Firefly Kenya Offers Insight, Impact Of Social Media

Firefly Kenya, a new unit of Millward Brown East Africa, has offered an insight of how Kenyans have experienced a fundamental shift in how they communicate.

Through social media, Kenyans have contributed to the massive global conversation.

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Firefly Kenya, a new unit of Millward Brown East Africa, has offered an insight of how Kenyans have experienced a fundamental shift in how they communicate. Through social media, Kenyans have contributed to the massive global conversation.

Kenyans are users of a wide range of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, but many Kenyan firms have yet to reach out effectively to consumers on-line.

According to a study carried out by Millward Brown in Kenya, 11 percent of Kenyans have accessed the Internet in the past four weeks, and among those 53 percent have accessed it on their mobile phone. This is among the key findings of a Social Media survey carried out across 15 countries by market research firm Firefly Millward Brown, released in Nairobi this week.

While Facebook is an important social and communication tool, (56 percent of Facebook users in Kenya use chat regularly) - it does have other key uses.
Kenyans are increasingly using social media to get local and international news, keep up to date with their favorite football clubs, find out what's on at their local bar or nyama choma, and importantly, keep up to date with small fashion retailers who use Facebook as their marketing tool of choice.

"As internet penetration grows and social media becomes integral to people's lives, businesses should move beyond corporate websites into interactive services" says Chris Githaiga, Millward Brown's head of client services in Kenya.

According to Firefly, consumers are in control with social media, therefore Kenyan companies have to make their brands part of this new age conversation. They should let their brands flow in social forums like fan pages, blogs, social networks and viral videos.

Kenya has just over one million Facebook users - 2.8 percent of the population. This is higher than Nigeria and India, with 1.8 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.

Facebook penetration in South Africa is at 7.5 percent. With half of Kenyan internet users accessing the web via their cell phones and the high penetration of cell phones vs. computers in this market, (63 percent vs. 3.6 percent respectively ), Firefly expects internet usage to grow in this market.

The social media landscape represents marketing and promotion at its very best. It compares favourably to the traditional mediums of TV or radio where consumers are passive recipients of a message. The following are 10 practices to engage with the social media.

1. Don't re-create your homepage in social media -- consumers want to see something new, fresh or different from brands -- not a rehash of the same information they can get on the brand's official Web site.

2. Listen first, then talk: create a dialogue -- by far one of the biggest issues consumers have. They want a conversation where brands listen to what they have to say.

3. Build trust by being open and honest -- transparency is key for brands in social media and is the most critical factor in building trust. However, consumers perceive that brands would rather hide behind policies and procedures than admit to their failings or shortcomings.

4. Give your brand a face -- brands often suffer in social media because they don't have anyone who answers to the consumer, a face for the brand. This prevents many consumers from actively engaging with companies in social media.

5. Offer something of value -- consumers are more likely to respond to brands that offer them something real and tangible, preferably without wanting something in return. While discounts and coupons are in vogue for brands in social media, they can create distrust. Worthwhile and exclusive content or deals or inside information on new products and services are valued by consumers.

6. Be relevant -- consumers want to see content that relates to their life, their interests, their desires and their needs. Interestingly, several respondents commented on the lack of relevance for brands of 'functional' products like detergent, fabric softener and household cleaning products within the social media universe. In social media consumers are more critical about content that isn't deemed relevant and feel that it's invading their space.

7. Talk like a friend, not a corporate entity -- consumers want brands to communicate in simple, casual language that is conversational. They do not want technical or sales speak.

8. Give consumers some control -- to operate effectively, brands must relinquish some of the control they have held for many years and be comfortable with the fact that they cannot solely dictate the message anymore. Brands that embrace consumer input and promote it will be more effective in managing the conversation.

9. Let consumers find you/come to you -- another stark departure from traditional media campaigns, consumers do not want to feel that brands are 'shouting' messages at them. The perception is clearly that brands will use 'intrusive' and 'interruptive' advertising in social media.

10. Let consumers talk for you -- brands achieve more kudos when consumers take the initiative and advocate them. The recent Toyota campaign, where real people talked about their stories on Facebook and were then selected to feature in a television ad, is a great example where the brand is not trying to overtly sell but is building relationships by encouraging customers to participate in conversations.