Tech & Science

Nigerian Celebrity Blogger Launches Facebook-Style Social Network

Nigerian students smartphones
Nigerian students use their smartphones to play the Pokemon Go app, Lagos, July 14. A popular Nigerian celebrity blogger is launching a new social network. STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty

Since starting her blog in 2006, Linda Ikeji has become one of Nigeria’s most prominent online voices.

The 36-year-old former model website, known simply as Linda Ikeji’s Blog, is the 13th most popular in Nigeria, according to analytic company Alexa—ahead of any official news publications or sites.

Ikeji has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter—half a million more than Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari—and almost 800,000 on Instagram. Her name was the most Googled term in Nigeria, a country of 180 million people, in 2014.

The blogger has now launched her own social network—known as Linda Ikeji Social (LIS)—which she is marketing as “Facebook meets Linda Ikeji Blog meets eBay.”

Ikeji had announced in August that she intended to expand her media empire into four more platforms—an online television station, an online radio station, a music website and LIS, which she declined to identify until it was launched on Tuesday.

Linda Ikeji Social screenshot Linda Ikeji Social is marketed by the blogger as a combination of Facebook, eBay and her blog. Linda Ikeji Social/ Screenshot

The platform has a similar functionality to Facebook, allowing users to post stories and chat with friends. The twist, according to Ikeji, is that the platform has been monetized for users. The platform will pay users 1,000 naira ($) for exclusive “stories,” which Ikeji said could consist of eyewitness photos or video. Ikeji said that the site would also place advertisements on pages belonging to users with more than 50,000 followers, with the users then earning 20 percent of the revenue.

Ikeji said that the idea for the site came after an encounter with two fans in April, who told her that Facebook and her site were the only websites on the internet that they used. “I wondered, and then the idea came to me: why can’t I have a website that’s a combination of both blogging and social networking? The answer to that burning question is LIS.”

Nigeria has the biggest Facebook user base in sub-Saharan Africa, with the social network saying in February that 16 million Nigerians used the platform each month, with 100 percent of users accessing the site via mobile.

Ikeji shares a variety of content across her platforms. Her Instagram functions as a style and fashion guide for followers, while her blog shares Nigerian news and recirculates international stories.

Google took down Ikeji’s blog—which runs on the Google-owned Blogger platform—for a brief period in October 2014 amid allegations of plagiarism and intellectual property theft, which Ikeji denied.

She has also been involved in public spats with other Nigerian celebrities, including rapper Wizkid—who collaborated with Drake on the hit song “One Dance”—who allegedly threatened to have Ikeji beaten up after she wrote a derogatory post about him.

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