Monday, 16 December 2013

Social Media in Kenya and why you don’t have to do social in 2014

If you are reading this probably you’re on MKZ—by default Facebook allows you to add good looking people you may know so you’ve probably hit the 5K limit     well done. Depending on the friends you have your newsfeed could be full of baby photos or some scary stuff    or the good. I assume you’ve also been to YouTube in 2013, seen videos buffer due to your slow connection and your education, life and professional credentials are well laid out on LinkedIn. Maybe you’ve heard about Pinterest but you still don’t get the pin –what- you’re- interested in on boards-- you create thing. Being the social ninja you are am sure you’ve clicked on a link that redirected you to something called SlideShare, Tumblr, this blog, wordpress, Flickr, Vimeo and Google always wants you to +1 pals to your circles on an island called Google + among other places you’ve ended up on the internet.

You’ve been to a few events      mingled, seen bigwigs live tweet using #tags—conference brag     post the nice food you ate     the vintage clothes they wore     upload selfies with the beautiful, good looking & at times famous people on Instagram. And by the way if you check into some place often you can become a mayor on something called Foursquare    it’s very popular with people who visit, pass by or think about nice places. I don’t use it      I love the indoors.

And there’s Whatsapp. My friends say it’s addictive, very popular with boys because girls are on it        its top of my New Year wish list J

And it’s not going to get any better in 2014 because we’ve become slaves to our gadgets. We walk down the streets heads down, wired     earphones on    humming, staring into glowing screens while the world passes by doing the same. And yet we’re convinced that we are more connected to each other than ever before.

Thanks to all that some of us must carry chargers almost everywhere to stay plugged in      never to miss out on anything     WTH.

In 2013 Samsung introduced some range of devices designed for humans       your life’s companion      WTF! Mmh does that make owners of older Samsung models aliens?

Social media is addictive, a lot more like sex; actually harder to resist than sex; sadly brands on the other end are still behaving like horny teenagers. 2013 was the year Kenya’s social media hit puberty    there’s was lot to try out, see how it works, explore and watch as it grows     mistakes were made, hearts were broken, expectations weren’t met    guys were unhappy but vowed to try again! Above all people still talk about social networking, everyone wants to get it right    some are surprised that after all it wasn’t their silver bullet.

In 2013 businesses are still struggling to get your attention the proper way, reach, engage and interact with you in a conversation. Most of them want to achieve that through ads, give aways, offers, promos, great content in context & cool sticky ideas or through a customer service team that keyboard ninjas can harass when there’s nothing else to do.

This was also the year popular platforms explored better ways of unlocking ads on mobile by making them engaging    less annoying, more targeted….but how exactly is Facebook’s plan on their video ads by the way? Would you play one? Isn’t serving ads on Twitter a bit like airing an ad in the middle of a phone conversation?  Seen those YT ads? Those few seconds before “Skip the Ad”    seem like eternity    somehow these platforms weren’t built to display ads.

If you work in marketing, PR, Comms, as the influencer in residence at that agency or freelance as a social media strategist    whatever those people do    you’ve probably done presentations in 2013 with stats and case studies on why social media is the biggest shift after the agrarian and industrial revolution. You’ve also shared great social ideas with your boss; got a go ahead but the finance guys screwed you on the budget    and the accountant asked for a receipt for the Facebook ads J.  Stay focused 2014 will be your big year.

Thanks to you [the social media guy] your boss now believes in social and understands what it is & how it works. The agencies now have to pitch in with hard figures, tight workable ideas with some + ROI & original concepts because you’ve been to all corners of the internet to tell what they copied or stolen. Your understanding of all put an end to the colourful but confusing reports full of buzzwords and vanity metrics from agencies, you’ve also ensured they do real work and get paid reasonable fees          for that excellent job you now sit at the table of men when anything digital, social, mobile e.t.c. is on the agenda.

The Facebook guy/Intern became a full time social media officer in 2013, some graduate bloggers now work as social media managers in-house, and influential guys on social media are cooling their heels as community managers somewhere     it was indeed a great year.

Finally in 2013 more traditional ad, PR and experiential agencies added social to their offerings just so they don’t miss out on this cake. And some agencies integrated & there were acquisitions too. Are they making money? Yes!  2014 will be more competitive.

The lost---unfriendly—not so social brands have led to the rapid growth of digital and social media agencies in 2013. For that reason social media skills are highly in demand and the talented social media guy is now a respected well paid professional.

In August we had SOMA Awards that recognized & awarded the brands, individuals and campaigns that hacked social well in 2012-13….did you learn anything about what sets the winners apart? I don’t know---so you tell me!

Now back to you the brand manager, the business owner, the guy paying for these services.

Did social make any business sense to you in 2013? How much did you directly spend on social media efforts? Are you getting it right? Do you even understand a bit of this thing yet? If no let 2013 be the year you quit counting your Twitter followers weekly, Facebook fans you’ve added after those giveaways, hits on your website and views on your YouTube videos. Leave that to interns to worry about J

Still unhappy? PAUSE- Lets thinks about a social or no--social 2014 together

There are businesses out there making many millions a year in profits that still don’t care about Twitter, blogs or facebook. Are they all wrong? Would you buy from them if they started tweeting? Would their revenues double? Will their unhappy customers return? Will they grow rapidly, outwit the competition? Spend less on marketing & sales?

I don’t have all the answers to these questions but I find myself thinking about them more in between the trending topics, blog posts, viral videos and facebook updates.

However one sure thing is people do business with people and that happens through tight personal relationships, by delivering great customer service, offering excellent products competitively and it works for them. They’re more successful than most of those businesses on social media looking out for latest tech wave to ride on. And yet they’re doing great business. Not tweeting about their awesomeness    doing what really matters.

If you’re still not getting this right you don’t have to be on social media in 2014. It’s not for everyone.  It doesn’t work for all of us. Or you could use it to spy on competition, gather some market intelligence, track conversations, monitor your brands    you don’t need that page. Use that social media time to meet that angry customer who tweets @you daily, call the guy who thinks you’re a con because he never got the airtime he won on your page   send him a gift. How about you stop asking for email addresses & instead schedule appointments with fans interested in your service? Stop hiding behind that page & Twitter handle J

As the year ends I’m continually amazed by the number of people and the growth of brands on social media in Kenya. I’m also worried by how we are spending our time     I know collectively we [Kenyans] are the second most tweeting nation after South Africa     yeah we’re that social. We had our noisy and proud moments on social media, the social politicians who spent more hours on Twitter campaigns got lesser votes than their Twitter followers     whatever happened there I can’t blame anyone    Kura ziko kwa ground    so are your customers. In as much as social media places the resources of the world at our fingertips, some Kenyans on Twitter especially have real trouble seeing past the ends of their noses to spot the limitless possibilities     there’s more to the hating, memes & nudes!

Finally I am happy we’re getting out of “social media puberty”---with tough lessons off course so let’s make 2014 count.  Merry Christmas and a happy social 2014.  

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