By Timi Olubiyi, Ph.D.
Youth unemployment is one of today’s big global issues. No doubt, Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and with the largest economy on the continent, however, with prevalent youth unemployment. At present, Nigeria’s population is estimated to be over 200 million, ranking seventh in the world, with young people forming a larger part of its citizenry. The youth unemployment rate in Nigeria has reached an alarming record, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The youths are acknowledged as the bedrock on which a society is anchored, and they should be a formidable advantage to the economy if well harnessed. At present, hundreds of millions of young people are unable to find meaningful work that will enable them to support themselves and their families. More so, graduates from university have many difficulties in getting established after school. They are rarely independent, and the ones without formal education who should be engaged in vocational training are not getting it as well. Deficient school curricula are also a growing concern and a big issue in the country because it ought to address skill learning and capacity building. Therefore, Nigerian youths need to be equipped for self-employment, job creation and independence.
Entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool to help fight youth unemployment. Youth entrepreneurship offers innovative solutions for economic growth among young people. Entrepreneurship will bring about self-employment, which is one of the significant ways out of this unemployment issue. Therefore, this article looks at one of the strengths youths can leverage on productively, which is social media. Most of the educated Nigerian youths are sociable, energetic and are very internet savvy, therefore for the ready and willing once there is hope in capacity development and entrepreneurship after their formal education. Once skill acquisition and adequate empowerment have been achieved through entrepreneurial development, it can be promoted on social media. Thus, a business idea can be developed, along with the technical skills acquired online. Believe me, the internet and communication technology (ICT) sector offers huge opportunities for young Nigerians to be future entrepreneurs and small business owners: Social media, the opportunity to connect in a very personal and meaningful way to customers and promotion business and services. Social media is growing and now becoming the business hub. Social media will inevitably continue to shape all aspects of business opportunities across industries. Today 2.45 billion monthly active users are on Facebook as of the third quarter of 2019, and more than 100 million people use Instagram every month. LinkedIn has 500 million total LinkedIn users. Twitter has over 330 million monthly active users, when you add up this to the number of people using YouTube, Nairaland, Instagram, Bet9ja, Pinterest, and other social media platforms, it is easy to conclude that this social media holds ample opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs with growing users. Nigerian Youths can take advantage of social media, which is a fast, inexpensive, and effective way to promote a business and reach out to customers. With the financial constraints of setting up a shop or office and huge advertising cost to draw customers, a prospective entrepreneur might not start-up or scale-up. But with creating a presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to get direct sales from customers, the cost is low. The youths can leverage on this and on their social media networks they already have, as well as get insights from social media to improve their business ideas and market positioning. Social media is super powerful and successful right now because of the adoption rate of technology in the world. According to the co-founder of Alpha Brand Media, and a social media consultant Brent Csutoras he asserts that “Any social media site can be effective for marketing if you take the time to understand what type of content performs well, who the audience is, and get creative about how you can provide your content or product in a way they would appreciate it and accept it. However, understanding the social media audience is important and rewarding. Effective use of social media can bring great opportunities for your business but will require some thought and planning. More youth have smartphones and computers at home but are not open to social media business prospects. Social media can equally come with some challenges, even for currently established entrepreneurs, because there are so many social media tools and platforms it can be hard to know where to begin. However, with adequate training on social media usage an entrepreneur should be able to answer: what do you hope to achieve by using social media? how much time can you devote to social media? what are the most effective platforms to use? what are you trying to achieve for your business?. While social media gives you the chance to build brand awareness and customer loyalty, you need to have a clear idea of how to handle negative feedback about your business. You need to ensure that what you post and how you interact with people present a professional image to the world. Therefore, with adequate knowledge and capacity building, a business niche can be created and nurtured. It is now easier than ever for willing prospective entrepreneurs to promote new products or services, build brand awareness, personally interact with existing and potential customers, directly target customers with marketing campaigns. Social media provides an easy way for potential customers to express interest in your business and your products. However, the first point of call is to acquire a skill that could generate steady income and make you independent. Social media can be an effective way to build and promote the skills and tour business reputation once the marketing campaign is right. Be sure your service/business with getting the big impact it deserves on the internet once you can deliver. Your social media plan and strategy should contain a smart mix of engaging family and friends who can recommend your business or services to others. People can talk and positively think about your business, with good posts and service reviews. Social media can provide a platform for customers to talk with each other and talk about their experiences with you and your services. This is called social selling, which can help a great deal on the internet; once you are consistent with staying engaged with your audiences and let them see that you are there for them when they need your service and products goes a long way in achieving results.
Therefore learn how to identify, develop unique skills and develop the business that comes afterward on social media effectively. You can explore some of the current business opportunities that have changed the social media landscape with adequate online research. Good luck!
Dr. Olubiyi, an entrepreneurship and small business management expert, is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI). He twits @drtimiolubiyi and can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org