Tawanda Mashava

All things, without fear, and informational

Thursday, 7 January 2016

How Zimbabweans can Choose Which Social Networks to Showcase their Products and Services

This post is inspired by a lot of discussions I have seen on a number of social media platforms, the latest being my (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) friend Nico Abote's post on his Facebook profile. He was celebrating the kind of connections he is making on LinkedIn compared to, presumably, Facebook. Nico, by the way, is a renowned videographer.

After Nico’s post, many of his Facebook friends came in with their own thoughts, he is one of the Zimbabweans with a high engagement rate on Facebook, I must admit, and this post was no different. Some of the comments led me to write this post and try to demystify the concept of which social network is better than the other.

There are too many Social Media platforms to consider, and I would advise anyone not to try too many, an average of 2 to 3 networks and doing them very well should be enough for most businesses and freelancers. The question that then comes is: How do I chose which 2 or 3 to focus on. And it is this issue that I will try to address here. In social media, it’s about quality, not just quantity. Doing two or three channels really well with consistent, highly engaging content that is reaching and interacting with your target audience is what will lead to conversion and customers.

I used to talk of ‘The Big 5’ in Social Media, that is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, but from now I will talk of ‘The Serious 6’, because Instagram has given reason to believe it must always be considered. Many people also want to talk of Pinterest, but personally I have never been a big fan of the network, and I’ve also realised that not many Zimbabweans use Pinterest. So for now I will leave it in my argument.

Who is Where?

Source: slideshare.net
Before you chose which 2 or 3 of these 6 you need concentrate on, you first need to know who your customer is, after answering this question, determine where this targeted buyer is found, and since there is no data specific to Zimbabwe on the demographics and usage of these social networks, we will use the international statistics, and accordingto a Pew survey in 2015:
  • ·         Facebook has wide, global usage, and surprisingly to me, fewer young people are staying active.
  • ·         Instagram is a favourite among teens and young adults.
  • ·         Twitter is home to many information junkies and tech savvy people (In Zimbabwe, it has become a discussion platform, especially from those who hate what the inept government is doing to our beloved Zimbabwe)
  • ·         LinkedIn is the playground for high income, educated professionals
  • ·         Google+ is a network with a predominantly older male user base (in Zimbabwe, we would just say male user, not OLDER male user)
  • ·         YouTube has an equal number of men and women, but men are more active users with wider preferences
  • ·         And though I didn’t want to list it, Pinterest has a user base which is 80% female dominated, most of whom are from a higher income background

Assuming these stats hold true for Zimbabwe as an individual demography sample, you now know where you are likely to get the most returns on your social media marketing efforts by targeting your personas.

What Content Do You Share?

For your content to go viral and have meaningful engagement, you need to post on the right platforms, written content performs differently with visual content on different platforms.

Written content has proven to be more effective on platforms that ensure readership. Whether it’s short or long, articles and blog posts get a lot of visibility and shares through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

On the other hand, if your business has a lot of focus on physical products, going visual can open up endless possibilities for you. Facebook (yes, Facebook again), Instagram (and Pinterest and Tumblr and  . . .) are great for visually oriented social media accounts which are usually dominated by girls.

If you create or can create a lot of videos about your products or services, then you have to seriously consider YouTube. Whilst other video sharing sites like Vimeo and Vine have proved very popular globally, I am yet to ascertain their popularity and effectiveness with the locals, but you can still try them. Consider creating ‘How To’ videos, as they can attract the right type of people to your channel.

Your Industry

There is a general trend on the type of industry that performs better on certain platforms, and you need to choose wisely if you are to get the desired engagement and eventually conversion of fans into customers.
Here are some of the industry based trends across social networks:
  • ·         Instagram — art, food, retail, lifestyle and leisure
  • ·         Twitter — news, tech updates
  • ·         LinkedIn — B2B, recruitment agencies
  • ·         Facebook — Almost everyone, but few Business 2 Business companies
  • ·         YouTube — Luxury products, DIY, Home improvement (How to videos)
  • ·         Google+ — SEO, IT

Which would you take?

So whats the best network?

Whilst Facebook is the largest social Network, it can never guarantee you the kind of exposure you might need as a business, especially if your clients are other businesses (B2B guys). Its Newsfeed algorithm will mean you post can easily get lost in a myriad of other status updates and 'weekend at the bar' photos. However, it is the best for customer engagement and building long term relationships.

For products based companies and creatives like photographers and videographers, visual is the way to go, with YouTube, Instagram leading the way (you can put in Pinterest there). They will work well in your product promotion strategy.
Keep you LinkedIn profile professional, and do all the funny stuff on Facebook, just do not jeopardize you chances at anything
Twitter (My personal favorite) is interesting; it works well for most of these businesses. It is an interesting hybrid with active usage by everyone from teenagers to famous athletes and actors to professionals, and companies using it to reach both consumers and businesses. Twitter is also the best if your business is up for constant interaction. It has also become a great platform to run a support center without any hassle. Econet used to use Twitter very well to solve their customers’ problems, although this side of their business has since dropped down dramatically.

What other factors are important in choosing the right social media network? Respond in the comments box below.
Read more ...

