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Twitter for Kenyan Businesses

Twitter for Kenyan Businesses

I am in the process of compiling a list of Kenyans businesses currently on Twitter. But prior to publishing that post, I thought it prudent to write a post on how Kenyan businesses can use Twitter in their businesses.

Twitter as you may well know by now is a real-time micro-blogging social networking platform that allows you 140 characters to do with what you wish. Initially thought of as a waste of time by many skeptics, myself included, it has emerged and staked its place an invaluable tool for businesses.

For the over a year that I have been a twitter user especially the recent months when I really got into it, the following are some of the ways businesses and people in general are using twitter to meet their respective ends:

1. Listening

It has been said countless times, just because you are not using social media does not mean people are not talking about you. Take KPLC, “my favourite company” for instance. On Twitter Search, just type in KPLC and this is what you should expect to find. Listening to mentions of your name on grants you the respond to issues as they arise and mitigate those with the potential of blowing up. Listening is always the first step. Based on what comes up, respond accordingly.

2. Communication

“News no longer breaks, it tweets” is the new reality. People are increasingly looking to their twitter feeds to get abreast on news. For instance, just now, I am reading tweets from @Wanjiku who is tweeting from Highway Africa Awards on who the winners are in the various categories. As a business, if you have something to communicate, Twitter should become central to your communication strategies. And communication is not just one way. If there is something that you will have to learn is that the more you engage, the better you will be received. We have questions to ask and answering them is part of this engagement. This is not push media.

3. Feedback

When you are in the process if doing something and you want honest feedback, just do a quick search on twitter. In Kenya, the twitter community here is always abuzz when it comes to News, Local Programs, Tech Conferences, World cup and our Analysts, Politics etc. and you will always find people’s reactions to these as they happen.

Last Sunday, I hated the weeks XYZ show episode for various reasons and wrote a tweet about it. I was not alone. Almost immediately came a tweet from @xyzshow asking me “what didn’t you like?” And I told them. I was pissed at the content but impressed that they were listening and taking notes on what people thought. And that is just it; you may be doing something that we don’t like believing that we do. A quick search will grant you honest feedback which you can then use to adjust what you are doing to your followers’ tastes.

4. Events

Twitter is big when it comes to events. Every Tech Event in Kenya has a #Hashtag assigned to it to aggregate all the content coming out of it for those not able to make it there. It allows people to be there without being there physically including their active participation from remote locations.

That aside, a big question with regard to twitter has been “how do we take it off twitter?” Most business people want to know how to convert their followers from tweeps into customers in their shops. First you have to be on twitter, then you must have followers with whom you engage with actively and only then can you get them to your doorstep.

I like what @Wamathai did with his Spokenword event this past week. He is a very active twitter user. As a Kenyan on Twitter, you cannot miss him in many of the meetups or on your twitter feed. So when he announced on Twitter that he was hosting a Spokenword event at the Secrets Lounge, from the tweets last week, people were actually split between attending his event or going for the Social Media Day meetup at iHub. That is how much loyalty he has from twitter followers. Suffice to say, it was a full house according to @savvykenya in her blog here.

5. Customer Care

Listening is never enough. Customer care is no longer about people calling you but you finding them wherever they are talking about you and responding to them where they are be it on a blog, on Facebook and of course on Twitter. Twitter is a real-time social network and customer care definitely lends itself to it. When you listen, response is always the difference that makes the difference. You can make Twitter part of your customer care itinerary and have people monitoring and responding to tweets directed at you or mentioning your company. Soon enough, you will begin seeing more traction via twitter and less from your call centre since the former is cheaper, faster, and progressively the preferred choice.

Take this incredible recount by Dave Fleet on how to win your customers Loyalty – A Tale of Service. It shows an incredible use of Twitter by a Hotel which has made it the epitome of customer care via social media. Start looking at ways you can use Twitter for customer care. For instance, given the way #KPLC is mentioned on Twitter almost every hour, albeit negatively, what if they turned this around by asking people who get these black outs to tweet their locations/streets so that they can get on it – and announce the time frame. I will rest easy once I have the information about what the issue is and that their people are on the ground sorting it out.

@Mwirigi on a comment in my Social Media Reality Check Post mentioned the case where @SafaricomLtd (the official Safaricom Twitter account) which even on a real-time service like twitter has the audacity to have a Three Day Response Time policy, surely. Would you keep me on hold for three days? I have been kept on hold for thirty minutes and more (I actually wrote a post about pathetic customer care while I was on hold). With twitter, if you quote for me some rigid three day response time mantra, you miss the point of being in the network by a mile.

6. Define campaigns/causes better

I had an interesting chat/interview with @Tullyme this Saturday and one of the things we talked about was how NGO’s can utilize social media better. There are many campaigns and causes that are being run by one NGO or another every other day. @Jke wrote that ‘the best pitches are those that can be made in 140 characters or less.” That is a powerful statement because it gets you to consolidate your whole campaign into a sentence which makes for simple language, easier dissemination and wider reach. So instead of the 1 page press release, can you condense it into 140 characters which will allows those whose eyes you catch to spread it in ways you cannot fathom?

