Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why social media is here to stay - #Uganda
For the business people, let us get down to social media.
Those phones that people have a very powerful.  As of January 2016, when a friend had me verify how many Ugandans were on Facebook, we found 1.7 million of them.  Likely the number has increased but our figure fixed what we wanted to do.
Human beings are social animals.  Hence social media.  Imagine even in Uganda, people visit each other randomly with no appointments and they enjoy spending time with each other.  This is likely one of the reasons why Ugandan unemployed youth abuse social media.  When I grew up in Uganda, we were not allowed to use the phone after 8pm or before 9am in the morning.  Remember those old phones?  It had a padlock.  Sounds funny when I think about it now but our father was with UPTL so some rules had to be enforced given that Posta was paying for every minute of our calls.
Fast forward, I look at the girls now, each with a smart phone in their hand, a laptop in their lap, and another one on the coffee table playing computer games.  Good ones though, eg. Minecraft the addictive internet game for kids.  What I found interesting about this is despite all their gadgets, they will also be doing homework while interacting with their friends using snapchat or one ear phone in talking on skype and etc…etc..
Here is where sales and marketing comes in.   I spend more time on my phone than on my computer.  Computer links (websites, I wait till I get on the computer).  So my most likely way of communicating is phone first.  If it is important, make use of phone applications.  You will have noticed that many companies have a website which loads on mobile phones with the same look or something similar to it.  Main reason, we are using phones more than computers.  I am not saying computers should go away (after all, I am using one right now since writing articles on a smart phone is not the same as on the computer).
Many big companies have dedicated teams for social media.  An entire department will be set up for people to interact with customers online via Facebook and lately many have Whatsapp groups to handle sales and customer complaints.  This is where Uganda comes in.  Customer calls take too long to be answered (please hold, someone will be with you shortly as you chew through your MBs).  Or the contact centre goes down (oops, did Umeme not tell you that using candles in the night is romantic).
Social media marketing and sales as well as customer handling can help avert many things.  You do not lose customers like me who has a rule of I will never be put on hold for more than 5 minutes.  The companies which care about service run daily, weekly or monthly reports to see the number of dropped calls.  Then they look at the amount of time the person was put on hold and then they adjust their staffing to minimize the dropped calls.  Meanwhile, if they have a team on social media, this is all fluff.  That team is dedicated to responding promptly and usually they work in shifts (rotation) and voila!
Social media usage does not consume a lot of power off the phones that many Ugandans use.  Imagine if they were to surf your website for what they need or in my case if Ugandans were to scan for news themselves and read all the websites, their phone battery would die very quickly and they would run out of MBs.  FBzero and Whatsapp minimize this problem in that they are apps which do not consume a lot of power.  The former is free so no worries about MBs and the latter uses compressed data such that the MBs can last longer.
Customer response is one of the biggest ways to grow your business and retain current customers.  I had one experience with a bank where I emailed transferred money to myself to deposit into my other bank account.  Think of email transfer like mobile money (we do not have this in Canada).   Usually it takes about 30 mins for an email transfer to hit my email for me to click and put in my other account.
Six hours later, no money.  One day later, no money.  I called the customer support and was put on hold.  By this time I am getting livid because the money had left my other account but I had not received it.  I looked up their page on Facebook, left a message “hey, this is Martha Leah, I did a transaction yesterday and my money is missing”.  Promptly about 5mins later, a nice lady replies, “let me check into it”.  Shortly after that, I had my money.
Having sent an email to the ContactUs and it was not replied promptly, then calling and being put on hold as if our lives depend on hearing the boring music being played while on hold, I resorted to social media.
The other thing is for social media, no company wants to be massacred.  People can do this very seriously.  One bad experience and they will trash your company on social media like there is no tomorrow.  So please maintain a good presence on social media because it can lead to increased sales and market growth.  Do not forget that for every customer you lose, you lose a minimum of 6.  WORD of mouth is the most forgotten marketing tool.  Every customer you lose will tell someone about their bad experience and then that person will tell someone else.
Every customer you retain and maintain will tell a minimum of 6 people.  If you keep this in mind and the speed at which information circulates on social media, you will grow your sales while the competition laments.
Information you could use.
Martha Leah Nangalama
Moncton, Canada
Whatsapp +15068716371
I have an IT and business background coupled with many years on social media.

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