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How Nigerians use social media

by Editor

August 1, 2013 | 5:02 pm
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With a population of 167 million and 56 million internet users as at December 2012, Nigeria is the biggest internet market in Africa. Of the 115 million mobile telephone subscribers in the country, 35 million use their handheld devices to access internet data services.

Between 2000 and 2012, internet penetration grew from a paltry 0.06 percent to 34 percent, and there are indications that this trend will continue well into 2020.

Nigeria will remain the largest internet market on the continent in the near future because it has a large youth population (one-third of the population is between the 10-24 years age bracket) and a growing middle class estimated at 23 percent (appx. 39 million) of the population by Renaissance Capital in 2011. Nigeria has a fast-growing number of the two classes which traditionally drive internet usage around the world.

In Nigeria, there is a draught in a comprehensive attempt to profile Nigeria’s online users and to give a description of what they do online, where they do it, what devices they use to access the internet, and the factors which affect what they do online at any particular time. Thus BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) has investigated the trends and has a comprehensive report on these behaviours. Excerpts of the survey section of the report are detailed below.

Survey methodology

Conducted between May and July 2013, the survey randomly drew respondents from Lagos (82 percent), the FCT, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ogun and Rivers online. An online portal which was programmed to reduce the incidence of multiple responses from single individuals was deployed. Questionnaires were then distributed across multiple channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Gmail and specific company email addresses.

While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing internet users, which are the focus of the research. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behaviour.

Most of the respondents are employees in the financial services industry (29 percent), manufacturing outfits (5 percent), public sector/civil servants (20 percent), agriculture (3 percent), while media, ICT and oil and gas account for 45 percent.

More than half are mid-level management staff; senior management staffs make up 16 percent of sampled individuals, while non-management personnel make up 21 percent of respondents. Only 7 percent are business owners.

Gadgets used to access the internet

There is a clear pattern in the distribution of gadgets used to access the internet. Laptops are the most popular. They constitute 62 percent of gadgets used to surf the web. Phones and desktops account for 49 percent and 47 percent of gadgets used, while tablets account for the lowest percentage, 24 percent (most respondents use a combination of gadgets).

We believe that the preponderance of mobile computers has adversely affected the trend in gadgets used for internet access as more and more individuals are interested in platforms which avail them of the internet on the “go”. Based on this, we expect further increase in the demand for more mobile computers as more individuals transit from the traditional cathode ray tube systems to lighter, more energy-efficient computers. Also, we see an expansion of demand for mobile internet bundles.

An examination of the responses based on gender reveals that, apart from tablets, females are more likely to use light gadgets than males, but there is no significant difference in the percentage of usage across gender.

But the preponderance of tablets is higher among males than females. Response pattern does not show an established variation between age and the type of devices used to access the internet.

Brands used to surf the internet

Respondents were asked if they use particular brands for online access. Their responses present a kaleidoscope of information which gadget marketers and makers can use for strategic campaigns. They were asked along phone, laptop, desktop and tablet lines.

Phone brands

More than half of respondents use BlackBerry smartphones for internet access while Nokia and Samsung account for 24 percent and 19 percent, respectively, of gadgets used to access the web. Other important bands include the iPhone which is used by 5 percent of respondents, and Sony Ericsson, used by 2 percent of respondents.

We believe that the Sony Ericsson brand is yet to make a major mark on the Nigerian phone user; also, though Apple products are considered as premium in the country and are thus used by a select few, pricing can, however, tilt this equation in favour of the brand.

Both brands may gain more ground through advertising, putting in place some price discrimination in favour of the Nigerian market which is still very fruitful for smartphone users. For the low-end market, Nokia phones seem to dominate the market with other brands, mainly from Asia, making a significant entry into the market.

When gender is factored into the equation, the picture seems to be a little more detailed as a higher percentage of females use BlackBerry smartphones than males. Sixty-seven percent of phones used by females and almost half (45 percent) of phones used by male respondents to access the internet are BlackBerry handsets.

For the male segment of the market, 21 percent use Samsung smartphones while 17 percent of females who took the survey use the Samsung brand for internet access. Nokia accounts for 27 percent of phones used by males for access while the brand accounts for 8 percent of phones used by females.

Laptop brands

Data from respondents shows that HP brand come top among the brands used to access the internet by respondents. We believe that this can be used as a proxy for the most popular laptop brands in Nigeria.

The brand accounts for over a three quarter of laptops used by respondents to access the internet and 61 percent of desktops used. Also, correlated with HP is the Compaq brand which also accounts for a significant portion (13 percent) of laptops which respondents say they use online.

Dell is also a formidable brand in Nigeria as it accounts for 13 percent of laptops and 18 percent of desktops used to access the internet by respondents. Other important brands which respondents indicate that they use are Acer, Mac and Samsung. These brands represent a minor percentage of computers used by respondents.

