EFFECT OF TWITTER BAN ON THE MARKETING PERFORMANCE OF SMES BUSINESS IN NIGERIA
SMEs are the backbone of major developed economies and important contributors to employment, economic and export growth. In South Africa, SMEs account for 91 per cent of businesses, 60 per cent of employment and contribute 52 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product. In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48 per cent of the national GDP, account for 96 per cent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment.
With a total number of about 17.4 million, SMEs account for about 50 per cent of industrial jobs and nearly 90 per cent of the manufacturing sector in terms of number of enterprises, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Also, they have contributed about 48 per cent of the national GDP in the last five years.
The Internet encouraged the evolution of businesses, it changed how businesses interacted with their customers, and brought products a little closer to home for customers. Many SMEs leverage the Internet, especially social media, for their business activities (customer acquisition and service). There is a huge ecosystem on Twitter. Ogbu (2021)
No other platform as of today allows for the kind of engagement that Twitter allows; businesses might migrate to other platforms, but the Twitter ban is a loss for everyone. Digital media like Twitter are essential for information exchange, marketing customer services and remote work, especially during public health and safety emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension can slow commerce, cut productivity and ultimately cost jobs (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021)
Nigerians in Diaspora Movement (NDM) stressed that banning Twitter in Nigeria was an act of insensitivity considering the fact many Nigerians make a living through the site. NDM recollected that social media like Twitter have been proven to lift people, especially the youth, out of poverty through the acquisition and exchange of value adding ideas. To this effect, NDM hereby, unequivocally, calls upon the Nigerian government to reconsider the ban on Twitter without further delay (Paulinus and Obi, 2021).
Valentine Ozigbo, the immediate past President and Group CEO of Transcorp PLC in a statement acknowledged that Twitter is a platform that drives business and creates jobs for millions of Nigerians, especially the youth. “As a business leader and investor in technology and communications, I appreciate the role of social networking platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in driving business and the economy. This suspension will have untold negative consequences to our economy, or image as a democracy and the youth who use Twitter as a platform to advance their career (Adepetun, Aikulola, Nwokoro, Ugoeze and Akpa, 2021).
According to NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cyber-security and governance of the Internet, each hour of the social media gagging costs Nigeria about $250,000 (N102.5 million), bringing the daily loss to N2.5 billion. It means the economy would have lost approximately 7.5 billion in the past three days (4th June, 2021). The suspension has already created a market access gap for millions of small business and medium scale enterprises that use the platform to reach their customers. This could potentially complicate the challenges COVID-19 and other structural defects had imposed on businesses. Also affected is the e-commerce market in the country, estimated at $12 billion (Iyatse and Adepetun, 2021).
Most Information and Communication Technologies professionals described government ban on Twitter as a decision made without knowledge of technology’s dynamism. They argue that the decision could undermine the economic boost technology gives the country by way of consistently strengthening the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Osuagwu, Ndujihe, Njoku et.al, 2021).
The chairman, Mobile Software Solution, Nigeria, Chris Uwaje, opines that the ban would bring a monumental economic disfunction, with the capability to fuel more unemployment, whose disaster recovery damages will cost a long time to amend. He identifies the following as among the possible consequences of shutting down Twitter: massive damage to consumer, delay development of Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, massive cyber-attack on Nigeria etc. (The Guardian, Monday. June 7, 2021, P. 9)
In a report to Al Jazeera, Gbenga Sesan, executive director of the Paradigm Initiative, a panAfrican social enterprise working on digital inclusion and rights, opines that this ban will force investors out of Nigeria and also that global tech companies that want to investment in Africa are likely to consider a place like Ghana rather than Nigeria (Iyorah, 2021). Sesan also added that the suspension of Twitter sends the wrong signal to foreign investors; meanwhile, small businesses using Twitter as a source of livelihood in Nigeria will be affected due to the fact that businesses in Nigeria use digital media to reach customers, expose their brands and communicate with various stakeholders. That will definitely be affected by this erratic decision (Iyorah, 2021).
