Social media: Facilitating e-commerce for the digital economy
By Inyene Ibanga

TECHDIGEST – Social media is a powerful tool for communication. It has the ability to connect and share information with anyone on earth or with many people across geographical divides simultaneously.

It is very useful for conducting transactions, directing shoppers toward a new product or an attractive deal, engaging with them and creating a sense of community or togetherness.

Social media refers to websites and applications that are designed to allow people share content quickly, efficiently, and in real-time.

They are computer-based interactive technologies that facilitate the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities.

By design, social media is Internet-based and gives users quick electronic communication of content. Such content includes personal information, documents, videos, and photos. Users engage with social media through devices such as computers, tablets, or smartphones, through web-based software or applications.

Forums, blogs, micro-blogs, wikis, social curation, social bookmarking, social networking sites, photo-sharing sites, instant messaging, video-sharing sites, podcasts, and widgets are among the many types of social media.

There are over 103 social media networks that are available to help subscribers build valuable connections in diverse areas of interest. Some examples of popular social media sites/platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Reddit, Wikipedia, Tik Tok, and Clubhouse, among others.

According to DataReportal, there were 4.48 billion social media users around the world in July, representing almost 57 per cent of the total global population.

These figures suggest that more than 9 in 10 internet users now use social media each month.

As at January, there were 33 million social media users in Nigeria. This was equivalent to 15 per cent of the total population within the same period. It showed that the number of social media users in Nigeria increased by 6 million between 2020 and July 2021.

Basically, billions of people around the world use social media to share information and make connections among different communities. Social media allows people to communicate with friends and family, learn new things, develop their interests, and be entertained.

Also, other individuals use social media to broaden knowledge in a particular field and build professional networks by connecting with other professionals in a specific industry.

Now, due to the COVID-19 crisis and the increase in digital innovations, the retail sector has undergone unimaginable changes. As a result, retailers are embracing social media as a communication method to reach out to customers and remain relevant in the cyber market landscape.

Globally, the galloping pandemic has continued to fuel a massive upsurge in the number of e-commerce websites and platforms catering to the various interests and tastes of buyers.

E-commerce is crucial to the promotion of physical distancing and avoidance of crowded shopping environments, thereby helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

E-commerce (electronic commerce) refers to the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. It covers every form of business transaction conducted online.

Online shopping is the most popular example of e-commerce. However, e-commerce can also involve other types of activities that include online auctions, payment gateways, online ticketing, and internet banking.

Evidently, social media is a critical element driving the advancement of the flourishing e-commerce sector. As a high yielding tool for marketing, promotion and sales, it helps e-commerce businesses identify customers, engage with them, build trust, gain sales opportunities, and deliver quick support.

In terms of customer feedback, social media makes it easy for customers to tell a company and everyone else whether their experiences with that company are good or bad. Using social media, businesses are able to respond very quickly to feedback, attend to customer problems and maintain, regain or rebuild customer confidence.

E-commerce-based businesses are leading drivers of growth and diversification of Nigeria’s economy. The sector is boosting the economy by increasing productivity, encouraging innovation, bettering knowledge management, educating customer and driving finer shopping experiences.

The current e-commerce spending in Nigeria is estimated at $12 billion, and is projected to reach an impressive $75 billion in revenues per annum by 2025, according to the International Trade Administration.

Jumia, Konga, Payporte,, Ajebomarket, VConnect Nigeria, Printivo, Obiwezy, OLX,, Kusnap, and are among the e-commerce platforms in the country.

These e-commerce websites have not only made a steady contribution to the national GDP in the last three years, but they have also created over a million direct and indirect jobs and reduced youth unemployment. So, the e-commerce sector is a significant contributor to Nigeria’s economic prosperity.

Surveys conducted by Statista in 2020 show that fashion and beauty, food and personal care, and consumer electronics were the most common items purchased online by Nigerians. This confirms that Nigerians have a very positive attitude towards online shopping.

Social media analytics, social media marketing, social customer relationship marketing are important business tools for communication, marketing and networking that help to boost website views and increase conversion or actual patronage by customers.

Social networking allows e-commerce companies to connect internal and external individuals who share similar business interests or activities. Social tools enable employees’ access information and resources they need to work together effectively and solve business problems.

Again, public social media platforms help an organisation stay close to their customers and make it easier to conduct research that they can use to improve business processes and operations, such as alternative modes for the delivery of items.

Despite logistic issues, government policies, multiple taxes, poor Infrastructure, and security issues, more Nigerians are, however, demonstrating a new fondness for online shopping.

Considering the increasing level of patronage by Nigerians, it is important for e-commerce businesses to focus attention on building brand awareness, effective customer service and social listening to enhance their online presence.

To sustain its contribution to the digital economy, e-commerce companies must channel efforts toward building trust to inspire the confidence of customers, provide more delivery options (logistics), adopt more payment solutions, and invest in marketing and technology.

Inyene Ibanga is Managing Editor and writes from Wuye District, Abuja