The global sweep of the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it. Social distancing has become the new normal, and now more than ever, people are relying heavily on social media to stay connected.
With the general ban on large public gatherings in March 2020, people had to find new ways to keep themselves entertained and escape the tedium of observing the lockdown.
Staying home during the lockdown meant that people had a lot more free time on their hands than they usually did. How did Nigeria’s digital natives use social media during the COVID-19 lockdown? What kind of content did they engage with online?
To get some answers, we conducted a survey of 200 young Nigerians and studied the activities of social media across our platforms – Netng, 234Star, Neusroom, and Orin.
Unsurprisingly, Nigeria’s digital natives were spending time on social media. A good majority of our respondents spent more than three hours on social media during the COVID-19 lockdown. Only 12.9% spent less than three hours online every day. 35% spent more than three hours on social media, 32% spent five-ten hours online, while 19.9% spent more than ten hours surfing through social media.
Correspondingly, internet data fees went up for people, and 60% of respondents confirmed that they spent more than 5000 Naira on internet subscription fees during the COVID-19 lockdown.
On their most-used mobile app since the lockdown, 46% of the respondents confirmed that they had been spending more time on Whatsapp. Another 26% responded that they used the Twitter app more, while 17% chose Instagram as their go-to app during the lockdown.
With the emotional strain of observing the lockdown, people had begun to opt for more video calls in a bid to connect with loved ones and enjoy a sense of normalcy through the changes brought on by self-isolation and quarantine. Video calls were presumably used for work meetings as well since most companies had to enforce remote working policies for staff during the lockdown.
A large majority of our respondents (75%) had engaged in more video calls during the lockdown than they usually did. More than 45% of respondents used the Whatsapp video call feature, while Zoom came in at a close second with 34% use. Other video call applications used were Microsoft Teams (8.6%) and Google Meet (3%).
Respondents reported that they continued to have issues with electricity during the lockdown, as 23% reported that they used their power generators for two-three hours every day. Another 26% say they had to keep their generators running for three-five hours daily, while 22% had to keep their generators powered on for as long as five-ten hours a day.
We also asked our respondents about the movie platforms they had used the most during the lockdown. 44% of the respondents replied that they had been watching movies on Netflix, while a combined 61% responded that they had been watching either DStv or GOtv. Only a very small segment of respondents had been watching movies on YouTube.
From our analysis, we realised that our audience engaged with certain categories of content better than others, and engaged with certain kinds of content less than expected. We found that during the COVID-19 lockdown, our audience members wanted to stay informed, and as such, engaged with information around news, COVID-19 stats, etc. The COVID-19 lockdown was a trying time for Nigerians, so people also tried to balance out their media consumption by also engaging with entertainment-based content around topics of interest like their favourite celebrities, BBNaija, music, movies, etc.
Take a look at the full report here.