BY Daniel Adeyemi
On Saturday the 5th of June, Wunmi*, a digital marketer lost a gig worth ₦600,000 ($1,200). The marketing campaign was to start the next day but she got a call from the client telling her they couldn’t proceed anymore due to ‘orders from above.’ She was dumbfounded.
That same day, about 39 million Nigerians woke up to realize that they couldn’t access Twitter except via VPNs. Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Nigeria like MTN and Airtel had blocked all access to Twitter.
When Peju, owner of Abebi Organics, describes the day the ban was enforced, she recounts how the jokes kept coming until one by one people found that they could not tweet anymore.
It’s been more than two weeks since and the effects of the ban have been anything but humorous for businesses like hers who built their customer base on Twitter.
The ban happened a day after the Nigerian government announced an indefinite Twitter suspension. The minister of information had stated that the reason for banning Twitter was because the social media platform has “consistently made its platform available to those who are threatening Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
While still mourning the loss of the first job, Wunmi lost another one for the same reason.
“Everything felt like a waste. What was worse was another ₦700,000 ($1,400) deal ended up in the mud. The client paid ₦150,000 ($333) at least for the little job I had done,” she said.
The effect on businesses
For many Nigerians, this ban has affected how they stay informed, build relationships and get opportunities. Businesses on the other hand have experienced a decline in engagements and sales.
In the case of Nifries, an online food delivery service that relies on Twitter to reach its audience, its customers aren’t responding as they used to.
Feranmi Ajetomobi, the founder of Nifries, explained that the Twitter ban has affected anon (short for anonymous) sales which drive about 20% of sales at Nifries. Anon sales happen when people surprise strangers or friends by buying goods for them without revealing their identity.
“We’ve realised that when we reach out to a few people and there’s no response, It’s either because they’ve taken a break or the Twitter ban has affected them. How we know it’s the ban is because when these people we reach out to come online, they attribute their absence to the fact that using VPN is confusing,” he said.
For Habib who runs Smiley Socks, a clothing company that also thrives on the ‘anon sales’ phenomenon, sales via Twitter have been affected. He’s also noticed that engagements with tweets have reduced.
This has made him turn to other channels. He’s had to pay more attention to his Instagram page and work on his SEO for his e-commerce website to maximise conversations.
Businesses might need to move to other social media platforms but Twitter offers more favourable returns in terms of marketing efforts.
Compared to other advertising channels, Twitter is a cheaper and less stressful channel.
He’s been trying to run a billboard campaign for the past 3 months and has been stuck waiting for Lagos’ paid advertising approval. For digital adverts, in less than an hour, the advert is approved and has started delivering value for the business.
“Unlike other social media platforms, take Facebook as an example. A typical page with 10,000 followers reaches 3% of your audience with a post. Meanwhile, on Twitter, an organic post can be retweeted. In terms of shareability and virality, there’s a reason why people love Twitter. I can say something and even if I have just 100 followers, 3 million people can see that tweet.”
That’s difficult on Instagram where you have to make the explore page or use a hashtag that people love to get a similar kind of result.
How much is being lost
Citing a scenario, he said, “If you’re currently managing a brand that has 20,000 followers, it’ll get 1-3 million impressions on average. To be conservative, at a 0.1% conversation rate, the brand will have an average of 1,000 – 3,000 new customers.”
With the Twitter ban, Nigerian businesses that have previously relied on the massive reach of the platform now face an avalanche of losses if the decision is not reversed soon.
And if we were to be a little hopeful and imagine a world where the ban is lifted, how much irreversible damage has been done to the potential audience reach these businesses used to have? We’ll find out soon enough.