The Social media revolution has been going strong for quite a while now and Ghanaians have been no exception. According to data from Facebook’s advertising tool, Ghana currently has 1, 096,6001 Facebook users with 72.4% of those users ranging in age from 18-34 years in age.Alexa ranks Facebook as the number one site visited by Ghanaians online, surpassing Google. Though these figures are themselves impressive the trend is even more so.
As at April 2009, Ghana had 100,9002 Facebook users meaning over a period of roughly 2 years Ghana’s Facebook population has increased by over 1000%. Concerning general internet trends, Ghana’s Internet penetration rate stood at 5.2% as at June 2010. However, according to the National Communications Authority (NCA) Ghana’s mobile penetration rate stood at 74.2% at the end of 2010. As mobile phones with internet capabilities become more cheaply and easily available I expect the country’s internet penetration rate to shoot up to match our mobile penetration rate. The aforementioned data shows that the majority of Ghanaians using the internet are also involved in social networking over Facebook.
So how has this impacted business in Ghana? Very little. Despite the popularity of social media connectivity among Ghanaians, most businesses in Ghana have failed to adequately respond and take advantage of this trend and the opportunities social media provides.
I made a quick search on Facebook for the pages of prominent businesses in Ghana and the results were disappointing. Melcom Ghana lacks a Facebook page (only has a ‘person’ link), Accra Mall has a page with extremely little information or development, Ecobank, Barclays have pages with zero information or activity, MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana and Airtel Ghana admirably operate Facebook pages where they post regularly and can be seen to respond to customer complaints, tiGO confusingly has ‘person’ and ‘group’ links as well as a poorly updated page. Expresso, has nothing at all.
Of the major universities in the country KNUST and Ashesi must be acknowledged for running popular and well monitored Facebook groups providing information to students. The University of Ghana on the other hand is sorely lacking and I could not find any official Facebook page. Among the churches, the International Central Gospel Church and Christ Embassy must be acknowledged for making great effort in connecting with members using social media, with Christ Embassy going so far as to develop their own social media site.
So why should these organizations want to develop a presence on social media? Here are a few reasons:
- Connecting with Customers and the Public. It should be every organization’s desire to obtain and maintain a strong connection with their customers and potential customers in the general public. Social media offers an excellent path to achieving this by allowing the public a portal through which they can remain in constant communication with the organization and be made aware of organizational activities. Doing so strengthens the bond the customer shares with the company as customers move from a mere transaction-based relationship to developing an emotional connection with the organization. Sharing of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
activities through social media may be one such way of developing closer customer connections.
- Direct Marketing Activities. Social Media allows organizations to target marketing activities directly at specific distinguishable customers by creating and using content users can respond to. Status updates on Facebook pages are transmitted to the news feed pages of all people who’ve liked the page in the same way Twitter ‘tweets’ will be immediately visible to all following a user. Along with the number of ‘LIKEs’ being visible, it allows the marketer to make targeted campaigns with an absolutely certain reach (the reach can be greater if recipients reciprocate by sharing posts to their friends. For example, Accra Mall could use social media to highlight and profile individual stores along with any ongoing promotions, events and special offers to spark public interest.
- Customer Service. Vodafone, MTN, tiGO and Airtel are already using social media as a customer service platform allowing them to receive and address customer service complaints. Social media is especially effective as a customer service platform because it is easily accessed by those already on that platform, allows complaints to be made even when no service representative is immediately available, and allows clients to help solve each others problems in a community mode.
- Brand Building. An active and vibrant presence in social media will help build any brand’s image as a youthful, trendy brand that is in touch with changes in technology and society. Too many organization’s in Ghana are seen by the youth as out-of-touch with modern trends and involvement in Social media will allow brands to develop stronger relationships with the youth, who may be their largest consumers. Banks in Ghana, in particular the older more established ones (e.g. GCB) may use this medium as a way of connecting with young customers and portraying the banks as young at heart and vibrant.
DreamOval itself is focused on leading the way in social media connectivity because we have established that no active, technology-oriented, software oriented company as ours can do without an active social media presence to connect to the new generation of tech-savvy Ghanaian youth.
Social media tools are mostly free to use and fairly easy to set up and maintain so it’s quite frankly a wonder that more businesses and organizations haven’t taken greater advantage of it. Organizations in Ghana need to keep looking towards the future and Social Media is not only a present reality but a future one as well, the sooner businesses in Ghana take advantage of it, the more competitive and profitable they will be.
Executive, Product Evangelism and Social Media Relations
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Twitter: @DreamOval_Ltd & @TerenceAdjei