analysisBy Goddie Ofose
Lagos — The 26-year-old founder and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, may be upbeat following the self-confession of the Nigeria's President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, over the effectiveness and efficiency of his invention in marketing and communications.
According to a statement from the presidency, the President overturned the ban because to hundreds of posts on his Facebook page which persuaded him to reverse his suspension of the national football team from international competition.
"I have listened to your voices, I read your comments and took them into account in the government's decision to rescind the suspension of Nigeria from international football," Dr. Jonathan said on Facebook.
However, the President's 'famous withdrawal' as it is referred to in many quarters has brought some succour to football-loving Nigerians, who despite Super Eagles ouster in the last FIFA World Cup in South Africa still glued to their television sets at every match.
The action from the presidency elicited both savoury and unsavoury reactions from the Nigerians and non-Nigerians. Corporate brands that benefit from sporting events like football sprung to action sponsoring several advertorials in the papers by listing some supposed benefits the country and indeed the game would lose if the suspension was not overturned.
Apart from corporate brands like Coca-Cola, Guinness and numerous others, House of Representatives also passed a resolution that the President should rescind his decision for the interest of football and its followers. This was fully backed by reports against the ban in both print and electronic media. International commentators were not left out.
To crown it all, FIFA, the football ruling body, wrote to the President to overturn his suspension or face a stiffer penalty however, all these plus moral suasion did not spur President Jonathan to cancel a two-year ban placed on all the national football teams in Nigeria. The only reason the presidency saw, which he said gingered the cancellation of the ban was the emotional outpour of Nigerians on his Facebook page.
Expressly enscripted on his Facebook page, the President wrote, "I read your comments and took them into account in the government's decision to rescind the suspension of Nigeria from International Football. I had a meeting with the NFF today (Monday) and conveyed my disappointment and those of Nigerians on this page and received assurances that there would be positive changes which would be institutionalised to make for a better team and better preparations for future events."
He added: "To Suleiman Musa, Nwanze Francis Uchenna and Ifade Udunayo Peter and the hundreds of Nigerians who appealed to me on this page, I have listened to your voices and those of others and we must now work together to make sure that the NFF and our players do us proud in future events," which was signed of with his initial GEJ.
The decision of Dr. Jonathan to join other Nigerians on Facebook was made on Saturday, May 15, when the President attended the 26th convocation of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. On that day, he promised to create a Facebook fan page to interact with Nigerians and promised to use the medium solve many challenging issues. "As I said on that day, there is an unchallengeable power of good in the Nigerian nation and her youth and through this medium I should keep in touch with everybody."
Since, the President or his aide in charge of Facebook Fan page has been interacting with the governed.
Besides this famous withdrawal through Facebook, the President has also begun to receive great ideas on how to make Nigeria state work. On one of the posts on his fan page, he wrote "Again I spent time reading your comments and yesterday a youth named Toyin Dawodu indicated that he had an idea for a project that could deliver 4,000 mega watts of electricity. I believe in the creativity and the spirit of innovation resident in our youth and I want to give Toyin Dawodu a chance to be heard." He added "Toyin, someone from my office will make contact with you regarding your idea. I know I cannot attend to every comment or suggestion due to time constraints, but please do know that I read them and they influence my actions."
To many, this is right step in the right direction, but some school of thought see it as an avenue that may prove some highly placed government officials outmoded.
Unlike other platforms in communications matrix, "Facebook is fast, unique, effective, cost-free and powerful communication tool. It interactive nature makes it desirable as a platform to pass message across to diverse publics and exchange ideas. The wider your friend-base the more penetration your message receives," Muyiwa Akintunde, executive director, Marketing Mix, an integrated communication outfit based in Ikeja stated.
It is a positive development having the Nigerian president discuss with ordinary citizens through this platform. But I hope it's sustained. A few state governors have opened Facebook pages but they couldn't cope with the high level of interactivity requires, he warned.
Facebook as a social media platform is very effective for consumer engagement or marketing. The President's page on Facebook has over 97,000 Nigerian members and when he posts any comment, everyone hears and sees. These people can talk to him making him very accessible. As of July 3, this is what the president said on his page
"I want to assure you that your feedback and comments on this page are important. I read them and they have influenced government's policy. On Monday, a young Nigerian named Tuokpe Onuwaje, who is resident in California, made a comment on this page expressing disappointment that though California has the 7th largest economy in the world, Nigeria does not have a consulate there, yet we maintain one in Atlanta, Georgia, which has a smaller economy. This youth further informed me that Nigeria had a property in California which was abandoned in the 80s. Upon receipt of this information, I instructed the Nigerian ambassador to the U.S to visit the property immediately and report back to me with a view to re-opening our consulate in San Francisco California. I am pleased to tell Tuokpe Onuwaje and all fans of this page that the visit was concluded today." This is what could have cost the government resources totalling in millions of naira if not dollars if some government delegations were to be led to examine the possibility of having a consulate in California and other sundry issues re-address. But it was done by unpaid and unsolicited Nigerians via Facebook.
According to Abasiama Idaresit, chief executive officer, Wild Fusion, Facebook representative in Nigeria, "Now this is a President that is using technology in this case social media to engage the citizens. Obama relied so much on social media networks especially Facebook to engage his audience and enable him secure the votes he did. The future of online advertising will have social elements at its core.
He said, social media platforms are very important platforms for online or digital marketing. Global brands such as Coca-Cola, Adidas, GE, HSBC and most Fortune 500 companies are exploring social media platforms for consumer engagement. Some Nigerian brands exploring or beginning to explore these platforms for include Sprite, Interswitch, Guaranty Trust Bank and Diamond Bank etc. They are achieving great brand exposure mileage online. These brands create presence for themselves on social media sites and their customers can speak to them and they speak back. This brings the brand closer to the consumer and creates a "human face" for their products.
With millions of Nigerians on Facebook and over 24 million Nigerians online, this audience cannot be ignored as engagement can be targeted to let say age, gender or nationality. Measuring and reporting engagement is possible on this platform.
With Facebook engagement ads, a brand can build online community, create viral awareness and achieve high exposure mileage through the use of Facebook engagement ads, CEO Wild Fusion, an exclusive Facebook media representative in Nigeria said.
The marketing prowess of social media network cannot be overemphasised. It ability to generate viral effect, customer engagement, lead generation and efficient feedback mechanism has prompt it instant success and brands' appreciation.
Isaac Umunna, brand analyst said, "Social networks such as Facebook are potent tools in modern communication and marketing. They are not only platforms to use and reach many people at the click of the mouse but also encourage instantaneous feedback, which is very important in making important decisions. I have reports in British papers of cases where unexpected throngs of upwards of a million turned up for a paper and wrecked the house after the teen organising the party posted the IV on Facebook. This illustrates the power of social networking sites as veritable marketing tools."
For Gbenga X-Adebija, Managing Director & Chief Executive, Ashton & Layton Facebook currently has over 400 million active users all over the world. In terms of sheer numbers and spread, it is an incredible marketing platform, since it allows cost-effective mono-level organisational and brand messaging.
President Goodluck Jonathan has opened door to those that still doubt the ability and capability of the social media network otherwise called new media in delivering value for their brands. Perhaps, both local and international brands would consider placing an ad on the president's Facebook Fan page as traffic to the site is unbelievably high.