Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Five Common But Terrible Social Media Mistakes To Avoid In 2013.

Over Christmas and New Year holidays I spotted some terrible social media mistakes that I would like to share with you. Could have been holiday mood has really set in and the feeling plus the need to be a bit random, lazy, laid back was with us and the endless partying. I just hope whatever you did you enjoyed the holidays. When it came to what we are sharing on social media that too has been affected by this festive mood. When it comes to social media, you need to be consistent throughout the year; if you are a business then you need to stick to your maintenance schedule as per the content plan you have in place and if you don’t have one please create it. Here are five social media mistakes you could have committed over the Xmas period to the New Year holidays that you should avoid in 2013. Do enjoy!
    1.   Doing it casually-Be careful with frequency!
Just because it’s Xmas/holiday/weekend doesn’t mean you should joke around, share stuff that is almost useless or if you are a business you post ‘irrelevant’ content that isn’t related to your business, industry or brand touch points. Don’t over-post …but don’t under-post either.  For facebook I would recommend a maximum of four posts and 10-15 tweets a day! You don’t want your posts to be so frequent that they become irrelevant to your audience.  If you have to post several times in a day just like I do please vary your content. Don’t use too much slang or your mother tongue as you may end up losing the hard earned followers you had acquired! Managing social media corporate accounts can be overwhelming as it is a 24/7/365 days job! It’s not something an organization should take a break from, you need to be consistent so please ensure you have your social media team well set for this period.
    2.   Being Absent and Inaccessible!
Your friends want to be heard so is your community if you are a business. And the only way you can prove you are human on social media is by listening and responding. Make it part of your strategy this holiday to address inquiries, complaints and compliments ASAP if not in real time. A simple click on the LIKE or RT or FAV button shows at least there’s someone on the other end!  As you do these please ensure you don’t post tweets or updates full of errors to ensure you portray the right impression out there; so please take your time to proof read. There’s also a certain tendency to ignore certain inquiries, could be overlooked erroneously or otherwise. This sends a signal out there that the brand is unfriendly, busy to handle my inquiry or uncaring! If you use your social media channels for customer service please don’t take a break this year during weekends, holidays and those ‘bad days’, this also includes players in the tourism sector such as hotels, lodges, airlines and tour companies as people will be seeking information, help and making inquiries so please be present and accessible- read and respond! As you do this, please give timelines and work hard to deliver on your promise! The response you give to complaints in the public domain may set a precedent so kindly ensure that you don’t create a loophole that people may take advantage of as you seek to delight people this year!
    3.    Being a Billboard!
Social media can be extremely beneficial to you and your business; whist sharing your own content online (marketing) ensure you do not over promote yourself, your business or that offer or promo you are running as a brand. Those who only share their own content are transparent and audiences online look at that as purely selfish and switch off quickly so don’t talk about yourself and what you are doing all the time! Social media is about the people, please avoid the “Me Me Me” kind of posts and give your community something more beneficial & entertaining! If you are running a promo consider including give aways, coupons or gift hampers to spark initiative and make the campaign less of spam or annoying.
  • A good ratio of sharing to promoting your own content 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).
Take time to listen, share entertaining content (people want to be happy/ we are celebrating).  Be sure you only share content that adds value to your community – content which they’ll find useful. This means that you should understand the demographics of your friends or fans. If it’s a mixed up case scenario share content that benefits people across the board. Providing different types of content has been proven to engage audiences more effectively. Create and share creative, local and cool content that stands out, something that people can share and feel deeply appreciated by your business or brand!
    4.    Keep private things private.
Facebook and Twitter is very much in the public domain (yet it’s often perceived as private at the same time), there are numerous examples of how private (often extremely personal) information has ended up in the public domain. If you say the wrong things, it could damage your professional reputation.  Don’t post too much information on your private life (its okay to let people know you travelled but not post everything you ate from breakfast to dinner, photos of your extended family and the dirt in your private life). It’s just an update; don’t share info on your recent breakups (If you’ve got problems FACE them do not FACEBOOK them!), social places you frequent regularly for security reasons, don’t post vital information on people’s walls too. That includes photos of you in the beach with bikinis and girlfriends or your family (Keep that to yourself too). This is so basic and will help you a lot this new year.
     5.   Posting ‘Drunk Tweets’!
Never post or tweet when you're overly-tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset. This is so important yet most people will ignore it. Please avoid tweeting too much when you are drunk so that you don’t wake up to ‘stupid’ tweets that will leave people worried and asking whether your account was hacked into! When people are drunk they also tend to say where they are, with who and doing what which tends to divulge too much of private information. If you are out of town, such info could aid a burglary in your house (That includes checking into 4Sq every time) and if the person managing your business accounts starts tweeting over a beer then that could mess you up seriously! Just ensure you have people working on shifts to help with official corporate channels and if possible ensure you give that job to the right person/s just in case the workload is huge!
Have a prosperous 2013! 

