The social network, which has the online community as one of its subdivisions, has become a crucial part of our daily lives as technology advances.
With the dawn of online networking, people getting in touch with each other has been made easy. You can connect in seconds with a large number of people – friends, families, and strangers – individually or as a group.
According to Forbes, as of January this year, there were 4.02 billion internet users around the globe – that is 53 per cent of the world’s total population. Active social media users make up 3.2 billion, or 42 per cent of the population. “These numbers alone prove that social media is here to stay, if not to flourish further.”
Significantly, in the marketing world, social media cannot be disregarded especially as it gives much penetration.
According to recent research by the Global System of Mobile Communication Association (GSMA), the mobile market is significantly contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth. In 2017, it contributed $21 billion to the GDP, representing 5.5 per cent of the country’s total GDP. This has resulted in the creation of nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Transacting business online is no longer a new thing to online active Nigerians as some prefer it to other modes of transaction. It is arguably more comfortable, as many of the online vendors have a means of delivering the goods to the buyer at little or no extra cost.
Premium Times interviewed some entrepreneurs breaking borders on the social media.
When Taiwo Hassan graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2014, he was bent on creating his own job so he enrolled in an event planning class.
The graduate of Political Science and the brain behind @AHT_events said he had to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission in order to get an edge over others in the business. When he started two years ago, his main challenge as a newbie was customers asking for his previous works. But he said his boss came to his aid at that time.
He said he attracts customers on Instagram by paying a few social media influencers who help him to gain followers who later became his customers. Also, he gives his followers what he calls the “referral package.” This package, he explained, attracts a percentage of the profit from a deal to any follower who refers him to the client with whom he makes the deal.
“The main challenge I have right now is how clients price the services that they want to be rendered,” Hassan said.
“You have to take cognizance of the fact that you will pay for equipment rentals, so if you are not careful you will end up not getting anything from the work.”
Asked why he still rents equipment, he said, “It is not economically wise to keep buying them as new ones keep coming out.”
But he is looking into opening an equipment rental outlet of his own to generate additional cash flow.
Hassan said he gets his customers more on Instagram and also through referrals.
“The social media has helped all businesses a great deal. Lately, it has narrowed down some sorts of extra movement into just pictures and chats,” said Kema Abuede of @cakepriest.
A cake maker who has been in the business for 14 years, Kema stressed how the social media has helped make business easy for him in recent times as his clients no longer have to travel from other cities to see his work and what he is capable of doing.
“All they need to do is get your page ID, check your previous works, discuss and make payment and they, in turn, deliver.”
This, he said, saves time and helps people to keep their works online for a lifetime as against the archaic tradition of snapping and going about with hard copies.
The Mass Communication graduate of Auchi Polytechnic is also a teacher. He said the social media helps him publicise not just his work but his training, unlike in the past when he had to wait for a gathering, such as an exhibition, to share his fliers to publicise his training. “All you need to do now is post it on Instagram, Facebook or twitter. Your followers see it, broadcast it and it goes viral,” he said.
Kema said he registered since 2014 and by 2019, he hopes to be taking his chain of businesses to a different level. “I am taking different studies in movie making, and I have my instruments already. Hopefully soon, I will start by next year.”
Asked if he would consider an offer of a white-collar job, and how good he was doing with his business, he said, “To a great extent, it has been good. You know in the country we are now if you can feed your family and you are okay to a large extent, it is a big deal.”
Eighteen years old Precious Adelagun of @preciousbugatti_wears started her clothing business online two years ago because she was just not used to “depending on people for money.”
“I just want to be independent,” she said.
That was the reason she decided to start selling wears, “mostly ladies’ wear.” The ND 2 student of The Polytechnic, Ibadan said so far, her customers are more of people she met online and the business has really helped her in paying for her education.
“By next year, I will be launching my eyelash line. Everyone has been paid, the photographer, the model and also my supplier,” she replied coyly when this reporter asked her how profitable the business has been.
Aisha Afolabi and Ada Ezeh are students of the National Open University in Lagos and run @kaisha_skincareand @adahairline respectively. They said the social media has been a blessing for them as it allows them to operate their respective businesses without demanding much from them.
Aisha said the business is helping her fund her education and also gave birth to a new business of skin care, which she sees as “the trending business presently.”
“My hair business was doing well but later on, a lot of people started selling it, so I had to look for another biz that will move traffic for me.”
She explained that the process is not stressful for her as all she needs to get the cream prepared are there in Lagos. She has her customers and she had a medium of delivering to them without stress, so her schooling is not disturbed and she is making enough for herself.
Ada Ezeh, who is married, said she started her hair business recently and the worth now is more than triple her startup capital.
She said her only challenge initially was getting authentic followers who were willing to buy.
According to Ada, the first few months of the business was challenging as her goods were just in the house “staring at me.” But now, she is making sales and also able to look after her toddler at home.
Mrs Ellah Umeh runs @veronicasdaughter, a fabric page on Instagram. She started selling her fabrics from the trunk of her car until she opened business pages both on Facebook and Instagram. Now she delivers to customers nationwide.
The doctoral student of the University of Port Harcourt said “I sell more online, all I need to do is snap a very good picture of the fabric and advertise on my business pages. Customers call and ask for price and for delivery too.”