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Facebook's Free Basics: The Other Side

So, according to TechZim, Facebook will be launching its Free Basics service in Zimbabwe in January 2016. Oh, good thing, I mean, what else would be better than having the Internet, the World Wide Web (WWW) of information, available even to the poorest areas of Zimbabwe and poor Zimbabweans, for FREE, yeah, you heard me right, for FREE, not some bundles or other such marketing gimmicks as we have been used to being provided by our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Econet and Telecel. After all, this service has already been launched in some African countries.

According to Facebook, a number of SELECTED basic services will be offered to the Zimbabwean community for free, and these basic services include websites or apps that deal in health, education and so on. This should be a welcome development, as important information about such things as health will be available to the masses for free, a situation better than the current situation where only those with the money to buy data can access such information. The overall aim is to make anyone and everyone, especially the poor, access such basic information, thereby bettering their lives.

For the Poor, but not for the Poor

Sarcastically.....Yes, access to internet is going to better the lives of people who have no access to sanitised toilets, toothbrush, basic healthcare, education, have no source of income, no chances of mobility. This can be considered a dangerous proposition, giving people with no access to basic rights information on what could be, without allowing them the remotest chance to be a part of that which they will desire.
The poor need the basics, Sanitized toilets, and not the internet
Raising poor people's aspiration, by providing them with internet access, must be met with opportunities to pursue the aspirations, otherwise its plain cruuelty. If we are going to be honest with each other, these poor communities rarely use the internet for productivity, but for chatting, music and videos, whilst we might not necessarily want to dictate what anyone uses the internet for, this free access will create an even greater demand for such services as Facebook, thereby distracting the productivity of these communities, whilst increasing the marketing value of Facebook, via the aptly named Free Basics (FB as well)

Net Neutrality

The issue of Net Neutrality has been discussed and exhausted, but I will highlight it again here. A lot of us Zimbabweans might not understand what Net Neutrality is, so I'll take the definition from Wikipedia:
Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. (Wikipedia, 31 Dec 2015)
Let me further explain what this means, Anyone should have access to any website or web resource, at the same price.

This probably still doesn't make sense to some, so let me give an example of clear violation of the principle of Net Neutrality: Econet offers Facebook and Whatsapp Bundles, at a cheaper price than accessing other sites per Megabyte. This means people on Econet platform are more likely to visit their Facebook than many other platforms and websites on the Internet. (Facebook is not the Internet, and the Internet is not Facebook)

So what is the problem with you being granted access to information or apps that you use everyday at a cheaper rate than others that are not so useful websites or apps? Everything. For starters, it makes the playing ground uneven, consider a small Zimbabwean startup that has developed an app to compete with Whatsapp, who will use that app if accessing it is more expensive compared to accessing the established brand? The internet should be open, and access should be fair so we can all compete at the same level.

The worst thing, in reference to Net Neutrality and the Free Basics service, is that Facebook and the ISPs decide what is basic. We do not need Internet Gatekeepers. This hand-picking of services to be included will obviously lead to discrimination against other services not on the list, especially those of rivals, take the case of Econet's Ownai a classifieds platform that is zero rated from an Econet line, it makes it unfair on other such services as www.classifieds.co.zw, and eventually will kick out smaller rivals out of business, leading to monopolising certain sections of the Internet.
Yes, they will decide what we can, and what we cannot access!

Privacy Issues 

 Facebook basically is in the business of selling data, your data, to those who want to market their products and services, they are not in the business of connecting you with your loved ones, they only use that as bait. Now allowing all services that are accessible via Free Basics's data to pass through Facebook's servers simply means we are giving them more data than they can collect via their Social Networking platform, Facebook itself, and they will make money using your data, without your consent.

A better explanation of the dangers of this is given by the Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institute of Science in their statement criticizing Free Basics:
This flaw is not visible to the lay person as it’s a technical detail, but it has deep and disturbing implications.  Since Facebook can access un-encrypted contents of users’ ‘basic’ services, either we get to consider health apps to be not basic, or risk revealing health records of all Indians to Facebook.  Either we get to consider our banking apps to be not ‘basic’, or risk exposing the financial information of all Indians to Facebook.


Whilst Free Basics seems a very noble idea, and will obviously come with some immense benefits to the Zimbabwean population, we need to be worried, lest allowing them to run such services will eventually give them access to almost all data on all Zimbabweans. Whilst this might seem far-fetched, Facebook can eventually become stronger than the Government:

Read more ...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Deal with Candy Crush Requests once and for all!

If you are on Facebook, like all (Yes, I said that) normal Zimbabweans are, then you have that one crazy friend, no, its not one actually, those crazy friends who visit Facebook for the sake of playing that irritating game, Candy Crush Saga (Lets block it now). You can check out the image on the left, it just shows how much people hate those invites, and by the way, I loved that Movie, Liam Neeson at his Best

Read more ...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Whatsapp Double Blue Tick - What it means

OK, so yesterday I was chatting to this girl, who I must admit, am kinda fond of, but I ain't gonna take any action towards that, and its not the subject of this article. What suprised me is after sending her a message as usual, I got the single tick, then the usual double tick, and after a few seconds, both ticks turned BLUE! I could not get angry, for starters, Blue is my favourite color, and green my worst color, so having a bit of Blue on the predominantly Green whatsapp is a welcome development for me.

Read more ...