LAGOS: Social media sites are among the most visited across Africa but in Nigeria mobile chat platforms and microblogs are proving the most attractive to consumers, according to a report.

The Social Media Landscape in Nigeria, from communications consultancy AfricaPractice, said that internet penetration in that country stood at about 30%, with over 50m internet users; of these 72% visited social media sites.

Google in its global and national forms were the websites most visited by Nigerians, but after that came Facebook (3rd), YouTube (5th), Blogger (6th), LinkedIn (8th) and Twitter (9th). Other rankings in the top ten were taken by Yahoo! (4th) Nairaland (7th) and Wikipedia (10th).

While the number of Facebook users had steadily increased over the past few years and stood at 6.5m in 2013, the report said it was losing active users to other platforms, especially mobile chat.

Within Nigeria the leading mobile chat apps included Eskimi, with forums devoted to jobs and music and over 10m users, 2go, which connects with friends and new people and has just under 10m users, and WhatsApp, the mobile messaging site with around 5m users. Blackberry Messenger, another mobile chat platform is estimated to have over 2m users.

One reason for the growing use of mobile chat platforms is the basic one off cost. These apps perform well on lower bandwidths and use less data, making it more affordable, the report said. In addition, mobile chat was cheaper than SMS.

Social media in Nigeria served four core purposes, the report suggested, including accountability, civic engagement, branding and information source.

Brands were "realizing the significance of being a part of these networks and connecting with their customer base in non-traditional ways". As in other countries, they were encouraging customers to engage with them on these platforms, while also providing services through those platforms.

Data sourced from How We Made It In Africa, AfricaPractice; additional content by Warc staff