Friday, 21 December 2012

Why Companies Should Handle Social Media Like Dating and Relationships

Five Social Media Tips You Can Learn From Dating

I know the title of this post arouses curiosity but am about to prove why you should handle and approach your community on social media like you do with a girl/boy in the dating scene. I happen to have spent the weekend home alone, phone off, no Twitter, no TV, no laptop- nothing; basically cut out off the world! Well I was having that “ME” time to reflect upon many things when my thoughts drifted to my social life…dating and such kind of things! The more I thought about it, the more my mind wandered to social media and how companies often try to build relationships. So I engaged my thoughts to come up with this post! So in this post I will explore similarities and lessons social media managers can pick up from the dating scene to guide them in managing brands on social media. This will be pretty simple so here’s how to go about it!

     1.      KNOW WHERE TO SEARCH.
This is actually the first thing you do when seeking the right person- so where do you search? Some go to church, others find bars to be good hunting grounds, and others go to events such as weddings, networking sessions, seminars, dating sites and such. For companies you need to know where your customers hang out, which platforms are they active on? Are you targeting the 18-24 market? Where are they? Are you looking for the 25-35 age group or the older ones? So at this stage you need to identify the social networking sites where to focus your social media marketing efforts. Remember social media isn’t all about Facebook and Twitter so take time to explore where you put your resources for the maximum ROI! After you do this, then as usual you need a strategy, with objectives and a plan. Then craft the message- what’s the tone? How will you put it across in an engaging way? At this you may also profile (do some research) your TA, identify their touch points and things they love or enjoy doing and at what times or seasons/days/ times of the day as you prepare for step 2 below!

     2.      TAKE THE MOVE!
After you have the place to do your search, you now take the bold move to approach the girl, so I assume you have already set up the social media channels, well branded and with profiles nicely filled up with information. As you do with dating, you dress properly (branding), take the girl to a nice restaurant, go to church with her and such! So here’s a few tips to help you with that crucial first date!
·         Be bold – Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, opinions and ideas with her. On social media don’t be neutral! Be a rebel or the hero. Neutral content/discussion doesn’t arouse engagement! Be very keen as you don’t want the girl to curse meeting you same thing, if your content isn’t great on social media, people will leave!
·         Post less –Sharing everything on your mind or what you come across will push her away so is the community you have on social media! You don’t keep calling her and texting all day so the same works with social media! If you're pushing serious content tweeting and posting in the morning may get you RT's. Sharing content when your community is not online will not earn you engagement.  Use Tweriod  to see when you tweet and when your friends/followers tweet. Then tweet during those times to increase engagement. You also need a content plan and a maintenance schedule for all your social media channels with a policy/guidelines as you don’t want admins to post anything!
·         Use the 1/9 tweet rule –Those who only share their own content are transparent and audiences online look at that as purely selfish and switch off quickly. Get in the habit of sharing 9 tweets not about you or your business for every post about you or your business. This way you don’t spam people; the same thing applies to dating- you don’t talk endlessly about yourself! Do less of push marketing, no “Me, me, me’ kind of content. A good ratio of sharing to promoting your own content on Facebook is 4:1 as a minimum (the more you share about other valuable content i.e. less marketing messages, the more you get in return). Be sure you only share content that adds value to your community – content which they’ll find useful. If it’s a mixed up case scenario share content that benefits people across the board.

     3.      So what next after the first date?
After you’ve went out for dinner with her, you don’t ask to take her to your house! Maybe you play the gentleman, drop her home, pick up a cab for her or at least escort her to her bus stop. Right? You then call to find out whether she got home well as you wish her good night and thank her for having dinner with her! Sindio wananume? Now back to social media, once you get people to like or follow you, you welcome them, thank them then immerse them with content about your business and what you offer. You aren’t asking for a sale, you want to first build the relationship, give value, good content, keep your promises- when people ask for information, you give it on time, when you promise to call them, do it! After the first date, maybe you schedule the next one, you want to see her often right? So with social media, you may ask your followers to also LIKE your Facebook page and vice versa, check or subscribe to your channel. You may also redirect them to your website or ask them to check your products in a branch/outlet/retail outlet near them. Remember you now want to ‘see’ and engage them more often and get your community interact with your business, experience your products and services more often. Remember you don’t push this on them!

