#Naija – We are the new Trendsetters (literally)!

by Ifreke Inyang

In November 2010, MI Abaga’s sophomore album release received a rare level of acclaim. Yes, we readily assert that he is a genuinely gifted rapper and performer – so are Mode 9, Ruggedman, Freestyle and other wordsmiths – but there were other factors that worked in his favour. As soon as his second offering dropped, the buzz intensified on social media networks, especially Twitter. The dimunitive Jos indigene ended up trending at number 7 globally with the hashtag #MI2. In doing so, MI achieved a feat that probably no other Nigerian has with that album.

It is perhaps instructive to note that before then, Nigerians and Nigerian related topics trending on Twitter were as rare as lunar eclipses. But from that point, the frequency with which we started trending has almost been incredible. New heights were reached with the election frenzy. After the PDP primaries, Nigeria trended globally thanks to Nigerians tweeting eagerly about President Goodluck Jonathan beating Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in his own home state. GEJ beat Atiku by 76 votes to 31. During the chain of presidential debates, Ibrahim Shekarau, who was regarded as an underdog, proved to be intelligent, competent and in touch with the world around him. As the debate went on, he gained wide followship on Twitter and trended globally. We established ourselves as a force when #NigeriaDecides trended worldwide during the elections.

Twitter’s Trending Topics algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ news stories from across the world. It is indeed trending topics which capture the hottest emerging trends and topics of discussion on Twitter are the most interesting. Twitter has 190 million users from all over the world. By my guess it takes at least 10-15% of these users tweeting about the same topic at the same time for that topic to trend globally. That is at least 19 million users. What started as just something to tweet about Nigeria, the #WelcomeToNigeria TT slowly blew up, and Non-Nigerians were tweeting things they knew about Nigeria. Granted it wasn’t all good stuff, but the fact that the topic trended globally showed all us the power Nigerians have in social networking sites, especially Twitter.

The consistency with which we trend globally is baffling. Take for instance this week. Between Monday and today, topics like ‘HiTV’, ‘AIT’, ‘gboom’, ‘#BecauseOfTayoAlayo’, ‘Unilag’  have trended worldwide. For instance, HiTV trended on Tuesday because of delays in transmitting much anticipated Barcelona – Real Madrid game. Tweeters who had already tuned in began to express their frustrations and impatience. ‘Gboom’ is often used to mock those who make grammatical errors. And Unilag is unarguably the most popular Nigerian University on Twitter. Experts cannot readily point out the reason why this is more regular these days but I dare say, Nigerians are one of the most driven people on earth. When we set our minds to get things done, we never stop till it’s achieved. The election reporting said it all. In the coming days, I expect more and more Nigerians and Nigerian related topics to trend globally because there is simply nothing like the power of Naija!

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