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:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.