Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Why is Facebook losing active users in Nigeria?


By Emeka Okoye

Facebook, the social network giant, has lost more than 1 million (24%) Nigerian users between January and April 2013, according to data from social media monitoring firm, SocialBakers (http://www.socialbakers.com/).

Facebook monthly active users (MAU) in Nigeria peaked at 6.5 million and by end of April they were down to 5.2 million but this does not mean that users have left Facebook altogether.

This means that over one million people have not logged into Facebook between January and April 2013. Nigeria is ranked 35 on the list of countries with most Facebook users.

Facebook , once the top social network in Nigeria, is now losing steam to mobile chat (messaging) and flirting platforms like 2goWhatsappBadooEskimi and other social networks like Twitter .

What can be attributed to this trend?
With my knowledge and insight on the mobile landscape and ecosystem in Africa and especially Nigeria, I have identified the factors behind this trend which can be attributed mostly to social behaviours and platform influence.

The factors are as follows:
Facebook is still the platform of choice to make new friends or meeting people for the first time due to its large user base but once the friendships have been cultivated and cemented, Facebook loses its novelty in taking these friendships or relationships to the next level of socialization which requires real-time interactions like Whatsapp2goTwitter .

Facebook will continue to grow in registered users but the generation 'Z' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z) and the earliest registered users seemed not to be too excited about using Facebook always.

Facebook , with its huge digital assets and properties and the large business (advertising) content, is best experienced with smartphones. There are only 4 million smartphones out of the 100+ million phones in Nigeria. Facebook app is not efficient with data in a country where internet access and electricity has made browsing the web in a smartphone an expensive luxury.
- The majority of Facebook users, who are on feature phones are not having the same experience with that of smartphone users so they switch to other platforms where they can easily communicate with their friends singly or in group conversations and easily share photos and videos in real-time on feature phones with less keypad clicks practically for free. Facebook is simply too complex for these tasks.

- The likes of 2goWhatsapp allows you to communicate with those you already have a relationship with, so most likely people are spending more time with those they know very well and they are not more than 10 meters away from their phone

Whatsapp and 2go are known to perform well at low bandwidth connections and consume less data.

- The likes of Whatsapp and 2go are serving as a cheaper replacement for SMS among the youth (65% of Nigerians are youths).

The Shift

The shift towards real-time platforms is not only happening in Nigeria but in other African countries like South Africa and also in Asia like in Japan and Korea (http://twitter.com/emekaokoye/status/328832381337358336).

 In Nigeria, Twitter is gaining from the drop in Facebook active users (http://twitter.com/emekaokoye/status/335028543425740800). It is important to understand that emerging markets consume digital media in a different way to developed markets.

Also note that recently we’ve seen a lot of posts and news articles that analysts have predicted about the potential for chat apps to take over the role of SMS.

 In Nigeria, 2go has 13+ million users, whatsapp has an estimated 6 million users,Eskimi has more than 5 million users and Twitter has more than 3.5 million users.

In conclusion, Facebook has not delivered a simple, real-time and cost efficient experience to meet the needs of most of their users in Nigeria.

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