Twitter’s indefinite suspension by the Nigerian government still lingers and it remains uncertain how long the ban will be in place notwithstanding the outrage it has generated.
For civil society groups, it’s an attack on free speech by the Government. More than that, business and economy analysts argue that the ban will affect the country’s economy, weaken investor confidence and impact negatively on business and development.
Of the over 39 million Nigerians holding Twitter accounts, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMES) known for their high-level dependence on social media for business transactions and communication – are envisaged to be seriously impacted. Of that group, influencers – who really are marketing agents and rely on twitter for a living – are worse hit. The influencer marketing space in the country has grown so much in recent times. Prior to the ban, most twitter trends were created by Twitter marketing influencers. Almost anyone with a dedicated army of followers, uses Twitter to snag deals with organisations looking to extend their reach with ease.
Organisations working with them will not find it difficult switching tents to other channels for their marketing activities, but not influencers. The immediate option before them is the VPN services, again, that won’t work for their followers. Cost may either be a hindrance or a reluctance to them. The ban is a bad story for influencers and freelancers, varying from social media managers, content creators and product photographers, whose careers are highly dependent on the platforms.
Nigerians have come to rely on Twitter to get jobs, investors and fill vacancies, all activities that the ban would greatly hinder as it lasts. It’s the same for startups as most of their activities depend, in some part, on social media. With no access to social media to run marketing campaigns or build relationships with their customers, business will be a misnomer, the same for built applications with Twitter APIs. While these businesses could find ways to innovate around the ban by moving to other platforms, their users may not be able but it’s the immediate option available.
As Government and Twitter go into discussions soon to sort out the issues and get the suspension on the microblogging site lifted, the ban has shown it unwise to continue to depend on a single platform for business exploits. It’s time we seriously explore other digital options for our businesses, including the WhatsApp, Zoom, Netflix, Skype, TikTok, Clubhouse and off course, the Indian microblogging service, Koo, which has not only announced its intention to expand into the country but has publicly declared that the Government of Nigeria has joined its platform.
Available on both Google Play and App stores, Koo is reportedly downloaded already by over five million users on Google Play store. The interesting thing about this is that Twitter for Nigerian businesses will not anymore remain a monopoly after the ban is lifted.