Kenya Airways: A trailblazer in Kenya’s Social Media World?
As I was doing some research on Brand Kenya I stumbled across some interesting information. According to a study by SBO Research, Kenya Airways was identified by Kenyans as one of the main drivers of the country’s image with a 50 percent approval rating. Kenya Airways (or “KQ” as it is popularly known) is the leading airline of Kenya, it started its operations in 1977 and today has scheduled flights to a number of destinations in Africa, Asia, and a handful of countries in Europe.
As stated in a study conducted by TNS Technology and the Kenya ICT Board (2010), the web is very important to Kenyan users, outstripping the level of importance in other countries such as China, Japan and Korea. So I was surprised to find out that, although companies in Kenya should be reaching out to these web enthusiasts, only a few are using social media. It turns out, Kenya Airways is just one of three companies listed in the Nairobi stock exchange with a twitter page, the other two being media houses. Kenya Airways also has a Facebook Fan Page and a YouTube channel that contains the monthly series of their Msafiri’s TV infotainment. When talking about Kenya Airways and social media, Moses Kemibaro, a digital services professional based in Nairobi, Kenya, explains:
“This is quite encouraging to see since many BIG Kenyan brands tend to be very wary of social media as it is quite informal, demands responsiveness and means exposing a brand to negative attacks when things aren’t going so well. Hopefully, KQ is just the first of many of our large and small Kenyan brands that will jump into social media game.”
What can other Kenyan brands learn from Kenya Airways’ social media efforts?
Engaging the online audience
Marvin Tumbo, a social media consultant, wrote a blog titled Twitter for Kenyan Businesses stating that:
“As a business, if you have something to communicate, Twitter should become central to your communication strategies. And communication is not just one way. If there is something that you will have to learn is that the more you engage, the better you will be received.”
In the case of Kenya Airways, not only is the Airline responding to people’s tweets, they are taking the initiative to follow others, creating a stronger relationship with Twitter users. Most of the company’s postings are about general company news, products, flight delays, and promotion efforts that are targeted to consumers. The Airlines’ vast number of fans on Facebook (8,007) and Twitter (3,601) demonstrates that people in Kenya do want to engage with companies on social media networks.
Impressive social media integration with customer service.
It’s fair to say everyone has experienced terrible customer service. I know I have, call about your water bill and you’re pushed through numerous menus, half of which do not recognize your voice, and then a 30 min wait to get a customer service representative.
Kenyan Airways is solving client problems in real time through Twitter. This not only helps cut costs put provides customers with a more effective and efficient customer service which helps hinder negative word of mouth.
Consistency in branding across all their social media channels.
Kenya Airways’ social media channels have been carefully designed to exude its Kenyan roots and demonstrate its pride for being Kenyan. This is an example of their Twitter page:
The not so good.
Not as engaging on Facebook as they are on Twitter.
Although fans are active on the company Facebook page with constant “likes” and comments, in the past couple of months the Airline has no fan-initiated-post. This is an important factor because Facebook Fan pages have the unique ability of allowing the company’s online audience to initiate comments and present opinions in a single location. One of the key elements that I think is missing in Kenya Airways’ social media strategy is a more authentic and personal tone. This involves creating content that contributes to the community and helps them meet their needs as opposed to always providing content that is marketing or promotional in nature.
The online conversation is on-going and Kenya Airways’ online presence must be constant.
Kenya Airways’ last post on Facebook was a month ago. It is important to keep fans interested; if there is a lack of interaction they will look for it elsewhere.
In addition, Kenya Airways does not have a blog to interact with their customers. This is a shame because a blogs help companies closely manage the online conversation while they engage users in their own website. Currently you can’t even tell from their homepage that they actually have an active social media platform, there is no reference to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube in the website, at least that I could find.
In the next couple of years many companies in Kenya will be joining the social media bandwagon especially with the realization that a majority of their Kenyan customers are indeed very active online. It seems shortsighted to refuse to embrace technology and especially social media, because it gives companies a chance to engage and increase brand loyalty.