HOW YOUNG ADULTS IN NIGERIA USE TWITTER AND FACEBO

HOW YOUNG ADULTS IN NIGERIA USE TWITTER AND FACEBOOK AS A MEANS OF GETTING INFORMATION? A CASE STUDY OF LAGOS STATE.

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TOPIC: HOW YOUNG ADULTS IN NIGERIA USE TWITTER AND FACEBOOK AS A MEANS OF GETTING INFORMATION? A CASE STUDY OF LAGOS STATE.

ABSTRACT

This paper represents a research proposal for a study on how young adults in Nigeria use Twitter and Facebook as a means of getting information. The proposal is organized into three chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which represents the thesis statement. Additionally, this chapter provides a background to the study and the why the study is necessary. Besides, the chapter identifies research question and objectives. In chapter two, the author provides a review and overview of the studies conducted on the topic as well as those conducted on the related issues. In this chapter the researcher highlights why the past studies were inadequate in answering the research problem under investigation. Lastly, chapter three describes how the research will be conducted. It analyses the research paradigm chosen and why it has been chosen. Consequently, the chapter details the process of data collection and analysis to be adopted for the study as well as the ethical issues that must be considered.

INTRODUCTION

Nigeria has the largest internet users among African countries and ranked only behind South Africa and Egypt in terms of internet penetration (socialmediaweek, 2014, p. 1). Most people in Nigeria use the internet to access information, news, connect with friends and for academic, professional and marketing research purposes. However, in the recent past, social media has become a vital tool of social and political mobilization across the world particularly in Nigeria (Best and Meng, 2015, p. 3). In Nigeria, Facebook and Twitter played a significant role in 2011 and 2015 elections. For instance, as a result of mobilization on the social networks, the last two elections show the highest turnout among the youths in Nigeria with the 2011 elections recording the biggest leap in the history of elections in the West Africa country (Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 77). Elsewhere, there is a significant use of the social media platforms especially in the main cities of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Ibadan where internet penetration is higher compared to the rural and other semi-urban areas. Recent surveys show that apart from connecting with friends through various chat options, Facebook and Twitter have become an important source of information among the youths in Nigeria especially those who reside in the cities (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 9). This research proposal will talk about how the researcher will conduct a research on how young adults in Nigeria use Facebook and Twitter as a means of getting information with a specific focus on Lagos.

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Recent studies show that Nigeria leads the rest of Africa in terms of the number of internet users, Facebook and active mobile subscriptions (socialmediaweek, 2014, p. 1). This highlights the important role played by social media in the life of Nigerians. Among these internet users, the youths (Nigerians between 18 and 30 years of age) forms the largest Internet consumer group in the West African nation. Furthermore, Nigerians mainly use the internet for connecting with friends (chatting), news, business, and public information queries (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 4). Facebook is ranked as the third most visited site in Nigeria after Google and Google Nigeria. Facebook is, therefore, one of the most important sources of information among Nigerians. In addition, Twitter is also ranked among the top ten most visited sites in Nigeria. This ranking is symbolic since Twitter is mainly used in Nigeria to access news and other information.

Social media’s transformative way of pushing content outward then inviting conversation is unique among the information outlets. In this sense, social media has the potential to invoke individual, industrial, societal and global changes due to this nature. In Nigeria, Lagos is ranked at the top in terms of the use of desktop computers, laptops, e-readers, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Smartphones due to the presence of high-speed internet connectivity and better standards of living compared to other parts of Nigeria (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 11). Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria with a population of 11 million according to 2014 data. The majority of this population is between 18 years to 30 years. This age group consists of mainly young professionals, college students and the young adults who have migrated from other parts of the world to seek job opportunities (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 11). Furthermore, Lagos is the commercial centre of Nigeria and hosts most of the manufacturing, services and financial companies in Nigeria. It is ranked the second largest city in Africa in terms of GDP and the most developed state in Nigeria (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 11). In Lagos, the youth uses the internet mainly for social media connections, text messaging, content sharing and online learning among others. As a result, online discussions have become valuable sources of innovation development and business ideas.

Facebook and Twitter use in Nigeria continues to define the actions and lifestyles of the Nigerian youths in several ways. Social media was used in the last two elections in Nigeria by the main candidates to attract the youths who were otherwise delineated from the Nigerian political landscape. As a result of social media activism, more youths registered as voters in 2011 that at any other previous elections (Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 77). In the campaign for voter registration, registered voters sent tweets of their newly acquired voters’ card as a way to encourage the non-registered voters to undertake the initiative to register. Therefore, passing information through Facebook and Twitter highlights the expanded functional scope of Facebook and Twitter among the Nigerian youths.