     4.      Your Reputation- what do other people say about you?
At this level if you had done your search in the right place, done step two and three well, a girl will ask her or your friends about you. Check your Facebook profile, ask your colleagues and people who know you more about you! She simply wants to get an opinion from people who know you before she makes a decision whether there’s a future in what you have initiated. With social media, a customer will search more about your business online, ask around for recommendations, also ask friends about your product or service or maybe read product reviews online. So this is where you monitor your brand mentions, address inquiries, read reviews and up your reputation management! You don’t want your prospect to read a nasty blog about your poor customer service, negative customer experience and such kind of things. So how well do you track conversations on social media space? Does your business deliver on its promise? Do you keep your word? Is your product awesome as you say it is? Remember it’s no longer about who you say you are but what others say you are so you need a strong social media team to handle your public relations online. This is very important in the purchase decision process! Any issues here that raise a red flag will turn people away!

      5.      Take her to bed- Call for action!
Most probably after step four a girl will have made up her mind but you still have a chance to clean up your name! You know it guys, how we say we’ve changed, we’ve quit alcohol and we’re no longer players! With business, most likely your prospective buyer will have 2 or 3 options now; with recommendations to try out product B from company C. However you still have a chance to explain the benefits, value proposition and the uniqueness of your product/service.  Address the fears the prospect has and do it authentically and in a genuine manner. Don’t be a one night stander as you ask for a SALE, seek to build & nurture a relationship! Ask her….ask for it….take her to bed! After this you need to convert your customers to brand ambassadors, make the experience memorable, and make it a great moment. Delight your customer! Keep the promise! On social media you need to ask your community what you want them to do, do you need them to signup for your newsletter? Share video? Tell them, do you want them to add their friends to the page? Ask them so! However don’t be pushy, give them a reason to do so, one which is remarkable content that they can share, secondly could be incentives, could be your great customer service efforts! Ensure you give value to spark initiative and encourage action!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

So What Will You Be Celebrating This Xmas?

Its Xmas again dear readers, time to celebrate again! But what are you celebrating? The year could have been great for you, bad for others but since its Xmas you need to cheer up and reflect up on a few things and celebrate your achievements in 2012 big or small, thank God for his grace upon your life and just be happy! 

Here’s why I will be celebrating my Xmas differently this year; 

Am still breathing!
This had to be the first point, and if you are reading this then you need to thank God for the gift of life. It’s not usual, ordinary or normal that you are alive! People die every day, and these human beings are our brothers, parents, colleagues or people who mean a lot to somebody out there. Since you have made it to this day you need to thank your maker! So during these Xmas holidays I want to celebrate that gift of life; not by drinking myself silly, doing random things that we do over Christmas festivities but actually doing something reasonable!

I learnt a lot!
2012 has been a great year; I made mistakes, missed opportunities, had my fair share of success or sheer luck and all these experiences taught me something. I think every project, task, initiative or experience I touched, got involved in, read about or thought about taught me something. I may have made mistakes or decisions that hurt people close to me, made sacrifices that somehow didn’t amuse others and all that taught me something. And so during the Christmas holidays I want to celebrate that; the knowledge I acquired, the lessons and most important the fact that I promise myself never to repeat the same mistakes. My success also taught me what can work, when, where and how and that too will help me a lot in future! So that’s a BIG reason for me to celebrate.

I still have a chance to make things right!
The fact that I am breathing and having learnt from my experiences during the year helps me in planning for the future. For the good book of God tells me that God has good plans for me, plans to make me prosper. So for that reason, I am not supposed to despair, stay stuck in the past and spend too much time reflecting, but I think I should spend the present working on the future. Whatever it is I wanted to achieve but failed, maybe thought of doing but didn’t do it or could be things I screwed up during the year, I want to believe I still have a chance to make things right, and when I say that I don’t mean dragging my thoughts and energy into the past but doing something now to have the future I want. For that reason too, I will celebrate this Christmas in a big way! You may have made a few silly mistakes in business, personal life or in your career but you still have a chance to make things right in the coming year, so spend the holidays looking at what you did well, what you excelled at and feel good about it as you celebrate. As you draft your 2013 resolutions don’t forget to work on what didn’t go well or what’s still pending.

