Why is twitter not a hit with Kenyan corporates?

Kenya Airways was one of the first Kenyan companies to open twitter accounts, its account was even verified. Soon, other bigger companies like DSTv realized the benefit of the forum and set up accounts.

It was nice to see Kenya Airways responding to questions on twitter and doing their usual marketing stuff. DSTv took a bit of a laid back approach but its presence meant that bigger brands were seizing online opportunities.

But that has changed, Kenya Airways is no longer updating or responding to questions and DSTv preferred to close its Kenya accounts and operate under its South African arm.

So, what is the problem, why can’t big companies sustain their twitter presence? Here are some of the reasons:

Cost; big companies hire Public Relations agencies to manage their external image, most likely, the cost becomes too much and the company thinks that it can hire an internal communications person to handle the account. In many cases, the communications person has other responsibilities and many not be an expert on engaging through twitter and how to turn online enquiries into sales.

The idea that people are not online; have you ever written an email asking about a product and the response comes a day or two later? Many companies have not appreciated the rising numbers of online communities. Its even harder to convince the company executives that there are many twitter users that would warrant professional services.

There is still a notion that more people want to visit offices and make enquiries than online, which is wrong. We can draw parallels from M-Pesa, people do not want to travel distances and wait in queues if the answer is a click away!

Honesty; what happens when an unhappy customer/client rants on twitter? In the case of Kenya Airways, the guys updating the account would always get to the root and update the person concerned; if the flight was cancelled, they would say and apologize. In some cases, the account was too honest, telling you all the things you know but the management would want to update.

Many companies see the need to “manage information” which is another word for being economic with the truth or massaging the truth. So, when you respond to an angry or pissed off person on twitter and say that we will do better next time, it might be seen as a sign of weakness, the management would probably like it if you kept quiet or made it look like its the fault of the person complaining, after all, we don’t like people who complain.

There maybe other reasons why giant corporates in Kenya have not embraced twitter but am hoping they will get back to their senses.