#SMWLDN #SMWQUIRK  by  @mich_maci It’s Social media Week, dah-ling. Didn’t you know?  Yah, full batts on both phones and th...

#SMWLDN2014: The Big Social Media African 5


It’s Social media Week, dah-ling. Didn’t you know?  Yah, full batts on both phones and the iPad… hashtag sorted… Google Maps in overdrive… what’s the wifi passcode here please… we must talk after this… are you guys coming to SXSW next year at all? All that good stuff.

Being particularly interested in what brands can do to engage audiences in emerging and growth markets such as APAC, Africa, LATAM, I was intrigued to pop on down to an event hosted by Quirk London about opportunities for brands wanting to engage African consumers: 'UNTAPPED MARKETS:SOCIAL MEDIA GATEWAYS INTO AFRICA'.

There are now 100 million active users of social media platforms like Facebook on the African continent. (Image credit: Ken Banks. Source: Media Club South Africa)
With a crew of panelists from Quirk London & Quirk South Africa being streamed live into the event, we had hard evidence of the first of many insights right up front – Africa’s broadband pipes are a little clogged and connectivity can be slow. Note to self: don’t build data heavy content, or at least, have an alternative. 

It was great to get some general insights and stats about the landscape and, refreshingly, it was also great to hear the panelists discuss what this actually means for brands. Here’s the big five from the session:

Insight #1:                 Africa is not one market. It’s more like 5. At least.
With over 1.3billion people speaking over 1,000 languages on the world’s biggest continent and vast cultural and financial differences between regions, Africa is fragmented, to say the least.

Opportunity: You need to stop trying to develop a single strategy/ content plan/ campaign for Africa – rather create plug and play assets and strategies that can be easily localized and adapted to make them relevant by region/ country.

Insight #2:                 43% of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 15.

Opportunity: Start thinking now about this new generation who will have more income, more access to telecoms and data than any before and make sure your brand is ready to engage them, if you’re not doing that already. Make campaigns built to last.

Insight #3:                 Africa is NOT poor.
Every year, $100bUS comes into Africa, they have the lowest personal debt rates in the world and Africa produces as much oil as Saudi Arabia. Yes, there’s poverty, but Africa definitely isn’t poor.

Opportunity: The new rise of businessmen and women in tech, industry etc means those with money are willing to spend it and they want something to show for it – Africa is ripe for luxury brands. Do your research and act quickly to get into the hearts and minds of these consumers.

Insight #4:                 Africa doesn’t always follow the West
Everyone believes Africa is 20 years behind, but it’s not – it is forging it’s own path. Africa isn’t sitting home watching X-Factor, quite the opposite. Despite not having resources as abundant as in the West, Africa is instead pushing forward and forging a way with solutions. Great example: Apple Pay? Ha! That’s soooooo 2002. MPESA has been around for years enabling mobile payments (Kenya – 12 years).

78% of African internet use is for social media in 2013 – that’s higher than in the US

Opportunity: Africa is the last great opportunity for businesses and brands – everywhere has been saturated. Smart brands should consider whether their cutting edge tech and campaigns could be launched first in African countries to African consumers.

Insight #5:                 Mobile as 2nd screen? It’s not even 1st screen in Africa. It’s more like the only screen.

  • 90% of the population has a mobile. Many have 2 or 3 phones to utilize the offers from different mobile providers. These are savvy and offer sensitive consumers.
  • Peri-Urban consumers in Southern Africa spend, on average, 20% of their salary on mobile airtime and data.
  • 80% of South Africans are active daily users of social (Facebook most popular but huge rise in use of twitter as less data heavy)
  • Data costs and usage for consumers in Africa are underestimated grossly by users in the West.

Opportunity: What can you (brand) do to empower your consumers in return for engagement and advocacy? Help them, help you. Etc. Successful brand campaigns in Africa see 80-90% engagement if you offer real value in return for engagement – what’s real value to a continent of mobile first users? Simple - airtime, data and free wifi as incentives see more engagement than anything else.

Since the talk I've been doing a bit more research and found some great digital campaigns that have performed well in Africa:

And here's some further reading I thought was quite useful for those interested in delving deeper:
  • This awesome piece on how social media is more than business in Africa

In all, a great session with useful insights. Thanks to the crew at Quirk for hosting. And God Bless Social Media Week London!

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