“What do they even do on Twitter? When I tell my friends that I don’t see them on BBM or Facebook, they say they’re on Twitter.” – Anonymous
2011 year was the year of instant messaging services with the BBM the unrivalled leader. The year before it not being on Facebook was basically uncool. 2012 is undisputedly the year of Twitter. The microblogging service that allows only 140 characters was slow to take off in Nigeria for a social network site founded as far back as 2006. But in that inexplicable way in which fashions and fads rise and wane, Twitter has finally conquered the virtual social space of Nigeria, unleashing the unique attributes of the brash, bold and belligerent people of Naija – in 140 characters only. From organizing protests, crowd-funding and political mobilization, to ethnic and religious mudslinging, and getting an airline to replace a missing iPad, #Nigeria has continued to trend in the “Twitterverse.”
The utility of Twitter is such that it has become the number one aggregator of news – international and local, general and specialized and made citizen journalists of all of us; it has become the number one customer care portal with @MTN180 notoriously apologizing to someone every minute; political rallying point with the untiring @dino_melaye commanding his ‘loyal’ band of professional dissenters and the conscience of the nation with the unparalleled outcry over the #Aluu4 prompting the Police to fish out the barbarians in CSI fashion. Beautifully, Twitter has been deployed in crowdfunding to aid cancer patients and other terribly sick Nigerians in a manner unprecedented in a country with a torrid history of distrust and unrepentant internet scammers.
But for me most importantly, I see Twitter as an intellectually stimulating social media, where the conversation is always on-going and the youth of the nation – the future leaders – are getting a novel education and driving social-reengineering. This conversation is rich because of the diversity of participants which only social media can aggregate. Unlike Facebook which a has been described as a little town where everybody knows everybody, Twitter is the big city – the ‘Big Apple’ of the Social Media universe – with its dangers and delights, its @MrsGiroud’s and @Gidi_Traffic, its @ekekeee’s and @jesseoguns among a plethora of colourful, disparate and unique handles. That’s what they do on Twitter. Join the evolution.