[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’
Co-op did not take it lying down and its rejoinder was as ‘hard hitting’ as it gets.
— Co-op Bank Kenya (@Coopbankenya) March 23, 2019
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.
Pay day inakaribia alafu accountant anaanza za ovyo ati ooh systems are down na kuna vitu unataka kununua zenye ziko kwa weekly offer. pic.twitter.com/SDirYVpJMc
— Naivas Supermarket (@naivas_kenya) March 27, 2019
Amidst the glitz and the glamour , there are couples that seem to always stand out (for good reasons obviously). Let’s see in the comments sections, your favourite celebrity couple. The comment with the most likes gets a pair of Krusher meal vouchers. pic.twitter.com/LzKKc1N2G4
— @kfcinkenya (@KFCinKenya) February 17, 2019
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.
— KenyanTraffic (@KenyanTraffic) January 31, 2019
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.
— AAR Insurance (@AAR_Insurance) March 25, 2019
Mwangi, who boasts of a huge following on social media had narrated his experience with the insurance company when he was seeking medical treatment.
What binds the medical insurance companies to do the right thing? Nothing. Profit is their “silent” oath.They have people specifically hired to write contracts that are hard for ordinary folks like you & me to understand,so that they can try to evade paying when you make a claim. pic.twitter.com/GiByirZxRP
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) March 25, 2019
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.
We have taken note of the public’s discussion on medical insurance. One of the Authority's functions is consumer protection. We request those with insurance complaints to contact IRA through [email protected]@bonifacemwangi @MarthaKarua @CofekRebranded @KenyasOmbudsman
— IRA Kenya (@ira_kenya) March 27, 2019