Muthuri Kinyamu is a Social Media Strategist at Social Edge Africa the company behind @SocialPROclubs and you can follow him on Twitter @KenyanMarketer 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

In the eyes of Eric Schmidt -A Week of Africa

After reading Eric Schmidt A Week of Africa on his G+ all I can say is this guy came in expecting to see a dark continent but left surprised! Here's what the Google Executive chairman experienced in Africa.

Eric Schmidt -A Week of Africa
After a week of business meetings in the cities of sub-saharan africa, we can surely say three things are new for the continent:

a) the despotic leadership in Africa from the 1970s and 1980 is in decline, replaced by younger and more democratic leaders
b) a huge youth demographic boom is underway, with a majority of the population of 25, or even under 20
c) mobile phones are everywhere, and the Internet in Africa will be primarily a mobile one

Many of the older problems are still severe, including a lack of electric power, the general trend of rural to urban migration, and pervasive corruption.  Every country we visited had an internal security problem, or a significant border problem, and the elites are sheltered from this pervasive concern behind guarded walls, hotels and restaurants with gates and security checks, and ubiquitous guards.  I try to imagine what the US would be if we had the types of security problems in Africa.. how would WE deal with such threats?

Connectivity is much more important for security than many analysts think.  Societies who are not connected lack opposing viewpoints and are much more subject to easy radicalization.  The virtue of having more connectivity is that people will have more choices, and more choices lead a better understanding of the value to go to school, the need to treat women equally, the choice to not demonize others, etc.

Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader.  A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate seem to attract a significant share of foreign investment.  Incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa (their mobile money solution on simple phones using SMS) with payment systems for local stores.  If they manage to get through the upcoming March elections without significant conflict, they will grow quickly.

Rwanda is a jewel with a terrible past.  High economic growth and the development of a significant middle class is threatened by the withdrawal of aid due to UN complaints over the Congo.  Rwanda feels like Singapore, an island inside of Africa whose small size allows great focus and a dynamic, stable government.    A visit to the Genocide Museum in Kigali, and a trip to the Volcanic National Park where eight groups of eight can trek to see the gorillas made famous by Diana Fossey, are well worth it.  Gorilla treks are also available through Uganda and the Congo, over the same mountains.

After fifty years of war, South Sudan is the worlds newest country.  In a country where every issue is an urgent one, mobile networks can unify a poor country with isolated villages, significant flooding in the rainy season, and the constant threat of attacks from rebels from the north.  A courageous group, the Satellite Sentinel project. uses satellite data and other sources to document ethnic cleansing in remote areas of Sudan (the northern Sudan) and serve as a record of the terrible ongoing violence against innocents.

Chad is a poor petro-state, with a long history of conflict and one pipeline and one fiber link.  Africa has submarine fiber cables on the west and eastern side.  Landlocked countries are at the mercy of their neighbors, and all have learned that competition with multiple fiber connections from differing borders dramatically reduces costs.  Chad like some others, has determined that future spectrum should not be auctioned as that only increases the eventual mobile costs and are simply allocating it to a set of competitive carriers.  Less than 1% of Chad has electricity.

Nigeria, known as a land of oil corruption and the ubiquitous 419 email scams, is the biggest surprise to a first time visitor.  Nigerians are entrepreneurial, stylish, educated, and have the belief that their country can emerge as the next Brazil.  With 170 million citizens, and a record breaking eleven years of civilian elected government, the compound growth and the shared memory of real internal conflict almost guarantees their short term success.  Future growth of Nigeria should help with its international image problem, as the real story of its success gets out.

The emergent model of the African internet is a set of competitive fiber suppliers to the capital, a set of fiber rings owned by local telco's, and 3G and 4G networks.  Some of the countries are late with licensing plans for 3G and 4G, a costly delay for countries that have very little residential broadband.  Solar charging can help with the power needs of handsets, but the electricity needs to be more reliable or costly backup systems will be built at each tower.  Many of these countries have telecommunications as a major contributor to their GPD (Cote d'Ivory is about 12%) and even Somalia, which we did not visit this time, has a profitable competitive telecommunications industry.. the most profitable legal industry in that country.  Some countries are reluctant to turn on the data portion of their telecommunications industry, another costly delay to their future digital commerce, education and entertainment industries.

Many Africans will be last, unfortunately, to be connected to the rest of us.  For them, the best short term outcome will be feature phones (inexpensive voice and SMS phones) and a private network of microSD cards that can be traded behind oppressive authorities to get information in and out of trapped, occupied and remote locations.  Information is power, and more information means more choices.  Documenting abuses, getting pressure from outside to fix real problems, and solving illiteracy are just a few functions of even the most limited of feature phones.

The demographic dividend in Africa of young people is their greatest hope, in my opinion.  Today high rates of unemployment show an economy underperforming to its true potential.  This new generation expects more, and will use mobile computing to get it.  Optimism is appropriate for Africa, as the people we met will do much more with less than we can imagine, and the devices and systems built in the first world will be used in the most creative ways in the emerging new world of Africa.