have taken massive advantage of Twitter ads to increase user engagement and brand awareness and drive follower growth.

Sean Riley, chief executive officer, Ad Dynamo, says people in Nigeria use Twitter to connect to their interests, from sports teams, cities, musicians or brands, adding that this gives brands powerful context to connect their message to what’s most meaningful to them.

“By targeting Twitter conversations and engagements based on interests, brands have the opportunity to grow their communities, tell their story, increase loyalty and ultimately increase referrals and sales,” adds Riley.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are not left out of the party. Shirley Igwe of Shilz Mega Concepts Ltd says in an interview that social media is helping her business a lot.

“I rely on Twitter to market my products because it is very effective. I have close to 10,000 followers,” she says. Patrick Onyekaba of Gap-Tooth Entertainment says the social media is a platform he employs to promote his business.

“I am very strong on Facebook, where I have over 3,000 followers. Facebook is the best because it commands massive followership,” he says.

In terms of social media usage, 73 percent of Nigerian users deploy LinkedIn for business purposes while 27 percent use the platform for socially-motivated activities, according to TwinePine. 37 percent of social media users employ Twitter for business purposes while 63 percent use it for social activities, it says.

Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.

Twitter is a free micro-blogging, or social messaging tool that lets you stay connected to people through tweets – a Twitter-specific post that can contain up to 140 characters, images, or videos.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a social networking site designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.

Google+ is a social networking and identity service that is owned and operated by Google Inc.

Ben Uzor