We all saw these world maps of social media, where each country has the color of its main platform: Facebook in all western countries and much more, Qzone in China, and a few local resistants such as VKontakte in Russia.

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For the main tech giants, such as Google, Facebook or Amazon, the race is fierce to get an access to the emerging markets. The developed world is already quite saturated and each user cost a lot to enroll, while we know that before 2020, more than 3bn people will get online within the emerging markets. Hence the “battle of the air” between Facebook solar drones and Google balloons to connect new countries to their web.

Nigeria social media platforms: where Facebookers don’t go on Facebook

The case of Nigeria is pretty interesting, with both Facebook having an awkward place, and local players taking advantage of their better knowledge of the local users. Back in 2013, Facebook was still gaining users in Nigeria, but they peaked at about 6.5m, a drop in a country with 170m people and 10m more every single year (they will be about 440m in 2050).

It’s not that users are not using Facebook, which still has about 5.5m monthly active users. But Nigerians are not using the Facebook app, deemed too guzzling in data and not enough light for a local infrastructure reputed for its unreliability and high price. Instead, they use 2go and Eskimi, the two mobile social platforms who connect to Facebook and the likes, while offering a truly local service people stick to.

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2go screenshots on Android Play

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Eskimi screenshots on Android Play

2go has about 10m monthly active users in Nigeria (and 12m overall in Africa), while rival Eskimi has 8.8m MAUs on its side. Both apps operate in a similar way, starting with free messaging and adding quite a lot of features, such as paid-for “rooms” for private chats, games, job search and news. They also aggregate the main other social media platforms sur as Facebook Messenger and Google Chat.

2go and Eskimi: from chat apps to multi-content and multi-services platforms

Where these apps make a difference is both on the technology and the content:

  • In a region of feature phones, poor infrastructure and expensive data, all is optimized with lightweight pages, and an adaptation of the app to more than 2000 possible configurations of phones and OS (for 2go).
  • Content-wise, these apps cram all that people need in one place. Eskimi started as a chat app, and progressively added a music catalogue, the possibility for brands to create fanclubs (there are about 100 000 of them today), job search, and we can imagine them including health and education related services in near future

 

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Interestingly enough, both apps still built a desktop app for credibility. Many speakers and startupers at Mobile West Africa shared the power of having a multi-platform strategy, even though max 5% of their users access the service from a PC/desktop computer.

Advertising on mobile in Nigeria: this is how it works

Of course, both apps are free to download and include a few paid-for features, though it’s not how they can make most of their money. Just as Facebook, the sheer amount of data they collect among a fast-growing, young population is a boon for brand managers, marketing execs and advertisers.

On 2go Nigeria for instance, 85% users are between 18-35 years, with a profile of young professionals, ambitious, fashion conscious who can find both a link to the brands they like in the equivalent of pages as well as with ads. Advertismement formats include full screen splash adverts, text adverts, market research with polls, for a CPM of $4.80 and 5-10% CTR, which is quite a nice average. Campaigns also target political needs, such as registration of new voters in the 2014 South Africa elections.

 

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2go adverts full splash billboard of mobile west africa 2014 innovation is everywhere

 

 

Eskimi is clearly the rival app with similar features, reach, and data, even though their “fanclubs” look like an optimized and lightweight version of Facebook Pages (see below). Users spend 45% of their time to chat, 22% to interact with the fanclubs, 13% to browse the job search and 11% to listen to music. On Fanclubs, the reach of posts is usually between 15-20%, way more than Facebook, with 5x more engagement on average.

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It’s really exciting to meet these two apps right now. Nigeria will grow by 10m new people each year until at least 2050, and the country is also reputed for its cultural industry in the movies (known as Nollywood). We’ll see how the field of social apps is evolving over the months and years, with both the tech giants still in the place, and other projects such as the “all in one” Solo smartphone trying to get part of eyeballs of Africa’s biggest economy and population.