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Social Media in Kenya: Reality Check!

Social Media in Kenya: Reality Check!

The rush to use social networks in Kenya today is appearing more like a bandwagon effect and not a solid business strategy. From my interactions with well placed people in the various industries, I have come to see that some of the companies that are now on the various social networks have either not sanctioned the use of social networks meaning that it is the work of “rogue” employees or have assigned the responsibility of monitoring the social network to interns as a side project. Some of these companies with social networks are victims of brand-jacking meaning that these accounts are not official company accounts but which are used as such to the detriment of these brands. However, there are some businesses whereby it is the owner who initiates their social media participation and those do pretty well for instance Brew Bistro’s Facebook Fanpage.

The Big Boys Diss Social Media

The big boys in Kenyan businesses have for the large part dissed social media citing control, time wastage, and liability issues. But this is a mistake and a big one at that. The approach toward using social media should not be any less important than the marketing plan or growth strategy of any business because in the coming months, social media will define the growth strategies of many of these companies. As things stand, a majority of organizations in Kenya save for a few still consider social networks a waste of time. Of the few that don’t, quite a number look at social media as a pet project reserved for interns to do at their own time. So the struggle is not just for social media to be adopted but also to be treated seriously once adopted.

Big Companies with Social Media Execs

Looking at how the Directors and Executives of big business in Kenya look down on social media, I wonder whether they know of other top executives who consider it as a worthy business investment. I wonder whether they understand that bigger global brands not only utilize social media but have gone to the extent of creating managerial positions for Social Media. Ford, General Motors, Zappos, Nokia, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, Southwest Airlines, Dell, Intel Corporation, IBM Corporation, Cisco Systems, SAP, HP, Sony Electronics, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Wal-mart Stores, Best Buy, Kodak, Microsoft, Google, Forrester Research, American Express, Progressive Insurance, PepsiCo, Salesforce, Sears Holdings, BBC, CNN, Hitachi Data Systems, and Ottawa University are just a few of the companies with a huge social media presence and social media execs handling their strategies and implementation.

Get with the Program

These companies are not engaging in social media and paying their social media execs sick amounts of money because it is a hobby. Social Media is serious business and Kenyan companies will need to treat it with the seriousness it deserves lest they get left behind. I am seeing more and more companies in Kenya getting onto social networks in the coming months but what I hope to see is these companies getting in not with a “me too” mentality but rather with a purpose of meeting various set objectives each with its own measurement metrics as part of the bigger company strategy. I don’t have to write another “benefits of social media” post because they are too many and too diverse. Just Google it!

Social Media Fears Allayed

For the big Kenyan businesses that are currently shying away from social media because of its rumoured dangers, let me allay their fears by saying that bigger companies with more to lose are doing it. And this is not an arrogant in-your-face statement, it is a fact. There are genuine fears that companies have but most have come to pass. Without even looking hard enough, you will find a company in the same industry as you out there that is participating in social media despite of these fears and succeeding immensely. By examining how these companies are operating especially towards mitigating potential loopholes, Kenyan businesses can borrow from their best practices and delve into social media. Like any successful person or organization out there, fear has never been an obstacle for progress.

Structured Engagement

As you plan to initiate the entrance of your company into social media, have a reason for doing so. Otherwise, you will end up with followers and nothing worthwhile to offer them. So have an agenda and use social media to push for those ends.

Your say…

  • “followers and nothing worthwhile to offer them” – This is very true. With the exception of KQ most Kenyan companies that have taken the plunge (twitter) are not adding value to my timeline.

    Take @SafaricomLTD for instance, even the Twitter handle itself is too long, @Safcom would have been better, then they claim to have a 72 hour response time. 72 hours? on Twitter?

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Mwirigi, great to see you here.

    Exactly. I am pushing for companies to use social media for customer service and a 72 hour response time on real-time platform like twitter is just stupid, period. Twitter is about the immediacy of it all and attaching these off-line policies to social media one more thing these companies would have learned not to do if they seriously thought about social media for business ends.

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  • True I agree with what @Mwirigi is saying most of the companies on twitter are there coz of the fad, something like oh 'we have a twitter account..'. It doesnt add any value, if you comapre it with what Dell and the rest are doing its a shame.
    I remember saying this at the 140conf, companies will rue not having taken advantage of social media or doing it just for its sake.

  • Bulungu

    Hey, i have been using facebook to build traffic to guys business places and websites, its been two months since i started my own company and i have met a lot of people out there, its crazy, once you say facebook, they turn they back, yet i have used this website in my trade where i was hired with a modeling and casting firm and they did booming business at that time, soon i decided to be doing this alone as a company, my former employer didnt encourage the use of facebook, i quit and now two months since i started ny own company of online social media marketing i am having two clients, and its working for me and them
    i also ask my fellow youth to venture here but they seem skeptical.
    i am living and making monies off this new trend and whats best? i just need a cyber if i am not at home or ny internet enabled phone to work,
    i wish people would embrace new trends but we always see internet as a scam, what can we do? i thank to read your blog, please encourage guys to try this new thing

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  • Good observations. I like ‘structured engagement’ recommendation – thats how we shall see success stories on Social Media Use among corporates

  • Avoiding social media is a risk that Kenyan businesses need to think about. Kenya is now ranked with the highest web page visitors in Africa, and with a good reason. If the Rudisha votes are anything to go by, then the Business Gurus will need to go back to their strategy boards and think how they can harness this group of users for their advantage. They can only be ignored at the businesses risk! There is a very huge potential out there in the social media!

    • Marvin Tumbo

      Indeed. That’s the reason I have started running social media workshops – to introduce Kenyan business people to the potential of social media. A lot of their action or inaction stems from lack of knowledge on what social media can do for their businesses.