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Technology

Local companies should leverage the power of social media better

Social media have provided an opportunity for
Social media have provided an opportunity for media agencies to launch products, advertise existing offerings and strengthen their relationships with customers.  

M.O.G (Men of God) will launch their new album “Someday” and a new clothing line this Saturday at the Mavuno Dome in Nairobi.

While they had at their disposal an array of media through which to advertise the event, they settled for the medium of the hour— Facebook.

They publicized their event by having Kanji Mbugua, one of Kenya’s leading gospel musicians, invite his 4,995 Facebook friends to attend.

An additional 1,755 were invited using other Facebook personalities and platforms for a grand total of 6,750 invitations.

Of these, 1,178 have indicated that they might attend the event, 2,135 have responded that they will not attend the event and 3,437 are yet to confirm their attendance.

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This phenomenon resonates with the findings of research undertaken in South Africa and presented at the 11th annual Africa media research conference.

According to respondents of the survey, dubbed South African Marketers’ Perceptions of Social Media, its Impact and Future Role, in three years time, social media will be an important tool for marketing organisational activities. To this end, the respondents surveyed by OrnicoGroup, have been spending significantly more time strategising for social media.

“In the last 12 months, social media has increased by 86.9 per cent in Africa,” said Oresti Patricios, chief executive officer OrnicoGroup.

The appeal of social media has grown exponentially due to its ability to circulate messages to large audiences instantaneously at little or no cost.

This ability was identified by respondents to the survey as “make or break.”

Companies can be caught in the whirlwind of bad publicity due to swift and real time spread of negative messages. To broadcast a negative message, a disgruntled consumer need only post a comment on his or her profile and then allow their friends to respond in kind.

Four key groups were surveyed: advertising, public relations and media agencies, as well as marketers. Media agencies, who are responsible for communicating to companies’ current and potential customers, topped the list of those using social media most frequently.

Social media have provided an opportunity for media agencies to launch products, advertise existing offerings and strengthen their relationships with customers.

Public relations agencies were found to use social media to take such proactive measures as responding to negative comments and messages posted by users.

To put the potential impact of social media into perspective, consider that there are 250 million Facebook users, 30 million of whom connect primarily via their mobile phones.

According to Alexa, a web information company, Facebook is the third most visited site in the world as well as in Kenya. On average, users spend 27 minutes on the site everyday.

Facebook offers an affordable platform for advertising. One can elect to spend as little as one dollar a day and target one’s audience using very specific demographic and psychograpic filters such as age, gender and location.

YouTube is another popular site that companies can leverage for publicity. It is currently ranked the fifth most visited site in the country.

The Kenya Tourism Board has posted videos on YouTube to market Kenya to the world. Local media houses have embraced YouTube to reach the diaspora and international markets.

YouTube’s advantage over Facbook is the extent to which people link into it from other sites. It currently has over 480,000 sites linked in, almost twice the number for Facebook.

“The way forward is to think digital, think social, think content, think context,” says Steve Garton media research director Synovate. How unfortunate that locally, companies are yet to fully leverage the opportunities provided social media.

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