That’s it from my end.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Why Social Media is a Threat to Peaceful Elections in Kenya

I know you take me to be a very pessimistic person due to that heading, a doomsayer in that matter for trying to argue out why social media could take this country back to 2007 PEV. FYI I love this country very much and peace is one of the things I pray for daily for this nation. A as a patriot I also think about things that could rob me off the peace, security, and all the good things that come with a stable society. 

Well, social media is one of the most powerful things that Kenyans currently have, can be used for good and bad! According to Social Bakers, we have around 2M Facebook users comprising of 64% male and 36 % female users, another survey ranked Kenya as the second most tweeting nation in Africa coming second to SA. In the past we have seen KOT (Kenyans on Twitter) come together for various good reasons, when we had the matatu strike our love for one another and creativity led to #CarpoolKE. Earlier on when MP’s want to hike their severance pay Robert Alai came up with #KOTagainstMpbonus and again we joined the movement which led to an actual public demo and a march to parliament. (We won) When doctors went on strike, #PeremendeMovement came in handy to help them air out their grievances and highlight the sad state in the health sector. (They won). Earlier on we had #KenyansForKenya, #KOT4Conje among other great initiatives on social media meant for the good of the society. 

However this week we have been treated to drama and a sad unfolding turn of events on social media after Caroline Mutoko posted something that didn’t augur well with her fans. Pages have been created by social media users who want to play the HEROES trying to save the girl who posted on her wall. This whole saga shows how Kenyans can be intolerant of another person’s opinions, rules and thoughts. For crying out loud, it’s her page so she deserves the right to express how she wants it managed and why would she want to tackle issues about Safaricom yet they have a page and a strong social media team that handles inquiries 18 hours a day? Are Kenyan youths that idle as Caroline Mutoko put it? Yes we could since one of those pages against Mutoko has around 30,000 likes as I write this. Why would one want to join such a community? What content do you find useful and valuable on such a page? The admin/s of those must be feeling really nice having attracted such a big audience in a short time as they play the heroes! Such people definitely can put their skills and time into better use as companies are in dire need of human resource that can help them manage and monitor their brands on new media as well as engage their communities across social networking platforms. We all have different objectives on social media; we create and share a variety of content as we engage, respond to and interact with other social media users. I am not trying to lay out rules on what one should do on social media, however as we engage and interact on these platforms let us remember to be ethical and responsible as the content we create and share affects others in one way or another. 

As we approach the March 2013 social media will play a big role in the general elections, as it might be misused by politicians or people with selfish interests and agenda to incite Kenyans and spread propaganda. We’ve witnessed Twitter handles that called for killing of Christians in the riots in Mombasa and with anonymity that comes with social media, tracking such fellows may be difficult or take time to arrest, prosecute and punish but I believe this shouldn’t be the approach we should take with such content creators and social media users in the elections period. We have to be more proactive and avert possible disaster before it happens. 

I came up with three possible scenarios that could happen in 2013; forgive me of you find this very pessimistic,
Currently we are in the pre-elections phase, we are currently discussing alliances, coalition partners, presidential candidates, the implications of bad leadership and all that on social media. As at now people haven’t really taken stands and made them clear however we tweet on how we need good leaders, better roads, less corruptions as we urge one another to go register as voters. Good! Blogs aren’t that hard hitting however tribal posts on social media are on the rise as people seek to ‘push and sell’ their ideal candidates. Come January, we should have an opinion poll which will arouse serious heat on social media. Here pages come up “Stop Uhuru Kenyatta”, “1Million Kenyans against ICC suspects” “Hatutaki Vitendawili, STOP RAILA” are some of the pages I foresee! We’ll see radicals coming up and fake social media accounts will increase. As these pages Kenyans of good faith will form “1M Kenyans against STOP UHURU KENYATTA Page” et’;al and we shall discuss this for a while, ask people not to like such tribal pages and their numbers will increase due to the massive PR we give them, arouse more talkability around such communities resulting to more virality and thus inform more people who in turn end up joining these pages! Do you remember Campus Divas for rich men? How do you think such pages attract 15,000 likes in hours? Because we all talk about them as we urge others not to join! Brace yourself for that next year! Around end of February, we shall see more ‘tabloids’ that report plans to rig elections, see images of rallies and gatherings that turned violent and with the rise of social TV where we discuss all we consume on mainstream media social media at this point will be heated up. 

