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Safaricom and Social Media: Mismatch in Numbers!

Safaricom and Social Media: Mismatch in Numbers!

For those of you who have been around social media for a while now, you must know the story behind the 5 million plus fans on the Coca Cola Facebook fanpage. For those not familiar with the story, here is a brief of it as quoted from Mashable:

The page was originally created by two fans who just loved Coke. Coca-Cola found the page, and rather than trying to buy it or create another “official” page, they rewarded the two fans and worked with them to continue building the page and representing the brand. By empowering their existing fans, rather than trying to marginalize, shove aside, or steam roll them, Coca-Cola has been able to build on the connections that were already established with fans on Facebook before they even arrived in an official capacity.

It is also important to mention that according to the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, section 12 which deals with Special Provisions applicable to Pages, the second rules expressly states that:

You may only administer a Facebook Page if you are an authorized representative of the subject of the Page.

Having noted that, given that the fans who created these pages had no association to Coca Cola, they were in breach of the above law. However, since the fanpage already had in excess of 3 million fans, Coca Cola played its cards well and reached out to these two fans thereby making them brand evangelists and known associates of Coca Cola. According to Marketing that Works,

Michael Donnelly, Coca-Cola director of worldwide interactive marketing, sent an email to Sorg and Jedrzejewski explaining that Coca-Cola wanted to participate and get involved in the project. Coca-Cola wanted to support and enhance the page without the company intruding on fans.

Safaricom’s Social Media Presence

Just today morning as I was doing a routine skim of my Facebook Homepage, I came across an update that a friend had joined a Safaricom Group and Fanpage, he himself an employee at Safaricom. Finally, Safaricom on Social Media, even if it is just Facebook, I thought, and then clicked on the link. That was where this post started.

Safaricom Facebook FanPage

The Safaricom Facebook Fanpage is something to behold. For a network with over 12 million subscribers, many of whom also use it for mobile internet access, a mere 75 fans is a number that will hit you hard. Safaricom itself has way more than 75 employees. The fan page has one discussion currently taking place and it honestly feels like a desert just looking at it. I am not sure who created this Fanpage and for some reason I doubt it is Safaricom. Maybe an employee over there without the knowledge of management. And as it is, it not doing it any good.

According to an article on Mashable, the new pages present opportunities for businesses such as Safaricom and these are quoted below:

1. Stronger Interaction with Fans
Because the Wall tab will become the focus, Pages will feel much more active and dynamic than ever before. This will encourage more participation and interaction between brands and their Fans.

2. Increased Virality
Content posted on the new Wall will also show up in Fans’ News Feeds more often. This means that posting updates to your Page is much more viral and has the potential to drive significant traffic to your Page.

3. More Ways to Communicate
The Status Update will provide a powerful way for Pages to share short interesting blurbs with Fans in a way that is less obtrusive than an Update delivered to their inboxes. Brands that use Twitter can sync their accounts so that selected Tweets will automatically post to Facebook as Status Updates.

4. Specific Landing Page for Non-Fans
The Wall tab will be the point of entry for all Fans when they visit a Page (with the idea that they’ll first be exposed to the newest content). When it comes to non-fans, Page admins will be able to choose which tab they’d like to use as the landing page. This means that if a Page has a new application or custom content that they’d like to promote, they can set this as the point of entry for all new visitors to the Page.

I would advise Safaricom to seek out the creator this group if its not a creation of Safaricom and start working it for it is difficult to reconcile 12 million subscribers and climbing with a constant 75. Most of what Safaricom is spending millions advertising on TV, Radio and Billboards can be easily channeled through its fanpage among other social media channels.

The Safaricom Facebook Group

Yes, there is also a Safaricom Facebook group, this one created by a kid whose name I cannot type from Oshwal High School. This group has 272 members, a more active wall but with one discussion from last June. This guy is definitely a Safaricom Brand evangelist given his description of the group:

Safaricom da most used & preffered network in Kenya. If Safaricom wasnt here we’d B on some other network that would B rippin us Off!!!…

So where is Safaricom in all these? I am tempted to believe that they consider the subscriber numbers they have are enough in terms of reach in that they can always reach all of them through those SMSs that we all receive from them once in a while. It is like having a 12 million strong mailing list, only now its numbers.

Social Media for Safaricom

Though Safaricom reaches us with those at times very untimely SMSs, there are many more avenues where social media trumps it hands down among them.

  1. Viral Marketing: Social Media can make one post, equivalent to one SMS that Safaricom sends translate to 12 million views. People share, embed, forward, discuss etc. in social media but not with SMSs.
  2. Engagement: When you get that SMS, you may have a pressing question to ask but you cannot reply to the SMS, can you? The only option you may have is to call the customer care but we all know how that sucks. In social media, engagement is what all these platforms allow and even if answers may not come from Safaricom, they will come from other community users who have gone through the same.

But even if Safaricom is not just ready yet to engage via social media, it might be  good idea to ensure that they take up user names in all these social networks because when they decide to come in, they may well find that all the user names for Safaricom are taken and they will have to pay for these names or stick with awkward names that distort the brand.

KnowEm is a company that will help Safaricom and you by helping you claim your brand names on over 350 Social Media networks.  The website’s meta reads:

Protect your brand or username from Social Media Identity Theft. Is your name still available at over 350 popular Social Networking websites?

Safaricom, are you listening?

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  • I am a Safaricom subscriber but i believe' i was wrongly locked' in. How do you request i become a fan of a company i feel is short changing me.

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Hi Paulo

    I have many friends who feel the same, married because of necessity to a woman (read Safaricom) they abhor. I have a feeling that Safaricom know that people even though subscribers do not like them very much. Maybe the measly 75 fans it has represents just how much. Hopefully, it is a wake-up call.

    Kind Regards

  • snetts

    You are right Marvin. A lot of users stick to Safaricom not because they love to but because they have to. In giving credit where it is due; Safaricom has had a number of innovative mobile communication strategiews including the infamous MPESA which now is even in UK. Here there is now way you can blame Safaricom for sticking with them. I would urge the other network provider to step up their marketing strategies, come up with technologically innovative solutions that appeal to the average mwananchi and give Safaricom the long deserved run for their money. Zain should focus on their market and quit rebranding all the time. As far as I can remember they were the pioneers of mobile communication in Kenya when 3G was just a western technology word.

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Hi Snetts

    I actually wrote about the very scenario you have presented where I said that Safaricom is the brand you marry while the others you just have fun with – http://www.socialightmediakenya.com/brands-you-

    The reason I wrote this is many of these networks are not even close substitutes to Safaricom especially when it comes to the value additions.

    Thanks for stopping by, Kind Regards.

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