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How the digital media would influence 2019 Nigerian elections

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The media would play a significant role in messaging and shaping choices as Nigerians prepare for the 2019 elections. What is unclear is what nature that would take and in what directions. The increasing fragmentation of media is making it difficult to arrive at clear-cut predictions.
We examined last week the growth in the number of radio stations across the country. On the surface, that should make radio the dominant medium for messaging in the country, right? Not so, according to data from last year published in January 2018.
Every year, HootSuite and What is Social combine their resources to gather data and insights into the digital ecosystem. They look at digital across the world, regions of the world and specific countries. Digital and its evolution are subjects of interest for all engaged citizens across the world, given the rapidity of changes and in particular the impact of the technology and the products around it. They survey citizens. The results they bring forth for 2018 are provocative.
The big players in digital are Google, Facebook and Alibaba. The issue of the moment is how to accelerate internet adoption in the developing world, with implications for the future of the net. Hootsuite predicts that the players would create globally scalable products that address the needs of the next billion as well as those of existing users. Have you noticed the aggressive advertising of Google in the country, offering a variety of products?
Audio-visual content would grow on all platforms and devices. It is “more accessible to people with lower levels of literacy or fluency in foreign languages”. The next wave of developments would be voice control to replace keyboards or typing especially for search and social media interactions.

Facebook keeps growing its numbers. The Facebook nation now accounts for 2.17b people, half the number of people on the Internet at 4.02b and a significant proportion (28.5%) of the world’s 7.59b population. There are 5.13b people using mobile to access the Internet.
YouTube is next to Facebook globally, with 1.5b users while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both account for 1.3b users each. Instagram is at 800m.
Africa accounts for 1.22b people with 435m of these as users of the Internet. Hootsuite extrapolates to arrive at an Internet penetration of 34% for all of Africa. Active social media users grew 12 percent from 2017 to 2018. Across Africa, 52percent of users access the Internet via their mobile phones while 43percent do so on laptops and desktops.
Digital in Nigeria presents instructive numbers. Hootsuite puts our Internet users at 94.8m at January 2018 against the figure of 100,234,283 recorded by the Nigerian Communications Commission for the same period. According to HootSuite, 19million people or 10% of the country’s population are active social media users. Of this number, 17m access their social media platforms via mobile while unique mobile users stand at 105m.
Of interest is HootSuite’s data that 18million Nigerians actively use Facebook every month. The majority access it through their mobile devices.
What platforms do Nigerians patronise? WhatsApp and Facebook share the honours as the dominant social media platforms at 41percent. Instagram follows at 25 percent, sharing with YouTube while Facebook messenger is next at 24 percent. Others are Google+ at 15percent, Twitter, 13; Snapchat, 9; Skype, 7; Linkedin, 6; Pininterest, 4; and Badoo, 3%.
Top of the mind awareness is one key metric people in Integrated Marketing Communication use readily. It is more so in advertising. According to HootSuite, the number one advertising medium in Nigeria based on consumer recall or “first awareness” is television. It scores 38 percent. Online and an unclear “other” combine to score 27 percent. In-store advertising is at 13percent. Press at eight percent ranks higher than radio at seven percent and posters at five percent.
Television remains very strong even in the age of digital. Of devices people use to get their information, television at 84 percent is second only to the mobile phone (all types) at 98percent while the smartphone is third at 56percent.
WhatsApp has proven to be a disruptive medium in both the favourable terms in which techies use disruption and in negative ways. WhatsApp is now the leading connection platform for groups, ranging from old students to religious and neighbourhood. WhatsApp is the arena for Citizen Journalism of the vilest sort. It is common to read headlines such as this concerning the medium: “Seven dead in India after fake news spread over WhatsApp incites mob violence”. Please watch out for WhatsApp. Be media literate about the positives and negatives of this medium that is the number one messaging platform in our land. WhatsApp holds the first position also in Ghana and most of West Africa.
In this new era, much damage is possible through careless deployment of messaging on the various social media platforms. Be alert.

Source: businessdayonline.com

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