In my last article I spoke about the importance of technology, rule of law, democracy and infrastructure to the economy. I looked at how technology is directly linked to foreign direct investment (FDI) and how FDI is important to the overall health of the economy. Take for an example Zimbabwe, it is a relatively modern society with a well-educated society and literacy rate of 90.70 and ranked first in Africa (The African Economist).
On the hand Mozambique which is ranked number 40 on the Africa’s literacy table with a rate of 47.80 (The African Economist) but managed to get USD4.7bn in 2013 (Standard Bank) with Zimbabwe only managing to attract a measly $400m (Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance). The main reason for this huge difference is that Zimbabwe has not been stable politically since 2000 whereas Mozambique is becoming one of the most stable and democratic countries in Southern Africa.
While governments’ plays a very important role in making sure the countries and economies embrace technological advances, private companies have a role in making sure that the embrace is moved forward for they employ more people than governments. In today’s world, social media have revolutionize the way business is being conducted and will continue for the next foreseeable future. Major companies now use social media such as twitter to announce major news about their companies. Take a look for example in 2014 Facebook had 1.28billion monthly users with 1.01billion of those using mobile. Twitter had 255million monthly users with 78% of those being on mobile (Digital Insights). There are other social network platforms such as Google plus and LinkedIn but I chose Facebook and twitter because they are the most popular in Africa.
Below statistics from Portland Communications courtesy of Ventures Africa will help to illustrate how Africa is tweeting.
According to most statistics African internet users use mobile phones to reach these social platforms.In Kenya; “users do not even need a smartphone anymore to use twitter”, (Ratio Magazine, Michael Onsando). While a lot of companies are taking advantage of these platforms, some of them are not utilizing them at all. Research shows that only 24% of top South African 40 companies on Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) uses twitter to share company’s financial results with 42% not using twitter at all compared to 52% of UK (FTSE) companies. Some of those companies that do use twitter sometimes do not use it properly, like using hashtags on their tweets (FTI Consulting).
In Kenya a lot of companies have Facebook and Twitter or other social media platforms accounts but do not utilize them (Ratio Magazine). While using social media doesn’t guarantee increase of profits, it is an important medium to engage directly with your clients.. In essence it brings directly the faces of companies such as CEO’s to the people who buy or might buy those company’s products or services. They will feel personally connected to the company and its management. For small enterprises or companies, this medium helps in introducing your products to the global audience thereby saving you money through advertising.
There are pitfalls in using social media, but the greatest advantage is that you will know what your clients think of your products or services. It also accords you the opportunity to reply to your customers directly and instantly thereby limiting the damage that might be incurred with a non-response. A lot of managers fear the backlash that might happen if something goes wrong but the truth of the matter is people are already talking about your products so you might as well engage with them.