The President, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Steve Babaeko, observed that significant population of Nigerian youth earn their livelihood through Twitter, “some simply by being attack dogs or mouthpiece for politicians and the government” which by implication, income for those youths will be lost to the ban. On the other hand, unemployment among the youth segment currently stands at about 35%, depending on which state of the Federation one is looking at; with Twitter ban, the unemployment rate will worsen (Babaeko, 2021).
It was reported that about 39 million Nigerians have Twitter account. Many use the platform for businesses and networking, and as a result of this ban, the ability of this category of people to make
a decent living will be grossly affected. This will also affect foreign investments in Nigeria’s technology sector (Sikhakhane, 2021)
Statement Of The Problem
The Federal Government suspended indefinitely the operations of the micro blogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria recently. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, cited “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence” as the reason for the suspension.
A report by NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool discloses that Nigeria loses N90,712,044 ($250,600) every hour to the ban. According to a report by Statista, Nigeria has about 33 million active social media users, with about 26 per cent on Twitter, most of who run businesses on the platform.
Financial planner, Kalu Aja, when asked about the effect of the ban on businesses said, “Social media enables the brand to talk directly to consumers. It’s direct marketing, specific and targeted. There is no organisation on earth, profit or not for profit, without some form of advocacy via social media.
“The Twitter ban raises a narrative about doing business in Nigeria, and it’s not a good narrative. Specifically, Twitter and social media allow Small and Medium-scale Enterprises and sole proprietors with zero marketing budgets but a smartphone to build and communicate a brand promise.
“It provides an ecosystem of jobs for IT professionals, copywriters and even influencers. It makes the cost of commerce fall and even boosts trade, which generates VAT. It is a bad call to ban social media without options.”
In view of the above, this study is focused on examining Effect of Twitter ban on the marketing performance of entrepreneurs.
The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of the Twitter ban on small businesses in Nigeria. Specifically this study is aimed at;
- To critically examine whether Twitter’s ban will have a structural effects on SMEs in Nigeria.
- To determine the implications (If any) of twitter ban on entrepreneurs and customer relation capabilities of SMEs
- To investigate whether twitter ban will have any impact on the socio-economic development of Nigerian SMEs.
- What are the effect of Twitter’s ban on entrepreneurial business growth in Nigeria?
- What are the implications (If any) of twitter ban on entrepreneurs and customer relation capabilities of SMEs?
- Do twitter ban have any impact on the socio-economic development of Nigerian through SMEs?
The concept of twitter ban is a very recent phenomenon. Therefore its discourse in the academia is still developing and thus ensuring theoretical and practical underpinnings of the concept to the domain of communication still deserve an ongoing empirical inquiry. This warrants more research to shed more light on twitter ban.
The study will add to the existing body of knowledge on the subject matter. Students undergoing research work similar to the present study who may wish to use this work as a reference material or a spring board for their own work will find this work really useful.
This study will educate the Nigeria Government on the economic effect of twitter ban precisely against entrepreneurial business growth in Nigeria. The study will also inform them about the economic contribution of Twitter to the country and how it has offered income opportunities to many Nigerians. For SMEs, this study will educate them on the possible strategy to execute in order to absorb the massive effect of the ban. Lastly, this study will serve as a source of information for students, researchers, SMEs and even the public, who may carry out a study related to this.
This study only takes a look at how the ban on Twitter is affecting Nigerian Small and Medium Scale Enterprises that rely on the micro blogging site to promote and run their businesses.
Financial Constraints: The researcher was with limited funds and cannot visit all the areas to get responses from respondents but was able to get good information concerning the research topic.
Time Constraints: The researcher was involved in other departmental activities like seminars, attendance of lectures et.c which limited the time for the research but the researcher was able to meet up with the time assigned for the completion of the research work.Download Full Material-N4000