Beyond what Ushahidi is doing, I have been thinking about how Kenyan organizations could utilize twitter in disaster as has been the case in many international disasters. The American Red Cross Society and British Red Cross Society both have twitter accounts which they use to give disaster preparedness updates. The same could be done here for instance to warn people on the disaster prone areas, to get info on disasters from people on the ground. They can assign #Hashtags for every disaster as they arise in the country so as to create a real-time resource centre. Using a platform such as Swift River which filters content such that only reliable informative tweets are clustered together, better quality of information will come through and a better response mechanism can be effected.

7. Research and Releasing Research

Twitter is an incredible tool for researching. If you are a company seeking feedback on a product or some other research question, posing the question on twitter will give you incredible answers. I recently was doing research on Kenyan Businesses with Facebook Fanpages the replies, Retweets, and Direct Messages giving me answers was pretty awesome. Some asked me to also research on Kenyan businesses on twitter which I have been doing since. The point being, twitter is a great research tool and just Google the question to see how many businesses have use twitter successfully for their research.

Beyond the actual research, one thing I can tell you for sure that those of us on Twitter love research data. Whenever a research has been released in Kenya, the stats within it will start showing up in our feeds as people take the research report apart and share the most interesting bits of it with their followers. Questions then emerge like where do I find a copy the research? Who did the research? The stats are retweeted over and over and word spreads further than you would have thought. In all honesty, I don’t think there is a better way to release a research report than when it is tied to the various social media platforms especially twitter.

I will be releasing the list of Kenyan companies on Twitter soon. If you have anything to add to the above, please hit me up in the comment section below. If you know of a Kenyan company on Twitter, I will appreciate a link in the comment section too.


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  • Yep! I didn't miss it!

  • Jwaciira

    I've been looking for a Social Media Policy for my .org, any guidelines? Though I must say, this article will help a great deal.

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Joliea, great seeing you here. I was out of town and could not attend. I just read updates on Twitter and the blogs that covered the event.

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Hi Waciira,

    If you need social media policies for your organization, this should help – http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php . This is an online resource centre for social media policies of different organizations from Red Cross to BBC.

  • Like Jwaciira says, the article is really good!

  • Marvin Tumbo


  • I think that Kenyan businesses would gain a lot if they used twitter and social media in general more. I started my blog not very long ago and one of the main reasons people know about it, is because i used social media and in particular twitter to popularize it and word of mouth did the rest.

    Twitter is a perfect tool for companies to use to build their brands and also to get feedback from their customers/clients and it's time companies who aren't already using it start to.

    Thank you for the mention..

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Yes they would and just as a fad as many tend to. That is the reason I want to showcase the companies and people doing it right in Kenya. I was watching closely what you were doing and I was impressed with the social media activities both leading up to the event, during, and after.

    I hope too see what you are doing develop into a Kenyan version of Def Poetry. I won't miss the next one.

  • Mo

    Good article. Engaging and informative. I know you focussed on businesses (I read 'private sector'), but I was mildly impressed today to see that Kenya Ministry of Lands is now on Twitter (http://twitter.com/MinistryOfLands) . Mildly, because it remains to be seen whether they will use twitter as an effective and sustainable engagement platform.

  • Just wanted to swing by and say thanks for the link. The Roger Smith Hotel certainly did demonstrate a great grasp of social media, and has continued to impress since then.

    I enjoyed the post too; one point to remember here is that businesses still need to remember to step back from the tools and figure out what they want to do first before deciding how to do it. Not every company should be using Twitter for customer service, for example – it depends on a great many things, including (for example) staffing resources, internal culture, customer segmentation and so on.



  • Marvin Tumbo

    Hi Mo,

    Thanks. I had no idea the lands ministry had a twitter account. I will follow them and see how they are utilizing it. It may be a first for Government Institutions in Kenya.

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Thanks Dave.

    First it is really a big deal for me seeing you here. I love what you do and have been a subscriber of your blog for quite a while now.

    You are right of course. The customer care channel to use is contingent on quite a number of factors and only by determining what needs to be done can a company settle on which tools can do that best for them.

    Great seeing you here.

  • A spoken word TV show modeled on Def Poetry is in the works and hopefully production will start before the end of the year.

    Thanks again.

  • Sasa marvo…great article…but honestly speaking i think we should also be aware that the kenyan populace is still behind in technology…most of the Kenyan chief executives are above 50;who are very resistance to change…i am for social media…but the fact is that it will take a long time for it to actualize in our country…lets have forums to reach out these wazees first..so that they implement change to their organizations..One of my client has actually banned social networks in his company since it promotes..”idleness”.The journey is tough,but lets strategize first to reap the benefits in the future.Baraka Bro

  • Marvin Tumbo

    Thanks Eric.

    I am getting some traction on my end. As long as you have viable case studies and and a good pitch, business people will buy into it. I will be launching something soon with regard to “reaching these wazees”. But then again, social media is tough work. And we are getting there.

  • I second you on this..internet can be used successfully for businesses especially social media sites.More insight here http://goo.gl/Bpt6P