This is the day of election, what’s likely to happen here? We’ll all be somewhere, seeing how Kenyans are voting; right? We’ll witness cases of voter bribery first hand, take photos and SHARE on social media. If there’s any violence anywhere, photos will be shared and we’ll pick up on them Retweet them, Share, comment and basically pass them on. With the BVR kits we expect some people to come vote only to be told ‘they voted’, others may miss from the system among other things. Party agents, IEBC clerks and voters will be able to broadcast whatever is happening on the ground as it happens for others to pick up on it. The media too will be on the ground to fill us up on what’s happening elsewhere. God forbid we shouldn’t witness cases of violence in parts of the country as that will send fear country wide. If people of community A in region B see their tribesmen in region C being attacked by people of Community B then that could spark retaliatory attacks! The danger here is we shall be getting this information live as it happens through social media and pass it on to our communities (friends, followers) on social media instantly! Here we’ll also turn to SMS to communicate with our friends and assure them of our safety as we inform them of the latest on our end, calls too will be made and TV & radio will broadcast the rest. No much will happen here, however should there be some violence, missing names on IEBC list, bribery, some plans to rig elections and all that plans will be made here! 

Am thinking IEBC will be tallying votes electronically so we shall know how who is leading where as votes come in. However due to social media and ‘people on the ground’ that information will be broadcasted in real time as counting begins. Remember all these are preliminary results and not verified, however if there’s too much disparity from the expected outcome then Kenyans will turn to social media to vent out and analyse possible causes of that disparity! We shall also witness people saying tribe A betrayed alliance B and thus led to outcome C which may also cause issues that could destabilize the nation. I am sure you are asking how all this leads to war, the power of social media could lead to this, supported by SMS messages, calls, word of mouth and the media. In 2007 the smses fueled the PEV however next year this could be worse as we are talking about a medium that isn’t controlled, forces ill equipped to monitor and track conversations and most dangerous being the YOU and ME who will create, share or transmit unverified, false, content full of hate and propaganda on social media. That is how we can easily get back to 07/08! If 0.5M active Facebook users consume hate content, false and unverified data or information and then pass it on via sms and word of mouth to three people who do the same to another 3 then that could be dangerous! 


Monday, 10 December 2012

What Do You Need As A Kenyan?

Today I have decided to engage you on something that crossed my mind when I was watching the Wiper NDC. Well, leave that; I want us to talk about what ME and YOU want for this beloved country called Kenya. Reality is stubborn, every day we are faced with challenges, problems and difficulties and once in a while we ‘ask the government’ to do something! Sadly when we do it, at times the same “government asks the ‘government’ to do something”. Have you seen ministers on TV asking the government to do something? Your lawmaker told you that the government refused to do A or B yet he sits in parliament? Who else is supposed to propagate our issues? So we turn to social media and RANT all day! Trust me it helps get the pain out of the chest but it never solves the matters in most cases! My marketing background tells me companies should offer products that meet the customer’s needs, they are supposed to proactively think ahead and innovate to solve problems as well as anticipate those that may come in future and have viable business solutions that will tackle such issues at a profit to ensure sustained growth.
Back to politics, I guess it should be the same thing! What are these politicians offering us? What can we do without them? What and where do we need their assistance? Do they understand our problems? Can they foresee those coming our way in future? Climate change? Rapid growth in urban centres? Congestion? Water and sanitation problem? Education and illiteracy? Security and insecurity? Implementation of constitution? Reforms? Corruption? Food security? Economy & agriculture?
I think they do since they have talked about it in rallies but we don’t listen as we chant TNA, ODM and WIPER! (paid noise & political chants) What they never tell us is the HOW they’ll do it and how do we become part of it which is very critical. How do we get from point A to B, so they tell us the youth need jobs….yes we really need them, but how do we get them? Are the youth all educated and employable? Do they have the skills that the industry needs? One thing with jobs and employment is there will always be work for you if you are skilled so you need to search for them in the right places. So don’t ask your governor to get you a job! You went to school to be taught how to ‘fish’ so when you clear don’t ask for the fish-----GO FISHING! However on matters education, we still have very many uneducated kids and grownups in the country, kids without access to good and affordable education in this country so we need some help here. Kibaki came in with FPE but a few people took advantage of the funds to enrich themselves so what we need now is a system that reduces pilferage of these resources. Well IT systems cannot weed out corruption and that means we should ensure we elect ‘leaders of integrity’. Many times the auditor works with the accountant to conceal something, same thing with police and Anti-Corruption Officials….we also shield corrupt officials- worse still we are the people who BRIBE them. So how do we ensure this reduces? Let us not celebrate or encourage our friends and relatives who steal! I mean, these corrupt fellows are our dad’s, mothers, sons and uncles. Somehow we don’t care about what they do and where they get all the money from as long as they Mpesa you something on Friday for the weekend. So YOU and ME can do something about this! Rather than pay bribes to get a service done faster, insist on speedy service ‘at that office’. Don’t pay to retrieve your file! If it’s lost, come back tomorrow and ask for it-they’ll finally see it!

