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Harnessing the Power of Social Media

  Sep 18, 2012

The Inaugural Strategy Summit hosted a rich mix of CEOs Directors and Senior Managers from leading Kenyan companies, such as Safaricom, Kenya Power, UAP Insurance, Chase Bank, Housing Finance, Diamond Trust Bank, Kenya Reinsurance Corporation, East African Portland Cement Company, Transnational Bank and Coca-Cola (K). The Summit had one agenda: The Power of Social Media, and how to harness its potential for success as a company.

Many companies view social media as an add-on as opposed to having it as core to their business. Yet the reality is that we live in an essentially social world; a large, connected network of human beings, whose interaction has been propelled by the increasing prominence of internet and mobile devices in Kenya. Facts show that there are 28 million mobile phone subscribers in Kenya, which also holds 2nd place in the “most Tweeting nations” in Africa. This reality cannot be ignored by any CEO.

Sunny Bindra (Twitter: @sunnysunwords), leader of this year’s Strategy Summit (#strategysummit), shared on why CEOs need to go social. Some of the reasons were:

  • • Manage the conversation about your business; because people out there are saying something about your business. Whether good or bad, this information needs to be managed well.
  • • Gain a cheaper, faster way of managing customer service; by interacting with an audience that now more than ever, has the power to make 24/7 demands on your business.
  • • Get a better, richer recruitment tool

Sunny shared the Do’s and Don’ts of Social where he urged those yet to embrace the power of social media, not to go in unprepared. Having a clear digital strategy, with well-defined objectives will give you a clear pathway into engaging well with your customers in the digital space. Looking into the content that you want to communicate will create a vivid picture about your brand in the minds of your customers.

This is Africa

In Sunny’s words: “Today, Africa is Decorporatized (meaning formal employment will dwindle in future), Connected, Unconvinced and has the world’s youngest people.”, Michael Goldman (@MichaelMGoldman), from South Africa’s GIBS, built on this during one of his sessions, as part of the faculty team at the Strategy Summit. He explained how consumer behaviour is changing rapidly. Peer influence now drives customer decision-making more than anything else now, and this is amplified by the ceaseless interactions that customers now share. People are looking at what your organisation is about and talking about it – on digital space. Michael added that a brand is not just what you are known for, but also the sentimental connection that it makes with customers. Crucially, your brand is built or broken by your actions taken to satisfy customers, which now have to be continuous. No brand can sit back and be complacent in the digital/social era.

Dr. Anderson Emegbo (Twitter: @andyemegbo) from Nigeria the third faculty member of the Strategy Summit, discussed the African digital landscape and stated that Africans have a historic opportunity to take advantage of digital-social space if they embrace the new platforms – and create their own. . He discussed the Capital FM case – a radio company that went wholeheartedly digital years ahead of its competitors. The Capital team attended this session, led by their Chairman Chris Kirubi (Twitter: @CKirubi)

The Strategy Summit wrapped up with an insightful roundtable discussion moderated by Sunny Bindra, with a panel that constituted Chris Kirubi (Chairman Capital FM and Board Member of several companies), Maggie Ireri (MD, Ipsos-Synovate), Philip Ogola (ICT Officer atKenya Red Cross) and Dr. Bitange Ndemo (PS, Ministry of Information and Communications). The four panelists each shared their personal experiences with social media. Dr. Ndemo warned that it can be a double-edged sword, with the potential to do good as well as harm. He stressed that each one of us has to look at his or her values (both personally and from an organisational point of view), because in the next 10 years everyone will be in some form of digital platform. This will put huge demands on accountability and transparency in Africa. Tying to this, Mr Ogola reiterated that what you post broadcasts your brand to the world, and there is need to have careful policy guidelines. Ms Ireri commented that outsourcing your social media execution to ‘experts’ out there may cause your brand to lose its values. “Your brand’s pulse may be lost if you do not handle it yourself” she said. Mr Kirubi said that organizations no longer have a choice: they are either social and digital or they are “dead men walking.”

The Strategy Summit is run annually by Strathmore Business School, with topics that are top of the agenda for African business.

Click here to watch an interview with Sunny Bindra by Capital FM Kenya.

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