The Nigerian social media sphere started off like its peers around the world. First attracting only individuals seeking to keep up with friends and strangers. But that was back then. The community has since grown to attract both businesses and governments.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced his 2011 presidential ambition on his Facebook page, positioning his regime as one with full understanding of the significance of Nigeria’s social media community. Following the pace set by the president, many government agencies jumped on to the social media train in 2010. Many of these agencies have since dropped out of the community. Many left for not just being able to cope with the demands of social media. Others did not just know how to manage informing the public and receiving feedback.
But one government agency, the Information Ministry, has remained resolute, and stayed ahead of the pack in the use of social media to keep the public informed of government activities. While other government agencies withdrew from social media, the Labaran Maku-led information ministry opened a standard in the use of social media for government propaganda with the Nigeria Good Governance Tour campaign. The Nigeria Good Governance tour was conceived to show off the achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan and state governments in all the 36 states of the federation, and Abuja, the capital city. One of the key components of the tour was social media gauntlet.
The information ministry, headed by Maku, has displayed great sagacity in social media use for government propaganda at a time his colleagues in the government are backing off the internet for fear of insults from the opposition and critics.
The ministry knew the social media community was a place to harvest attention and it worked for them. The ministry’s Facebook page reached over 131,000 hits two months after it was established at the wake of the tour.
Currently, the page engages at least 5,500 following at every moment. Since then, the minister has used the page to update Nigerians on the good works of the government in the tour that has seen the minister and his team travel to over 30 states in the country.
Through the Facebook page, Nigerians are fed with pictures and videos of development projects the Goodluck Jonathan administration is executing across the nation.
The media has also relied on the Facebook page for resources. Images seen on the page often end up in pages of the newspaper the next day. The ministry also operates a twitter account, FMINigeria, which has constantly kept the social media community informed every minute of the tour. The ministry's twitter handle is one of the most followed government handles in Nigeria. The minister and his team managed to sustain a healthy discussion around the tour using the NGGTour since the tour started.
The ministry also operates a YouTube channel, which has helped Nigerians relate with the achievements of the President Jonathan administration through constant video uploads. The ministry’s youtube channel is equally active, with 137 subscribers.
The minister and his team constantly upload visuals from the tour onto the channel, helping subscribers and the global Youtube community acquire first hand knowledge about parts of Nigeria they ordinarily may not reach in their lifetime.
Interestingly, the ministry served live video broadcasts using the Livestream app, at a time when even the traditional media and other social media savvy businesses and NGOs are yet to fully understand and implement live streaming in Nigeria. Live streaming in a 3G-Internet based environment like Nigeria is a great challenge. But the minister and his social media team managed to pull that through, effectively to the awe of social media followers.
The ministry’s other social media channels remained live at all times in the tour despite Internet challenges one perceives they would face in remote parts of the country. The ministry, however, appears to have paid little attention to their website in all these new media drive. Perhaps, the website paid little attention to the tour. The ministry’s website seemed left out in the good governance tour coverage creating a huge gap between its social media channels and the website, which is supposed to serve as a content hub for the ministry.
The ministry’s website looks drape leaving visitors to wonder why the ministry could not put in the same level of effort it invested in the social media channels? The social media is on a roller coaster, and contents fed into it tend to be lost in sight easily.
The standard practice is that the website serves as a complementary content hub for the social media channels, offering visitors a one-stop-shop to the all other information they need or want.
The ministry of information is yet to realize this and runs a risk of losing its hard earned content, gathered through the tour, to the rolling time machine of social media channels. The torrents content generated through the tour needs to be neatly curated and served on its website. The ministry’s website, in deed, needs more work. It needs to be improved upon to show more of the good governance tour. This will help with content retainership, as well as increasing its user friendliness.
There is no doubt that the ministry has both human and material resources at its disposal to improve its website. With the feat displayed in its social media presence in recent months, including transmitting live streams from states that had no 3G networks, there is clearly no doubt that the ministry can do more for its website..