What about food security and agriculture? We live in a world where a few people know so much and the others are totally clueless.  How and why? We have hardworking researchers, government, private and non-governmental organizations as well as individuals who have access to information that is critical and very important but does it reach to farmers? NO! So we need a system that ensures this information or data gets to its intended users in formats and language that makes it easy to understand and consume. People or firms who have data that if transmitted to entities that need it would make a big difference in the society especially when it comes to agriculture!  

On food security, farmers in Africa sell when there’s surplus so we need a government that provides the infrastructure to transport this produce, to store the surplus and we need stronger cooperatives that put the farmer’s interests first! I have also taught my dad some marketing skills on how to package his produce, where to sell and share information I find useful on trends and such. 

The county government will ease up the congestion in the major cities, because resources will now be in the mashinani so am hoping to see a “Rudi Ocha” campaign and tap into the potential there! That’s somehow sorted so I hope.

Come to security, here the big shots in Kenya fuel insecurity, hire goons and equip them, give them booze and drugs to carry out attacks (to kill ourselves). But why do they keep coming back to the youth? They know we are desperate, frustrated, uneducated, unskilled or semiskilled and broke so we can do anything to make some money! That explains why Kibera has never improved….someone knows if he/she solves the problems once and for all he has nothing to come back and promise the people there! Now what if we decided to kick them out with our votes? You see all those “Like Mindedstupid but clever fellows who have been in power since the 80’s and have been promising us roads, bridges, slum upgrading, better education and agricultural inputs yet they have never delivered……take them out! Can we? I hope so but I also don’t think most you WILL. 

The biggest issue we have in Kenya is not that we don’t know what we want but we don’t believe our decision/contribution will change something! So we choose to just bury our heads and assume things will change! We believe as long as ‘our people’ are in power and heads in certain places then our issues are being addressed! See all those scandals that have hit Kenya; we are the ones that suffer…the kawaida taxpayer…the mwananchi! He or she will steal what is rightfully yours and so rob your son’s future (education, health, roads etc)
We don’t register as voters because we think one vote can shape the country! We also don’t want to talk about our issues and put our leaders to task instead we line up to see the mheshimiwa for some handouts, see him when we want to invite him to a Harambee or when we need some bursary for our kids! Anyway we always assume it’s all about one man for himself and GOD for us all! 

Anyway I don’t want to write much, I assume you pray to God and ask for something; your needs aren’t similar to mine so all I want is from our politicians or the next government is;
     1.       Good Security (Warlords and ICC suspects cannot promise me THIS!)
     2.      A Youth Kitty that is well managed to spur and inspire development of viable business ideas that our youth have. We could also have government run youth empowerment centres that handle trainings on entrepreneurship, business management and financial literacy.
    3.      Good infrastructure and a powerful judiciary- that’s how we fight impunity in Kenya.
4.      We are an agricultural economy, so I need someone with a clear plan here! I need a country that can feed itself and afford-ably
I am okay with these four things, and I will vote for the best candidates who can articulate these issues. So maybe you need to also come up with your needs/requirements and scan around. Be the interviewer….you are the hiring manager….so what skills, level of experience, talents and objectives do you want your leader to have? Forget about whether these people are your tribe’s men and your people….GEMA or LUO…..Can you consult? NO! Make your personal choice!
 Over to you……what do you want…forget about what Kenya needs…what DO YOU WANT and how can you make it happen? What will your contribution be? How do you become part of the change you want to see? How will you help? Take part…get involved….do something……DO SOMETHING…..fanya kitu!
Hence the headline “What Do You Need as a Kenyan?
And as you think about that remember to the KENYAN the country called KENYA needs!

With lots of love for Kenya.
Muthuri Kinyamu