Dear Kenyan Brands, It Is Not Always About Trending

Kenyan brands seem to be obsessed with one thing when it comes to social media: Trending.

I have worked and approached several brands in Kenya on leveraging their online presence and the first question majority of them ask is, “can you make us trend?”

About 70 percent of the brands I have worked with and those I have approached believe that “trending” on Twitter amounts to success in social media marketing.

But is trending really a success and should it be a priority for brands?

The answer is no. Trending only serves one purpose; awareness and a brand will be lucky to harvest something out of a trend.

The fact about trending on social media, especially Twitter is that everything and anything can trend. Any hashtag can trend. One can post any verbiage, attach a hashtag and “kaboom”, it will be up among the top trends.

Kenyan brands and self-appointed influencers should first understand how social media works. For social media to effectively deliver for a brand, it has to follow five stages known as the ” Marketing Funnel.” These stages are:

i. Awareness ~ making something known. In most cases, the communication is always one way either from the brand or the influencers working for the brand. The information is usually general in nature aimed at introducing a product or service to the online community.

ii. Engagement ~ A successful “awareness” stage leads to the “engagement” stage. This is the stage where people other than the brand and the influencers, join in the conversation. Mostly it is usually through asking questions, a clarification or a retweet, like and a quote here and there.

iii. Preference ~ How one handles the “engagement” stage will determine whether he/she will manage to change the opinion of the people (online audience), from what they already know or knew to what one is offering or planning to offer. This is simply making them prefer or think of abandoning what they already have to try what you have.

iv. Impact ~ Having successfully convinced the audience, they now take action. This can be seen through increase of sales or increased uptake of a service.

v. Advocacy ~ When others start endorsing your brand, product or service on their own without you getting involved. This is the success of the whole process.

Many brands in Kenya, start with the “Awareness” stage and finish with the “Awareness” stage and count it as a success.

This does not mean that trending is useless. No. Trending has its own advantages. For instance, if you need your product, service or brand to be known or information reach more people within a short time, trending is the best. Also, if your only intend to be on social media for a short period of time, say you are offering a product or service just for a day, then trending should be your thing.

Trending should come as the last option in your social media engagement plans. The best engagement begins with “getting to know your audience” through interactions. This takes between a week to a month and it involves just normal posting, not aimed at trending but at generating a conversation.

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