New re­search quan­ti­fies the value of for African busi­nesses.

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY - Si­mon Din­gle

In re­cent weeks Fin­week has com­mit­ted space to ex­plor­ing the value of on­line so­cial net­work­ing for busi­ness. It’s a field of ac­tiv­ity that doesn’t al­ways have a clear re­turn on in­vest­ment and can oc­cupy a lot of time and en­ergy – es­pe­cially for small- to medium-sized com­pa­nies with a lot on their plates. New re­search un­der­scores the im­por­tance of ef­fec­tive so­cial net­work­ing for busi­ness, how­ever, and quan­ti­fies the ben­e­fits. The bot­tom line: you can’t af­ford not to have a plan for your busi­ness to en­gage on­line.

The So­cial Busi­ness Africa Re­port – a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort be­tween com­mu­ni­ca­tions firm Cere­bra and re­search com­pany Fuse­ware – com­pre­hen­sively stud­ied the so­cial en­gage­ment of busi­nesses in Africa and con­cluded that an ef­fec­tive so­cial net­work­ing strat­egy cor­re­lates with a 53% bump in rev­enue. Com­pa­nies on the con­ti­nent ded­i­cated to so­cial net­work­ing earn 63% more rev­enue, on aver­age, than “non-so­cial” com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to the re­search.

The study also re­vealed num­bers for as­so­ci­ated in­dus­tries. For ex­am­ple, smart­phones are out­selling com­put­ers by four to one across Africa. In­ter­net speeds are also in­creas­ing, cor­re­lated with a 1.3% growth in econ­omy for ev­ery 10% im­prove­ment.

Mike Stop­forth, CEO of Cere­bra, told Fin­week that the re­search pro­ject was born from con­ver­sa­tions that his firm had with its blue-chip clients on the con­ti­nent.

“[It] quickly evolved into a mam­moth pro­ject – one that we hope will change the way the busi­ness world sees Africa, and more specif­i­cally, how great African com­pa­nies use so­cial me­dia and so­cial busi­ness prin­ci­ples to bet­ter en­gage cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees,” he said.

The re­port over­views the top com­pa­nies in Africa in this re­gard and out­lines their ac­tiv­ity on so­cial net­works, with an in­depth study of what South African tele­coms gi­ant Vo­da­com has achieved in this de­part- ment, for ex­am­ple.

It also re­veals some in­ter­est­ing statis­tics – that Egypt leads the con­ti­nent in terms of Face­book and YouTube users, for ex­am­ple. South Africa is sec­ond and third re­spec­tively. SA has more Twit­ter users than any other African coun­try, fol­lowed by Kenya and then Nige­ria. The top so­cial brand in Africa is Egyp­tian mo­bile phone op­er­a­tor Mobinil, fol­lowed by Kenya’s Sa­fari­com and then MTN Nige­ria. The SABC is in fifth place, helped along by its sub­sidiary ra­dio sta­tion 5FM with DJs that have sub­stan­tial so­cial fol­low­ings.

Said Stop­forth: “We have known for many years that the im­pact of so­cial me­dia on busi­ness is be­ing felt at ev­ery level of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and in ev­ery in­dus­try ver­ti­cal, and now we have the data to back up our the­o­ries. The re­port is clear – com­pa­nies that un­der­stand the so­cial im­per­a­tive be­hind the cor­po­rate fire­wall are suc­ceed­ing as so­cial brands.”

You might be pon­der­ing the value of so­cial net­work­ing, but it’s now clear that your busi­ness can’t af­ford not to be ad­dress­ing it con­sciously.

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