By Henry Daniel
Following the Ban of operations of an American microblogging website (Twitter), many Micro, Small & medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been experiencing setback by the act of federal government. To some digital entrepreneurs, the ban ‘serves as a red card for investors’ and is capable of increasing the crime rate in the country as young people who explore the platform for legal businesses go idling.
Though many voices have charged the FG to rescind its decision for the sake of those who eke out a living through the platform, but the FG has remained adamant, coming up with conditions to lift the ban. As a platform which provides social networking services that are prominent for disseminating information that occurs through the interaction with certain informational content known as Tweets, the platform has engaged young people economically especially those who see no enabling environment in Nigeria to do business outside the internet industry.
More so the platform has been a haven for digitally- inclined persons to freely express their views on socio-political and economic matters in the country as well as agitating for the betterment of the economy by raising their voices against hardships, unfounded policies and other socio-economic issues affecting them adversely.
Speaking with a young Digital Marketer/ entrepreneur, Olaseni Kehinde Precious, who expressed sadness said “It’s indeed crestfallen for a social networking service like Twitter to be strictly perceived and regarded as a socio-political platform without putting its industrial and economical benefits into appropriate consideration. This has exposed the Nigerian economy to certain economic disadvantages as a result of the crisis encountered by businesses that operate with the use of Twitter, with disastrous aftermath; and believe you me, this would lead to an increase in the crime rate when people, especially youths, who dwell on Twitter for their daily bread, now idle around,”
Counting her losses so far, the Twitter user maintained that not a few people have invested their time, energy, money and other resources into the digital space. Thus, Twitter is unarguably notable for its enormous contributions as a significant platform for not only creating brand awareness but wealth for users all over the world, Nigeria inclusive. “The platform makes brands reach out to a wider audience which is one of the core fundamental techniques of fostering and enhancing a great brand in a digital world. So, as one who uses Twitter for digital marketing and consulting, not a few people have lost fortunes, numerically from N200,000 and above so far.
To the investors, the digital Marketer posited that the ban serves as a red flag because, for some businesses, Twitter is a core platform for their growth and an advantage to investors who see no enabling environment for businesses to thrive in such a digital and technological era. “This act signaled a reduction in investors’ Return On Investment (ROI) and losses that may be warranted as a result of the market environment which is not favorable for businesses and investors themselves because, for every great company to emerge, there should be pro-business and economic policies as well as a promising market environment. But the absence of these would not augur well as the case of Nigeria is.
She continue, “The ban is an abysmal threat to the growth of businesses for many Nigerians in terms of expansion because a critical means of building a community has been abruptly thrown into a state of abeyance. Businesses are being restrained from carrying out their Business-to-Customer (B2C) activities, which is considered very significant (i.e. online engagement of customers is restricted). Small online businesses like mine suffer customer disengagement. Before now we used Twitter to build customers loyalty towards our brands. This also reduces the brand advocates that may emerge from making customers feel like a part of the brand through opinion polls used to improve on products or services as well as consistent, relevant, and engaging content that spur customers to tell the brand’s story remarkably. This is also a competitive advantage of businesses over their competitors because they can’t easily replicate such a community of customers. The ban also serves as a horrendous influence on the number of active community members,” she asseverated.
To another Twitter User, who is a Fabric/ fashion designer in Lagos, Ayemere Ofure Peace, the act has really distorted her connections with myriads of customers. she said, “Although some MSMEs invest in paid advertisement to expand their reach, however Twitter provides an incredible organic way of social networking between brands and customers by reaching almost all their customers with just a single tweet.
Ayemere added that she has been somewhat cut off from her customers noting that, “To a very significant degree, I have been cut off from my customers. You know Twitter is more pronounced than other social media platforms. Rather than businesses go through a herculean connections via telephone calls, emails, etc, in order to listen to certain grievances of customers or provide feedback, they can easily leverage Twitter in order to hasten the response rate as well as sort out situations that demand urgent attention of the brand.
“If the federal government of Nigeria meant well for citizens, the action of Twitter on President’s tweet should not cost nor make the entire country to bear the consequences. Recall that this administration has churned out so many economic plans to extricate Nigeria from economic retardation, but its ban on Twitter is not in tandem with its Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) well as its Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) since so many depends on the social media platform for survival.
“So, the inciting incident that changed the social narrative in the economy on 2nd June 2021 following the deletion of General Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet by Twitter which he addressed to southeastern part of Nigeria, that led to the indefinite suspension of the social platform does not hold water,”
She added that the Twitter ban by Nigerian government has become a hindrance to fixing some problems between brands and their customers which usually occurs through direct messages. “In fact, as a result of the effectiveness of Twitter in providing solutions to customers’ challenges, so many companies had to create separate accounts for “Customer Support” in order to easily communicate solutions for their customers’ problems.
“This is a substantial way for businesses to gather insight on their products’ technicalities which may warrant criticism to create room for adjustment. Funnily enough, the abrupt ban has rather done nothing but tampered with the flexibility of these businesses to easily communicate a way out.
“The ban is unarguably a red card to investors. People invest in the digital space as science and technology keeps transforming and disrupting the world order. With this, businesses that leveraged Twitter Influencer marketing as their core marketing strength will tremendously suffer low return on their investment and even the ones that invested in it as a secondary marketing and promotional technique can’t totally avert the drop in the investment capital. Small businesses that have already paid influencers to increase their reach and sales before the ban will suffer imminent reduction of awareness and conversion rate because the activeness of the influencer’s community is drastically falling due to the indefinite suspension.
“The Federal government has warned against using Virtual Private Network (VPN), but it should remember its campaign promises on Nigerian economy and its policies and Programs it embarked on within the last six years, and act accordingly to give Nigerians better living. Banning Twitter is antithetical [to this]. It would be of economic good if the government reconsiders the indefinite suspension and create an enabling environment for these businesses to thrive. Let the government’ actions match its words,” she implored.