RESEARCH QUESTION AND OBJECTIVES

The main question that this study intends to answer is ‘how young people between the ages of 18 years and 30 years in Nigeria use Twitter and Facebook as a means of getting information? In answering this question the study will, therefore, realise the following objectives:

  1. To determine the uses of internet among the youth in Nigeria
  2. To assess how the mainstream media (newspapers, television channels and radios) uses Facebook and Twitter to pass information to the youth of Nigeria
  • To explore social and economic activities of the youth in Lagos
  1. To evaluate the need for Facebook and Twitter as a means of obtaining information among Lagos’ youth

 

 

RESEARCH JUSTIFICATION

Several studies have been done previously on the use of internet in Africa and most specifically in Nigeria. Most of these studies have focused on the internet penetration, opportunities that come as a result of internet connectivity and impact of the internet on social and economic behaviours of individuals and societies. Regarding the social media, most studies have focused on its influence on relationships, society and most recently on academic performance (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 5, Ayodele and Adaja, 2013, p. 6). Furthermore, According to Best and Meng (2015, p. 9), social media was found to have a significant impact on the political organisation of a society as was seen in the past two elections in Nigeria. However, few studies have been done on social media as a means of obtaining information among young adults in Nigeria. These previous studies were relatively inconclusive as they did not focus on other areas of information sharing apart from news. This paper, therefore, aims at bridging the existing knowledge gap in the study of social media (Facebook and Twitter) as a means of obtaining information among young adults in Nigeria. In order to realise this goal, the study will adopt a descriptive qualitative research method in data collection, analysis and inference (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007, p. 13).

 

 

 

 

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

INTRODUCTION

This chapter provides a detailed review of the past studies and gives a platform on which the current study will be performed. It also provides a link between the previous study and the problem under investigation.

REVIEW OF PAST STUDIES

Social networking sites offer modern ways of interactive communication where people connect with one another, share ideas, experiences, images, information and messages (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 7; Best and Meng, 2015, p. 3). According to Ogunlesi (2013, p. 44), studies showed that young people mostly undergraduates’ uses Facebook in meeting people and chatting. In this regard, the most common activities of this group on Facebook include wall posts, Facebook chats and picture uploading. For example, studies show that undergraduates access their Facebook accounts every two hours every day (Ayodele and Adaja, 2013, p. 3). Facebook Company data shows that there more than a billion active users of the Facebook worldwide while Forbes indicated that three million tweets are recorded every day among the 500 million users of Twitter (Best and Meng, 2015, p. 9). These studies show that Twitter and Facebook have become important tools of exchanging information across the world.

Nigeria is ranked 35th among countries that use Facebook with more than 5.3 million users (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 6). Social networking has therefore significantly impacted on information gathering and sharing. For example, even traditional publicity and public relations campaigns today targets Facebook and Twitter as a platform to pass their information (Best and Meng, 2015, p. 11, Ogunlesi, 2013, p. 55). Young adults in Nigeria, therefore, use these sites to about information on products such as shoes, clothes, and cars. Mobile phone technologies have made it easier for this target population to access these sites in a more convenient and affordable manner (Nwazor, Maduike and Chinwe, 2015, p. 9). Apart from mobile phone internet access, a good population of Nigerian young adults uses cyber cafes to access their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Research shows that young people in Nigeria also use these sites to access information on jobs, news and new technologies (Ayodele and Adaja, 2013, p. 3).

The emergence of Twitter and Facebook in Nigeria has changed the practice of the media since information access has become easier, faster and quicker (Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 73). Just like other parts of the world, the majority of social media users in Nigeria are young adults between 18 and 33 years. This group has become more involved in the political organisation in Nigeria due to ease of accessing and sharing political information and slogans through Facebook and Twitter (Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 74). For example, former President Goodluck Jonathan had embraced Facebook in declaring his interest in Presidency in 2011 as a way of attracting the 70% of the young Nigerian adults who were on Facebook (Best and Meng, 2015, p. 15, Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 79). Following in the footsteps of Goodluck Jonathan, other politicians and political parties have used Twitter and Facebook with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success.

