Depending on who you ask, Nigeria has a population of between 170 and 182 million, with the highest demographic being under 30 years old.
Nigeria is a country of young people, millennials, who are passionate about music, gadgets and sport. Yet, Nigerian football clubs have been unable to tap into this demographic to create impact for themselves in a country where people are crazy about the game.
The recent Global Digital Football Benchmarking Analysis published by RESULT Sports of Germany showed that only one Nigerian club side made it onto the top 32 African list. Enyimba of Aba are listed in 31st place in Africa.
So why is it that clubs in a highly populated country like Nigeria have not yet found their feet on social media?
From my research, speaking to clubs during the writing of my thesis at the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi and subsequently, what I have discovered is the lack of understanding of social media by many club managers and owners.
While many clubs focus on their on-field performance, there is neglect for everything else. This results in the under-funding of the media department that handles social media.
My respondents speak of having to work with the club social media using their own resources – mobile phones, and data – with club executives uninterested in spending on equipment like cameras and editing suites to enable staff create better content.
There is an apparent disdain for anything that does not assist in adding to the bottom line which is to win matches and to get funding from agencies of state. Even the promise that growing your social media could result in the ability to negotiate higher sponsorship is stonewalled.
Otherwise, what explains the absence on the list of Kano Pillars, the most supported club in the country where every home game is packed at the Sani Abacha Stadium? Why have Pillars failed to convert their huge fan base into followers on Twitter and Facebook and other major platforms?
Until club management begin to see the need for active engagement with their fans through social media, that gap will continue to grow between the rest of the world and Nigeria.
The fact that the list is topped by the biggest clubs in the world – Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal – says a lot about their continuous attempts to grow both on and off the pitch.
Nigerian clubs need to understand that social media counts so they need to create active strategies to ensure they also win there.
To grow their social media, clubs must do in the following:
1. Content creation and curating
2. Invest in digital equipment
3. Hire social media savvy staff
4. Have an open mind to explore the digital space
5. Find what works for them
I am exploring active opportunities to train clubs and athletes in the use of social media. If you are interested in my services, please get in touch via email: jololade002 [at] gmail.com
You might also want to read my recent column for Goal where I write from a broader perspective for African clubs to turn the 700million mobile phones on the continent into football fans and followers on social media.