Why Nairaland Remains Nigeria’s Number One

I have been observing the Nigerian Startup scene for a long while and I’ve seen it all. Various Startups with various propositions: local search, directories, social networking, online shopping, pidgin dictionary etc. We’ve seen startups with varying ambitions all come and go.

But one startup has remained “evergreen”: Nairaland. Launched in 2005, loathed by Techies, wooed by investors and loved by its approximately 1million users, Nairaland is one of the most popular web destinations in Nigeria.

While many people feel Seun Osewa, the Lord behind the site should have pivoted Nairaland into a full social networking site; he stuck to his guns and held on. He focused instead on scaling up his site to cater to so many people and keeping the content relevant.

I recently took a long look at Nairaland and identified some principles that I belief is responsible for Nairaland’s massive growth and how the rest of us can put these ideas to use in our next projects.

Ease of Use

Nairaland is dead simple to use and its learning curve is near zero. While many web 2.0 startups thrive on how cool their tech is and how many patent they’ve got, Nairaland simply chose the simple approach route. On login you find a list of categories and latest discussions, allowing you to dive into the action in seconds.

What is the use of technical wizardry that mere mortals cannot understand? If your product is indeed for the mass market (more than half of which are not tech savvy) then you are supposed to be running mass market successful tech. You should not go about with 2MB JavaScript that will not load on slow cyber cafes and present a broken experience to your users. As a Startup founder myself, my hobby is watching real users interact with my products, a very rewarding hobby I must add.

Something for Everyone

Nairaland has something for everyone – politics, romance, jobs, football etc. Many startups simply do not realise who wants what they are offering and hence they keep barking at the wrong tree. If your offering is niche specific, go for your niche. But the bigger the niche, the bigger opportunities you have for growth. Nairaland may just be nearing 1 million users, but its capacity for even more growth is tremendous if they can get their long term strategy right.

An Active Community

Nairaland has an active community, the engagement levels on Nairaland is something some of us still dream about. This tells us that social is not a product, it is about the people. You build a forum 2.0 or even 4.0, yet you remain largely ignored because most times, the technology doesn’t even matter. What the average user wants to know is what exactly do I stand to gain from your service?

If more Nigerian Tech Entrepreneurs can take these simple ideas: Ease of use, something for everyone, building an active community and put them in mind before building anything, we will have more Internet behemoths that are truly Nigerian.

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