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Kenyan firms in constant battle for customers on social media

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 his smartphone.

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 competitive.

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 their products.

"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 low cost.

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.


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