It is not obvious that there is an age or gender bias to the use of any particular brand. A male is equally likely to use a HP laptop or desktop as a female. What is, however, different is that males seem to exploit a more assorted array of brands while females use the traditionally known brands.


The share of tablets as gadgets used to access the internet relative to other gadgets is still small. However, Samsung and Apple products account for all tablets used by respondents.

For the males and females sampled, Samsung tablets account for a higher portion of tablets in use. They account for 60 percent of gadgets among males and 67 percent for females. Thus for every one iPad in use, there are at least two Samsung tablets. Difference across the age brackets for particular brands is not obvious.

How respondents use the internet

The main reason respondents browse the internet is to search for information. Other major reasons include sending emails and work.

As many as 84 percent are online for information gathering purposes, 81 percent use the platform mainly to send e-mails, while for 76 percent it is part of their work tools. Though social media is important to users, only 45 percent of those sampled see it as the major reason they go online.

From the responses, it can be inferred that there is less buying and selling activity online among respondents compared to other online activities. Only 7 percent of them see buying and selling as a major reason they are on the internet, while 19 percent see paying for services as a major reason for being online. Finally, 26 percent of all respondents consider checking bank accounts as a major reason for going online.

We believe there is a vacuum in online sales and marketing in Nigeria even as internet penetration continues to grow. But there is evidence that more individuals have embraced internet banking compared to buying and selling online. Trust, access to online payment infrastructure and knowledge of how these processes work have been identified as clogs in the wheel of online buying and selling business in Nigeria. We believe that continued reinforcement of publicity on how the whole process works and how safe and easy it is can significantly tilt the equation in favour of online buying and selling in the country.

Viewed from the point of view of gender, the major activities carried out online are the same. But while 6 percent of females see buying items online as a major reason for being on the internet, only 1 percent of males have the same view. Also, while 8 percent of female respondents see paying for services as a major reason for being on the internet, only 4 percent of males have the same view.

Social media sites with the buzz

Across the website types, social media accounted for by far more traffic. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, My Space, Tumblr and Instagram were among the social media platforms investigated in the survey. Of the lot, 73 percent of the respondents said they are active on Facebook daily, 35 percent are active on Twitter, while LinkedIn accounts for 25 percent of social media presence. On the other hand, Tumblr, My Space and Instagram are yet to make any impact on respondents. Their combined patronage is less than 2 percent of respondents.

All the females that took the survey say they visit Facebook regularly, while more than a three quarter use Tweeter. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they use LinkedIn and Skype, respectively, while Google+ and Whatsapp are used by half of female respondents, respectively. Less popular sites among females include Instagram and Pintrest. Both sites account for less than 15 percent of female traffic.

We believe this information is important to brand advertisers and publishers who work on female-sensitive brands. Targeting online advert in the direction of websites with most of the female traffic will create the level of brand resonance, reach and reaction which advertisers seek. Since more women frequent these sites, the probability that an online campaign targeted through them will succeed is higher.

Not all male respondents visit Facebook. Only 97 percent of male respondents have Facebook accounts and use them regularly, though this is significant. LinkedIn is the second most important social media site visited by males, more than half (56 percent) of all respondents to the survey use it.

Google+, Y-Messenger, Skype, and Tweeter are used by an average of 50 percent of respondents, while sites like My Space and Instagram have very low penetration among those sampled.

Advertisers and media executives who want to engender brand awareness can use the information contained in the complete report for selecting the best platform for online ads.

What sites do people visit using mobile devices?

One important finding in the survey is that the amount of traffic sites enjoyed is different depending on what each site offers. But even among sites which offer the same services, there are more hits for some sites than others.

Respondents to the survey were asked about the websites they visit most on their mobile phones and the results show that Facebook, Yahoo, Google and newspaper sites have the highest patronage.

As many as 73 percent of the respondents said they use Facebook on the go, while Tweeter and LinkedIn have 35 percent and 30 percent of respondents’ attention. The survey shows that MySpace, Instagram and Tumblr have gained little ground in Nigeria. Their average patronage is less than 2 percent of respondents.

Apart from social media, Yahoo, Gmail and newspaper websites are the most frequented. Sixty-five percent of respondents visit Yahoo daily, 44 percent of respondents visit Gmail and newspaper websites sites daily, while recruitment sites attract 13 percent of traffic. Also important is the level of attention received by Nigerian and foreign corporate sites: they attract 12 percent and 19 percent of traffic, respectively.


Nigeria presents an exciting environment for ISP and online advertisers. But understanding the dynamics of the internet and the way those who use it do will go a long way to engender their success. The online environment is very dynamic and the most recent information must be obtained as soon as it is available.

To get the full report, please send an email to or

by Editor

August 1, 2013 | 5:02 pm
12893  |   93   |   0  |   Start Conversation

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