Social media is also used by young Nigerians as news library. Facebook and Twitter are used by Nigerians as the tool of choice in regard to information related to politics, business, sports and entertainment among others (Africa Practice, 2014, p. 8). The young adults, especially in cities such as Lagos, use social media to review major headlines of the major newspapers and access breaking news from various media houses. Main newspapers in Nigeria such as the punch, the nation, and the vanguard have official Facebook and Twitter pages on which they post the main daily headlines as well as breaking news (Olorunisola and Douai, 2013, Wilson, Gosling and Graham, 2012, p. 209). Facebook and Twitter are also used by media houses in Nigeria to update their followers on the upcoming news features, investigative stories, health and environmental features among others (Eke, Odoh and Omekwu, 2014, 11). Furthermore, young Nigerians access international news stories related to mainly politics and sports by liking the official pages of international news outlets such as BBC, CNN, Sky sports, super sports, AIT etc. or the twitter pages of the said news outlets (Ogedebe, Emmanuel and Musa, 2012, p. 795). Liking these pages ensures that they can easily access information on their Facebook or Twitter walls upon logging in.

Initially, Facebook was used by the young people in Nigeria as a past time tool. However, Alabi (2013, p. 4) outlined that Facebook has become a major component of the lifestyle of young people today. Among the university students, Facebook was found to play a significant role in their academic lifestyles as well. Information on changes in lesson schedules, assignments deadlines and discussion times can be passed through Facebook among students (Alabi, 2013, p. 12, Ogedebe, Emmanuel and Musa, 2012, p. 799). In this regard, Facebook has allowed university students to plan their academic life better by getting the information on time. As a result, Facebook has contributed significantly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the academic programmes in the University (Eke, Odoh and Omekwu, 2014, p. 16). Elsewhere, Ayodele and Adaja (2013, p. 6) noted that students used Facebook and Twitter to conduct academic research more conveniently and in a cost efficient way. Today, students can conduct data gathering on certain types of studies just by reviewing various Facebook posts or by interviewing participants through Facebook chat options.

Outside the formal learning environments, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can also support informal learning and knowledge development among peers or community groups (Ayodele and Adaja, 2013, p. 11). Social media is used as a facilitating tool in peer to peer learning of knowledge and skills collaboration and diverse cultural expressions. One of the successful learning skills that have been managed effectively through peer to peer learning is the online marketing skills (Eke, Odoh and Omekwu, 2014, p. 19). Furthermore, online marketing has become more successful among the young adults due to social networking. Additionally, online learning is aided by social networks since links to blogs and sites that complement education activities and outcomes can be shared via Facebook and Twitter.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE

The literature review above shows that information access through social media has been a growing trend among the young adults across the world. It highlights that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become an integral component of the young people lifestyles in Nigeria. In Nigeria, most of the social media users were found to use it as a tool to connect with friends. However, there is a growing trend for social media use as a tool that aids information access among the youth. Most of the information accessed using social media included news, political information, product information and academic information. Nonetheless, there was a growing trend within academics and marketing to use social networks as academic and marketing research tools.

RELEVANCE OF THE LITERATURE TO THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY

The objective of this study is to employ mixed research tool of sequential triangulation in exploring the research problem of ‘how young adults in Nigeria use Twitter and Facebook as a means of getting information’. In order to solve this research problem, the researcher aims at determining the uses of internet among the youths in Nigeria, how the mainstream media such as newspapers and televisions uses social media to pass information, social and economic activities of young adults in Nigeria and how this group uses Facebook and Twitter to access information. Linking the literature review to the research objectives, the author finds significant linkage of the past studies to the current studies. The past studies attempted to explain the role of the social media among young adults; however, they deviate from the main research objective of information accesses and ‘young adults in Lagos’. These findings were rather general and could not be used exclusively to conclude on the trends among the young adults in Lagos. On the other hand, most of the past studies applied descriptive qualitative approaches in their studies. This study will attempt to develop a different perspective in learning by adopting a mixed research approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

This chapter describes the nature of the research and how the research will be conducted to ensure that the results found are accurate, reliable and answers the research question. This chapter also justifies how the ethical issues in research will be adhered to. This section will, therefore, be divided into research paradigm, research design, population and sampling procedure, data collection and analysis techniques and research ethics.

RESEARCH PARADIGM

This study will adopt an anti-positivism paradigm. Anti-positivism paradigm describes the behavioral aspects of the population which cannot be attached to certain numerical quantities (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007, p. 22). In this regard, qualitative methods of study are used in answering a research question (Patton and Patton, 2002, p. 17). According to Creswell and Plano Clark (2007, p. 29), qualitative research approach is used to interpret non-numerical data such as words. The research about how Facebook and Twitter are used as a tool of information gathering is, therefore qualitative study. The qualitative data collected will be reduced in a manner that only related ones are descriptively analyzed to ensure comprehension.

