JANUARY 17, 2021 This newsletter is a weekly in-depth analysis of tech and innovation in Africa that will serve as a post-pandemic guide. Subscribe here to get it directly in your inbox every Sunday at 3 pm WAT
This is my first contribution to The Next Wave as Managing Editor and I am a mix of nervous and excited. Speaking of nervous, 2021 is heating up in unexplainable ways. Between news about Trump’s impeachment, the NIN palaver in Nigeria, spiking COVID numbers, and social media blackouts in Uganda, many people are unsure about where to focus their attention.
I’m curious about the ways social media will impact us this year. Last year, my Twitter screen time went up by 10% almost every day. The coronavirus crisis plus the lockdown restrictions drove me, and many others, to Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. We were looking to stay connected to our friends but also form new connections with online strangers.
Two years ago, I deleted my long-running Twitter account and created a brand new profile with hopes of keeping it clean and professional. My timeline is carefully curated to only show tweets by friends and acquaintances. However, I still spot the occasional explicit photo and video retweeted to my feed.
Last week, a Twitter user created a thread of TikTok videos that showcased young Americans trying Fufu and Egusi soup for the first time on camera. In one video, a young woman spat out her fufu after the first bite (literally). In another video, a young man gagged and scratched his tongue after trying his meal.
At the time this newsletter was written, the #fufu hashtag had 224.1 million views. Incredible to say the least. The TikTok app is no stranger to viral videos and widely replicated trends and challenges. In 2020, an older white man, with a feather tattooed on the back of his head, posted a video of him skateboarding, drinking cranberry juice and vibing to Fleetwood Mac. His video went viral and garnered 12.5 million views on TikTok.
Many African content creators enjoy great popularity on TikTok– like Moyin and Doyin, the twin sisters who went viral after they pranked their mother on camera. In April 2019, TikTok hosted a meet-up at the University of Lagos in Yaba. The event drew social media influencers and popular content creators like Gloria Oloruntobi, otherwise known as Maraji.
I’m eager to see more African businesses, especially businesses that sell their products directly to consumers, use TikTok to connect with their young and digital buyers online. There’s obviously the question of returns on investment and money spent on influencers; nonetheless, I am for brands embracing various social media platforms.
I’m hoping to see more talented African creators using TikTok to cast a positive light on the continent. The foreign media is unafraid to present a mostly one-sided view of Africa, so it’s up to us to use social media and technology to reveal the truth.
FROM THE CABAL
Bobi Wine and Uganda’s demand for change
Amidst reports of military presence on its streets and directives to shut down the internet, Uganda ran its presidential elections on Friday. The people of Uganda came out in droves to vote for a new president. The country has been run by incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power since 1986. Museveni’s opponent, Bobi Wine, is a singer-turned-politician with a tenacious spirit and a streetwise heart.
What you should know:
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) ordered internet service providers to shut down all social media services.
Bobi Wine’s journey to the presidential elections has been fraught with violence and contention with the Ugandan police force.
Ugandan citizens experienced an internet blackout on election day. The blackout was enforced by the government and led to an outcry on social media by both Ugandans and other Africans worldwide.
Mitchell Chibundu wants more people to care about product design. In her introductory design textbook, Clueless to Designer, she takes her reader on a journey to understanding design concepts.
THE CRYSTAL BALL
“As the ecosystem continues to mature, we will see more venture-backed founders and operators taking a chance on novice founders by backing and supporting them, at the very earliest stages, with financial and business capital. It encourages more founders to build and it creates wealth for the ecosystem.”
– Dayo Koleowo, Partner at Microtraction.
Every week, we ask our readers, stakeholders, and operators in Africa’s tech ecosystem what they think the new normal looks like. We share their thoughts and opinions in this section of The Next Wave. You can share yours with me via email [firstname.lastname@example.org] with ‘The Crystal Ball’ in the subject line.
DM for price
Scrolling through Twitter on Saturday, I found a tweet advertising a luxury gifting box worth almost a million naira ($2,520). My first thought was, “Why would someone sell this on Twitter?” But then again, I thought, “Why not?”
From people selling clothes, books, artwork, food, pets, and even recreational drugs, social media is finding more use for commerce – 1 in 4 business owners are selling on Facebook. Selling on social media helps merchants easily identify and engage millions of potential customers, especially through the use of ads.
50%of customers are more interested in a brand after seeing it on Instagram. However, high impression rates do not always reflect in conversion rates.
Yet, Africans spend hundreds of millions in US dollars on social media advertising yearly. In 2019, Nigerians spent $516m on social media ads. In Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, $66m, $115m, and $441m was spent respectively for the same purpose.
These ads are used by millions of businesses globally – Instagram Ads are used by 4 million businesses monthly – making billions of dollars in ad revenue for social media platforms. Ad revenue for Instagram was $13.86bn in 2020, a 68.2% increase from $9.45bn in 2019. Facebook is projected to hit $94.69bn in ad revenue in 2021, compared to $55.01bn in 2018. The question though is if it is really a win-win situation.
It’s easier for more established brands to overlook ad costs. But social media platforms are full of e-commerce newcomers trying to support their income; most of them are unable to afford to spend too much on ads. Thus, smaller businesses can either choose the opportunity to reach a wider audience at a cost or rely on organic growth through shares, reposts, retweets and DMs.
Thank you for taking the time to read today’s edition of The Next Wave. Remember to stay safe when you are out in public places– protect others by wearing your mask and sanitizing your hands.
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