EFFECT OF TWITTER BAN ON SMALL BUSINESSES OPERATION IN NIGERIA ( A CASE STUDY OF SELECTED SMALL BUSINESSES IN PORT HARCOURT)
1.1 Background Of The Study
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are globally acknowledged as veritable tools for wealth creation, employment generation, and sustainability. Studies have revealed that SMEs have retained their position as the backbone of developed and developing countries as they account for about 70 and 95% of all business entities in most countries around the world and also create between 50 and 80% of employment (Ogbechie, & Anetor 2015). In Nigeria, SMEs play a significant role in generating employment and income generation opportunities for low-income earners in the economy. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (National Bureau of Statistics 2017), the total number of people employed by the SME sector in Nigeria as at December, 2017 stood at 84.02% of the total labour force.
In an era characterized by global cut-throat competition, a knowledge-based economy, technological advances and innovation, social media has played a pivotal role in increasing the competitiveness of SMEs (Aremu, & Adeyemi 2011). According to Oso (2011), one of the requirements of social media is that it can be viewed as a strategic tool for economic advancement, i.e. it can contribute to a nation's cultural, human, social, political, and economic development. Among these social media outlets who facilitate development in an economy is the twitter.
Twitter has become a source of livelihood, camaraderie, and information over the past 10 years in Nigeria. Hence, this recent Nigeria’s Twitter ban, proclaimed by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, has had a ripple effect on millions of Nigerians. The decision naturally sparked the anger of Nigerians, who see it as an attack on free speech by the government. However, freedom of speech is not the only thing affected (Vanguard News). Businesses in Nigeria are particularly vulnerable to the challenges imposed by the recent Twitter ban.
Small and medium enterprises are vital to the growth of Nigeria's economy, frequently providing as much as 60-70% of the economy with jobs. Numbering about 117.4 million, SMEs in Nigeria contribute to 48% of the national GDP, account for 96% of businesses, and 84% of employment. Many SMEs have leveraged the Internet, especially social media, for business activities such as marketing and customer service. The number of vendors on Twitter is a testament to this. While these businesses could move to other platforms, their posts might not gain as much engagement as Twitter provides. Thus, against this backdrop, this study intends to examine the effect of the Twitter ban on SMEs in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala estimates that 39.6 million Nigerians use Twitter - 20% of them for business advertisements and 18% to look for employment (Vanguard news). Scores of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa's most populous nation and largest economy are reeling from the indefinite suspension of Twitter. The suspension has been perceived to have a certain impact on businesses in Nigeria that utilize Twitter to carryout certain operations. According to the Vanguard online newspaper, the ripple effect of the ban will impact economic activities, some of which are sources of income for millions of young Nigerians and also online news platforms that leverage Twitter to extend their reach and bring news closer to the people will be halted. On the implications for technologically-based financial service providers, it pointed out that, "Fintech companies that do not have brick and-mortal branches use Twitter to intimate customers about their product offerings and promotions. Further more, Telecos also resolves several of their customer complaints through their social media handles and also intimates them about the latest promotions. " For investment platforms such as Piggyvest, Flutter0wave, among others, this latest development will massively affect their strategy of reaching out to their customers online. In view of the above, this study is focused on examining the effect of the Twitter ban on small businesses in Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of the Twitter ban on small businesses in Nigeria. Specifically this study is aimed at;
Determine if Twitter's ban will have a negative impact on SMEs in Nigeria.
Identify weather twitter ban will affect business to customer relations of SMEs.
Determine whether the Twitter ban will have an impact on the revenue of Nigerian SMEs.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
An hypothesis refers to an experimental statement, tentative in nature, showing the relationship between two or more variables. It is open to testing and can be accepted or rejected depending on whether it agrees or disagrees with the statistical test.
The study will test the validity of the following hypothesis:
H01: The Twitter ban will have no negative impact on SMEs in Nigeria.
H02: The Twitter ban will not affect the business customer relations of SMEs in Nigeria.
H03: The Twitter ban will not affect the revenue of SME businesses in Nigeria.
1.5 Significance Of The Study
This study will be relevant in various ways. Firstly this study will enlighten the Nigeria Government on the economic implication of twitter ban precisely against the growth of SMEs in the country. The study will also inform them about the economic contribution of Twitter to the country and how it has offered income opportunities to many Nigerians. For SMEs, this study will educate them on the possible strategy to execute in order to absorb the massive effect of the ban. Lastly, this study will serve as a source of information for students, researchers, SMEs and even the public, who may carry out a study related to this.
1.6 Scope Of The Study
This study is specifically limited to only determining whether the Twitter ban will have a negative impact on SMEs in Nigeria, whether the Twitter ban will affect the business customer relations of SMEs and whether the weather ban will affect the revenue of businesses in Nigeria. Hence this study is delimited to selected SMEs in Port-harcourt, Rivers State.
1.7 Limitations Of The Study
The limitations of this study include:
Finance: Due to the economic hardship that is faced by people, including the researchers, the possibility of a larger sample size which may have helped the work to cover many areas has become impossible. Hence, this work will be limited to only selected SMEs in Port-harcourt, Rivers State.
Time: It was not unusual that the researcher was constrained by a time limit, as it posed a serious threat to the successful coverage intended in the course of this study. It is the intention of the researcher to interview all the respondents from the selected SMEs, but because of various activities of the researcher which border on both academics, work schedules and other social activities, it has become relatively impossible to justify that intention.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
Social media, basically, concerns all forms of new media technology that offers interactive sharing of information, videos, pictures, text and comments with such websites as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, Youtube and Blogs.
Twitter is an American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as "tweets".
SMEs: Small and medium scale enterprises.
Aremu MA, Adeyemi SL(2011). Small and medium scale enterprises as a survival strategy for employment generation in Nigeria.Journal of Sustainable Development.
National Bureau of Statistics. Small and medium scale enterprises(SMEs) in Nigeria; 2017.Available:thenationonlineng.net/smes-contribute-48-gdp
Ogbechie R,Anetor FO (2015). An appraisal of succession planning in family-owned businesses in Lagos State, Nigeria.European Journal of Business and Management.
Oso, L. (2011). Mass Media and Society in Nigeria. 2nd Edition, African Books Collective, Oxford: UK.