It is a fact that many Kenyans are in a love-hate relationship with Safaricom, myself included. My beef with Safaricom is on so many layers but I stay because of reasons I wrote in earlier post – Safaricom is the girl you marry. But it seems that the Safaricom marriage is on the rocks. The mistress has upped her game consequently forcing us to request for the divorce papers. Following the announcement that Zain had drastically slashed it prices, the Kenyan social media scene became abuzz with varied brand sentiments that both Safaricom and Zain would be stupid to ignore.
Ever since Zain started this coup, the puns have been relentless on Twitter and Facebook alike. “Suffericon is driving me inZain” is just one example. The Photoshop people have been ruthless in creating and remaking Safaricom or Michael Joseph images to reflect the emerging reality of a real competitor in Zain. I have been watching this unfold for a week now but one Facebook update today has just forced me to type up this up. Luka Wanjohi wrote the following on Facebook by way of Twitter.
It just cracked me up. The lesson here is that a majority of Kenyans on Twitter and Facebook have remarked and continue to do so about the Safaricom Zain price wars. Whatever it is they are saying is important even though some of it does not sound it. This is that age where every little thing gets broadcasted to everybody by everybody because social media has made all of us publishers. I called my girlfriend the other day and she asked me why I was calling using a Safaricom line. She ordered me to buy a Zain line to save money and I meekly said, Yes Dear. You can now imagine this being extrapolated and that is what social media does. If every Facebook and Twitter update or blog analysis I see is about how my friends have finally Vukad (shifted) to Zain, it is more than likely that I will as well shift Zain. This is how social media impacts your business’s bottom line. Welcome to consumer generated content.
I continue to stress more and more that social media is becoming the game-changer in how brands are perceived in Kenya. Social Media is shaping brand sentiment and companies that are slow in adopting social media and using it as a frontier to engage with their consumers is bound to lose out, big. With regard to social media, Safaricom has been the dominant player – becoming increasingly adept at using social media for customer care among other things. It has no close competitor here. I have not seen any comeback from them on the puns against them. But they could and mitigate the troubles that Zain is causing them through the various social media networks. Remember, this is a brand perception and sentiment challenge, where even though you cannot change what people write about you, you can mould it to mitigate the negative impact by how you well respond to it – with a sense of humour mostly.
On the part of Zain, they could do very well to ride this wave of positive sentiment about them in all these social networks. Having them in these social networks would allow people to address them directly like they do Safaricom and give Zain the platform to extend this positive sentiment a little bit longer. I can assure you now that if Zain got on Twitter, they would rival Safaricom’s followers and easily, what they tweet will hit record numbers of retweets. They can even start making sales via twitter to every negative tweet targeting Safaricom. There are countless ways in which Zain’s participation in social media especially now will work wonders for them. They can actively eat up Safaricom’s dominance by engaging the people who are already thinking about jumping ship as elaborated by their tweets. Zain’s work will be to nudge them on.
I have seen an army of Zain personnel flooding the streets and that’s all good. But given that they are all young people who definitely have Facebook and Twitter accounts, what stops them from taking their campaign to social networks. Granted, consumers have already fired the first shots by taking shots at Safaricom. Their work has already been made easier. Yesterday night, there was an announcement that Safaricom blinked. They decided to lower tariffs too but only for purchases of the 100/= credit. This has clearly proven to be counterproductive judging from the comments on Twitter and Facebook. People hate the idea that this is a one month offer and the 100 shilling condition. Again, Zain should really be capitalizing on this through social networks.
There is a lot that can be done. I am pretty excited about this J. If you know someone at Zain/Bharti management, please email this to them and tell them I can develop for them a killer social media strategy and implementation document that will see them become the darling of Kenyans especially in social networks. The opportunity is too great to miss.
The comment section is yours. Hit me!
There is already a YouTube Video with over 2400 views of a Zain promotional truck playing the bend-over song outside the Safaricom HQ.