Does Your Business Need a Twitter Account?

Has your business opened a Twitter account? Twitter has been touted as a marketer’s dream, but before you get into it consider what you expect out of it. This article discusses 5 valid reasons for joining Twitter and how they work out in the Kenyan context.

Twitter in Kenya

Twitter remains one of the largest social media networks, and has 328 million monthly active users worldwide according to a recent report. Messages on Twitter (tweets) are limited to 140 characters, which is considered a beautiful constraint. Twitter helps you to keep up with news from around the world, since ~500 million tweets are dispatched every day. The use #hashtags makes tweets searchable by topic, making it easier to follow news that you are interested in.

State of the Internet in Kenya 2016” reports that Twitter has 2.2 million monthly active users in Kenya and 1 million of them use Twitter every day. From what I have seen Kenyans on Twitter engage in politics, talk about football, keep up with the news and tickle one another with humor. Here are some of the hashtags that were trending when working on this article:

#TzvsKe – Online banter between Kenyans and Tanzanians. Kenyans appear to have the upper hand.

#TeamWorshipWednesday – Kenyans sharing scripture and inspirational messages on Wednesday.

#RedCard20 – Online debate that seeks to bar corrupt individuals from running in elections.

#MainaAndKingangi – Live comments on a popular breakfast radio show.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Twitter Account

Carmelo Hannity wrote a blog article “5 reasons your business needs a Twitter account”. The reasons appear valid and the article provides many practical tips so please read it. After being active on Twitter for half a year, I feel ready to evaluate these 5 reasons in the Kenyan context.

After all, Kenyans have peculiar habits, that determine the benefits one can derive from a social media network. Reasons for using Twitter as a business that are valid elsewhere don’t necessarily hold true for Kenya or East Africa. I have summarized the 5 reasons below and placed them in the Kenyan context based on my own experiences.

1. Viral promotions and special offers

Messages posted on Twitter are often retweeted by other Twitter users. This could increase your audience from hundreds of followers to thousands or millions of Twitter users.

In Kenya, I have seen retweets for popular brands and trending hashtags, but don’t expect your promotions and special offers to go viral. Two things that might work is coming up with something rib-breaking funny or an incentive for retweets. For instance, in the food business you could offer a free meal for every 100th retweet.

2. Great for customer support

Customer support via Twitter is a great idea. It increases the visibility of your brand and shows transparency in the dealings with your customers.

In Kenya, Safaricom is doing a great job with @Safaricom_Care which has a similar number of tweets as their regular handle (@SafaricomLtd).

3. Build relationships with influencers

Twitter connects you with people from around the world and allows you to start building relationships with top influencers in your industry. Do so by retweeting or liking their tweets, mentioning them in your own tweets and asking them questions or replying to theirs.

In Kenya, I have managed to make a few connections using these tactics, but those were with people that I knew. Most of the top Twitter accounts don’t even follow you back, so making connections with influencers on Twitter is next to impossible.

4. Expands your customer base

Twitter chats might be valuable tactic, but there are two main strategies for getting followers on Twitter. You can get followers by following accounts that belong to your targeted audience hoping that they will follow you back. You can also post valuable content that will trigger people to follow you before you decide to follow them back. Once you are connected you can start doing business by sending direct messages or driving traffic to your website.

In Kenya, there are many obstacles to doing business on Twitter. Very few accounts follow you or follow you back, so building a local audience is extremely hard. It is also difficult to engage with your followers, since Kenyans tend to be poor at social listening. Kenyans like to associate with fame and fortune, so a startup is likely to be ignored, while a celebrity only needs to burp to earn a like.

5. Enables you to curate content

Twitter makes it very easy to follow accounts that write valuable and fresh content almost daily. As a business, you can retweet the best and most suitable content as a valuable service to your followers in addition to your own content. Sharing valuable content gives people a reason for following you and reading your tweets. Not only that, as followers they are more likely to buy the products and services that you have on offer.

In Kenya as anywhere else, sharing valuable content through social media increases your credibility and authority as a brand or influencer. It does take a long time though before this translates into an increase in followers, engagement, leads, and sales. My recommendation is that as a business you use Twitter for the long haul, but try and minimize the time and resources that you spend on it.

Conclusion

Twitter connects you with a worldwide audience and has limited but powerful features. What you might appreciate most about Twitter is its simplicity, so you’ll get up and running in no time.

In my experience, Twitter is an excellent tool for curating content using Lists and I expect it to work well in customer support. These reasons alone make it worthwhile to open a Twitter account.

Twitter is an easy-to-use platform for promoting valuable content, connecting with influencers and growing your customer base. However, to fully achieve these business objectives you need to support your presence on Twitter with a presence on other social media platforms.

Using Twitter for Business in Kenya has its unique challenges, but success never comes easy. I love to hear your thoughts and learn from your experience on Twitter. Just leave a comment below.

About Author:

Willy Simons came to Kenya from The Netherlands in 1994. He is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Oakar Services, Esri Eastern Africa and Spatiality. He blogs about business, geospatial technology and cloud computing.