by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chatting with a
friend on social media on Tuesday, university student Brian
Karani smiled as two adverts almost simultaneously popped up on
The ads from two leading telecoms were
informing him of the cheapest tariffs they were offering to
enable him browse and call more.
Karani read the messages carefully before considering a
mouth-watering offer from one of the telecommunication firms.
"Certainly, I would not have bought the internet bundles if
the adverts had not come on my screen.
"I did not even know they had the offer because I had not
seen it on TV," he said.
Like Karani, many other citizens would not see such adverts
on TV or hear them on radio as firms take the search for
customers on social media, where more Kenyans are spending most
of their time.
Banks, mobile telephone companies, hotels, alcohol makers,
digital lenders and supermarkets, among others, are battling on
the various social media platforms, namely Twitter, Facebook and
Instagram, as competition toughens.
Of all the firms, however, Kenyan banks and telecoms are
leading the pack with the two industries being one of the most
In the financial sector, the leading institutions are Kenya
Commercial Bank (KCB), Equity Bank and Cooperative Bank while in
the telecommunication industry, Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom are
in cut-throat competition.
The firms have cut the number of adverts on TV, radio and
newspapers and are almost exclusively using social media to sell
"The zero percent interest loan is back due to public
demand," KCB announced in one of its latest offerings in an
advert that has exclusively ran on social media.
On the other hand, Cooperative Bank told its customers:
"Enjoy no extra costs when you pay with your card."
Away from the banks, telecommunication firms are lighting up
social media with their adverts.
Safaricom posed, "For how long will you use feature phone?
Upgrade in 2019 with our deals on smartphones."
"Browse like a boss with free night data," Telkom Kenya told
its customers, while Airtel Kenya said,
"Don’t say we did not inform you, call for 1 shillings (0.01
U.S. dollars) per minute only."
All these adverts are accompanied with beautiful photos and
some with videos and are exclusively on social media.
According to the latest report by Bloggers Association of
Kenya, there were at least seven million Kenyans on Facebook, 12
million on WhatsApp, eight million on YouTube, four million on
Instagram, and one million on Twitter.
Internet subscription as of end-September 2018 stood at 41.8
million, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya,
with mobile phone accounting for 99.2 percent of all users.
Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution in
Nairobi, noted that increased internet connectivity has made
social media a powerful advertising platform as more people take
up smartphones in the East African nation.
"The figures make social media hard to ignore by the big
firms because this is where people are.
"If you make one advert and post on the various social media
platforms where the firms have hundreds of followers, you are
able to reach millions of people at one go.
"This is huge," he said, adding social media advertising is
Digital advertising is gaining popularity in Kenya because it
is designed to pull consumers to the product and not push the
product to them as in the case of traditional forms, according
to Mercy Rop, a digital marketer at Legibra Solutions.