RESEARCH DESIGN

            This study will adopt both naturalistic perspective and interpretive understanding of human experience in relation to Facebook use. This is because the nature of information assessed within these platforms exhibits social, political, cultural and economic features (Cameron, 2009, p. 142). Studies that involve internet research and content analysis can, therefore, be conducted by a new research technique called sequential triangulation (Cameron, 2009, p. 142). Cameron (2009, p. 147) had highlighted that this technique is used where one research approach informs the other one. The researcher will conduct a review of the Facebook and twitter use among young adults in Lagos, Nigeria. In this review, the researcher determines popular Facebook and Twitter pages frequently visited by this user group. In the next stage, the researcher analyses the content of these pages in order to develop an in-depth understanding on why the pages are visited by this user group (Cameron, 2009, p. 148).

The study will be conducted within a period of 14 weeks in two phases. In the first phase, the researcher will conduct a direct interview of young Facebook and Twitter users in Lagos, Nigeria. In the interview, the participants will be asked to identify some of the Facebook and Twitter pages they follow. In the second phase, the researcher will conduct a content analysis of the identified pages. The content analysis will involve review of posts and tweets then the tweets and Facebook posts will be categorized based on the type of information i.e. entertainment, politics, economics, social, technology and religious among others (Ndinojuo et al., 2015, p. 78).

POPULATION AND SAMPLE

In order to determine the population to be used in this study, the researcher must also determine the information needed and the scope of the study. Therefore, the population can be defined as those elements, items or individuals that can potentially participate in the study (Clark, 2005, p. 18). In this study, the population refers to the young adults (people between the ages of 18 years and 30 years) who use Facebook or Twitter or both to access information in Lagos. This study defines young adults as men and women who are between 18 and 30 years of age. However, the sufficient condition for participation in this study is that these young adults must have a Facebook or Twitter account. Therefore, the researcher selects 20 young adults from Lagos to participate in the research interviews.

 

UNITS OF ANALYSIS AND CONTENT CATEGORIES

This study involves two phases of data collection. The next phase of data collection is through identification of the units of contents and various contents on the Facebook and Twitter pages. Here various information categories are identified in the form of a table. Categorization of various content units is the most important step in carrying out content analysis effectively (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007, p. 66). In this study, contents groups will be categorized as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Content analysis framework

Content Categories Units of Analysis
Provision of information

 

 

News

 

Press Releases

Policy Statements

Interactivity

 

Chats

 

Interactive Chat

 

Q and A Sessions

Response to enquiries

Multimedia

 

 

Pictures

 

Audio Content

Video Content

Targeted Audience

 

 

Youths between 18 and 30 years of age in Lagos

Data collection

This study uses both primary and secondary data. Primary data can be defined as the type of data directly collected from the field expressly for the purpose of the study (Clark, 2005, p. 7). On the other hand, secondary data can be defined as data collected mainly for administrative reasons in the research (Clark, 2005, p. 7). They mostly collected from secondary sources such as books, journals, and reports. In this paper, primary data was collected directly from the young adults in Lagos using an interview method. Additionally, another set of primary data was collected from Facebook posts and tweets. These data were collected and recorded on a coding sheet to assist in analysis.

METHODS OF DATA ANALYSIS

The process of data analysis will be conducted in three stages including data reduction, data display, drawing and verification of conclusions (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007, p. 87). Data reduction involves condensation of the primary data so that they are transformed into a more usable form. Furthermore, the data is summarized such that emphasis is laid on more important parts of the data that relate to the study objectives. Data display refers to the process of organizing and assembling reduced data into a visual form such as tables and figures such that interpretation of data is easier (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007, p. 88). After the two steps are effectively completed, conclusions and verification of those conclusions is thus drawn.

 

RESEARCH ETHICS

Ethics in research refers to conducting the research activities in a way in which the integrity and validity of the research is emphasized. A study like this must, therefore, adhere to ethical principles such as informed consent, confidentiality, anonymity and voluntary participation (Patton and Patton, 2002, p. 92). The researcher must elaborately explain the purpose, the rules, and consequences of the study to the interviewees before questions are asked. The participants will be encouraged to participate in the study upon agreement with the rules, purpose and consequences and no one will be coerced by the researcher to participate. Furthermore, the researcher will ensure that the information collected is not shared with a third party while personal information of the participants will not be collected for the purpose of this study.

CONCLUSION TO METHODOLOGY

This chapter described the process of conducting the study. The researcher identified an anti-positivism paradigm where data was collected from participants in Lagos. The study was carried out in two phases including data collected directly from the young adults in Lagos and content analysis of the Facebook and Twitter posts. Lastly, the researcher will analyze the data collected in three stages of data reduction, data display and conclusions and verification of results.

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