The Double-Edged Sword: Social Media's Impact on Nigerian Entertainment

With the newfound popularity of comedians like Layi Wasabi and Hauwa, Nollywood films and series like Gangs of Lagos, Anikulapo: Rise of the Spectre, King of Boys and A Tribe Called Judah, some of which are on the list of 10 Exciting Must-Watch Nollywood Series For 2024; it is no gainsay that the Nigerian entertainment industry is doing exceptionally well. 

All over Nigeria today, social media has become a platform through which people seek out news, entertainment, education and engagement. People are constantly using the available platforms to upskill, scale their business, enjoy themselves and even gain new knowledge. 

However, it is not an understatement that the impact of social media usage on young people, especially those who are in a developing stage of their lives, can be both good and bad, highly dependent on usage.

Why Social Media Platforms Remain a go-to for Nigerian Entertainers

There are so many reasons why Nigerians consciously use social media platforms in their search for entertaining content and in building up their careers or businesses. This is why:

1. Increased Visibility and Fan Engagement

Traditional media forms such as television, radio, and newspapers are ineffective in building a fan base. Many Nigerian celebrities actively use social media platforms like X (Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok. Some of these celebrities, like Shallipopi and Cuppy, even engage their fans using social media. They share updates relating to their careers in the entertainment space and even build communities for themselves. 

It is common to find fan clubs named uniquely, depicting both the celebrity's personality and brand. Some of these fan clubs are 30 Billion Gang, created by Davido, Plutomanians by Shallipopi, and Wizkid FC by Samuel Ogunkoya

It is popular to find that celebrities are members of their own fan clubs and engage their fans there. This is an essential way for celebrities to build support and love for their brand and content. It ultimately goes a long way, whenever conflict happens online as well, as fans vigorously stand up for their idols.

2. Promotional Tool and Talent Discovery

Another way social media is being leveraged in the entertainment industry is by using diverse platforms to promote content and discover hidden talents. On countless occasions, it is not difficult to scroll through any platform and not easily find a skit, film advert, or music video pop-up. 

It is evident that in this age and time, most people in Nigeria are social media users and, in fact, spend most of their screen time scrolling through social media platforms in search of entertainment and information. It is, therefore, logical to place adverts and post content that drive anticipation on social media platforms where more people are likely to see it.

Furthermore, many young people dream of becoming entertainers—musicians, comedians, actors, and actresses—and social media platforms are the best place to find budding talents who can change the entertainment industry for good. This is because these young people seek to promote their art, and one of the most accessible avenues remains social media platforms like TikTok.

3. Global Reach and Breaking Barriers

Beyond Nigeria, one catalyst that has continuously propelled Nigerian entertainers towards an international audience is social media. 

Disregarding geographical limitations that used to hinder Nigerian entertainers from meeting other entertainers and potential investors, social media bridges these gaps virtually by providing seamless communication and performance.

Some artists who have capitalized on the incredibly resourceful invention of social media include Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, and many others.

4. Monetization and Alternative Revenue Streams

Social media offers entertainers diverse opportunities for direct monetization. This could be through sponsored content or influence on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. 

It is not unheard of for big brands to pay millions in cash to entertainers for a single post in which their products are endorsed to the public. These are opportunities whereby Nollywood actors and other Nigerian entertainers are paid good money for their ability to influence the public and market products. 

How Social Media can Cause more Harm than Good

Despite the various opportunities that social media platforms generally afford Nigerian entertainers, some hitches remain that make some entertainers remain dormant and apathetic users. 

1. Online Trolling and Cyberbullying

No matter how good a thing is, it is bound to have negative effects during use, and this is a truth about social media. There is a lot of negativity in the world today, and it takes great care to filter out this negativity from our daily lives. However, it is still quite popular to encounter online trolls and cyberbullies. Online trolls and cyberbullies are people who hide behind digital screens to devalue other people consistently. 

This process is a deliberate one that is known to have immense effects on the mental health of targeted Nigerian entertainers. It is important for budding Nigerian entertainers to be aware of the possibilities of encountering online trolls and cyberbullies and guard against the impact of the negativity by focusing on improving their mental health status.

2. Pressure to Maintain Online Presence

Nigerian entertainers are seen as public figures who can influence society, so they are held to incredibly high standards that can be harmful. On social media platforms, things like celebrities' clothing choices are questioned and criticized. This creates a situation where artists constantly try to rebrand their public images in ways that the general populace finds acceptable.

In Nollywood and the Nigerian entertainment industry, artists are expected to maintain high engagement on all social media platforms consistently. This can sometimes be time-consuming, unproductive, and tiring. Whenever entertainers take breaks from being active on social media, different disturbing speculations begin to pop up about such entertainers. No doubt that these affect the creative process of Nigerian entertainers who cannot catch their breath at any time.

3. Focus on Online Clout over Artistic Merit

Oftentimes, social media users focus on popular, viral videos rather than appreciate the talents who put out their content but do not have as much reach and engagement. This leads to popular people getting opportunities, awards, and nominations they scarcely deserve.

Due to the nature of social media, it is easier for people to favour online clout over the merit of an artist and their talents. It is essential to achieve a balance between looking out for a person's online presence and their artistic development. This will ensure that talented persons are not relegated and dismissed in favor of viral content creators.

Copyright infringement is a recurring issue that has plagued Nollywood, the Nigerian music industry, and the Nigerian entertainment industry at large. Social media's impact in this area cannot be understated. Due to the increased usage of social media, it is difficult for creators and entertainers to keep track of the content that they put out there. 

Several times, people are called out for piracy and copyright infringement, which is one reason social media can cause negative experiences for Nigerian entertainers. Copyright infringement and piracy deny Nigerian entertainers the revenue they need to stay afloat, the profit from their products, and the recognition they deserve for their intellectual property.

The Future of Social Media and Nigerian Entertainment

Despite the negative aspects of social media usage in the Nigerian entertainment industry, there is immense hope for social media and the industry. Going forward, influencer marketing, which is a huge part of Nigerian pop culture, is expected to gain even more traction. 

Social media is already a means through which geographical limitations can be overlooked, in that, live events can be streamed using platforms like YouTube and Instagram. It is expected that developments that will propel the Nigerian music industry and entertainment in general will be created as Nigeria continually develops.

Amidst all these, it is increasingly important to emphasize the pertinence of ethical online behavior. Sanctions that will curtail and reduce the overall rates of online misdemeanors will ensure ethical online behavior in the country. As developments emerge, social media is expected to take the Nigerian entertainment industry to even greater heights.

This article establishes that although there are a good number of positive social media impacts, there are also negative aspects of social media usage that seriously affect the prosperity of the Nigerian entertainment industry. The good point is that all of these largely depend on one's use of these social media platforms. It is essential that social media is used consciously, strategically, and responsibly. 

What are some other benefits of a good relationship between social media usage and the Nigerian entertainment industry that you want to discuss? Mention some of your faves you got to know through social media in the comment section!