Social media icons as seen on a smartphone's interface. Uganda on Tuesday ordered its telcos to shut down social media and messaging services with political temperatures rising ahead of the presidential election on Thursday.

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow safe is a brand from online assassination or can a quiet brand match competitors with huge online presence?

Brand marketing in Kenya has evolved over the years from over reliance on traditional media. Companies are now carving out innovative ways to market their brands, headlined by the emergence of social media as a wild card.

Conservatism does not make the cut the cut these days, in contrast a little arrogance, a little fun and technology savviness does.

Major brands in the country have overhauled their communications strategy and incorporated engaging social media policy to woo more customers and retain their customer base.

The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) is the epitome of a corporate that has moved with time. The lender’s twitter handle is now synonymous with banter, constantly taking a swipe at competitors.

KCB, Kenya’s largest bank by assets generated a light moment last week when it cheekily took a swipe at the country’s third largest bank, Co-operative Bank of Kenya when it posted a “greeting to Co-op since no one ever says hi to them’

https://twitter.com/KCBGroup/status/1109303758784073728

Co-op did not take it lying down and its rejoinder was as ‘hard hitting’ as it gets.

The savvyness is not exclusive to the banks, other sectors have joined the frenzy as well.

Naivas Supermarkets and KFC, among other companies, have also been sucked into the online frenzy but are not as cheeky as KCB.

However there is also the dark side of social media.

Social media is unregulated; users can post what they want, sometimes blowing the whistle on something or sometimes posting information that is unverified.

Nuteez peanut butter and Always sanitary pads are examples of brands that have been assassinated online even before the manufacturers got a fair chance to reply.

https://twitter.com/WanjuhiNjiiri/status/1105775605600210946

While the issues raised against the two brands were too weighty to be ignored- Nuteez (contamination with aflotoxin) and Always (sub-standard sanitary towels in the Kenyan market), it was only right that the manufacturers address the issues raised by Kenyans before Kenyans formed a perception about the brands.

While Nuteez and Always did not get ahead of the narrative, a reply to activist Boniface Mwangi by AAR Insurance rubbed Kenyans the wrong way when it was deemed that the company did not address the issues raised but instead went on the offensive.

Mwangi, who boasts of a huge following on social media had narrated his experience with the insurance company when he was seeking medical treatment.

The company deployed its communication team to give its side of the story via the hashtag #AARInsuaranceFacts, which was probably a mistake because the damage was already done as other Kenyans joined the conversations giving their own accounts of dealings with the insurer.

[Read: Kenya joins hunt for HIV vaccine]

In the end, Mwangi lodged a complaint with the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) and his hospital bill was finally settled.

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