July 13, 2009
After researching numerous websites about social media in South Africa, two big movements are readily apparent: 1) the Brand South Africa campaign, and 2) interest in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I have never seen a similar branding campaign for a country before, so it was interesting to learn how the country is creating a unified, positive marketing movement for an entire country. A campaign of this nature will certainly help stabilize local marketing efforts, and plays an important role in the prevalence of World Cup news and information on many Websites. FIFA soccer is a huge event worldwide and puts everyone’s eyes on the host country, much like the Olympics do. By teaching South Africans to unify their overall message, and incorporate a bit of the soccer mania, the country is poised to become a center of attention, all while keeping focus on the offerings of South Africa. The Brand South Africa site even gives tips on how to take advantage of the coming World Cup. The Brand South Africa campaign as a whole delves deeper into social media with a full toolkit of Web 2.0 applications (picture at left), including videos, a Twitterfeed, Podcasts, Share buttons, and a blog. In terms of using social media to advance a brand, this whole campaign has overarching possibilities because if the country of South Africa as a whole is looked upon favorably, it follows that the companies and the economy should benefit as well. So in terms of social media being used advantageously, South Africa really took the use of new tools to a high level.
In addition to a nationwide branding campaign, the South Africans went a step further with an entire “series of campaigns aimed at mobilising South Africans to get involved in creating the country they want to live in” comprised of a “network of organisations that have come together to inspire and mobilise South Africans to become active citizens for good.” Known as the Movement for Good, this campaign provides tips on how all South Africans can help spread the good name of SA. Furthermore, within the Movement for Good, there is the Social Networking Platform For Good. On this Website, people can join the campaign and receive SMS messages providing details and information on how to take action to show South Africa in the best possible light. (SMS was the chosen medium of delivery because only 10% of South Africans have access to the Internet, while many citizens have mobile phones.)
Overall, this campaign is interesting because it allows the citizens to share their stories and thoughts about South Africa through the blog and by uploading videos and participating in social networks. Conversation is a cornerstone of social media and active participation from somebody other than a PR or marketing person is key to a successful campaign. But more interesting is that these campaigns are about an entire nation participating in social and traditional media. There is no blog of the United States like there is a blog for South Africa. Nor does the United States have a Facebook page. So in that regard, South Africa is using social media in one of the most interesting ways that I’ve ever seen—marketing the country, as a whole, as a unified brand. Though other countries have tried similar campaigns, South Africa’s approach is unique because of the social media implications and I will be curious to see if other nations follow suit.
July 12, 2009
The dark cloud of legal racial segregation has been lifted from South Africa as the country celebrates 15 years of democracy. The country has experienced a renaissance that has allowed South Africa to flourish economically, politically, and racially. An emerging black middle class has materialized; however, despite its success, the repenting model nation still remains divided.
A digital divide exists in most developing countries. South Africa is no exception. Presently, less than 10% of individuals are internet users and less than 400,000 households have broadband access. The lack of broadband has severely restricted South Africa’s online population. However, if South Africa plans to become a player on the world stage, it has to build a bridge and connect their population with the rest of the world.
The development of an a new undersea telecommunications cable will be the first step in connecting South Africa. This development will allow South Africa’s broadband to grow fivefold over the next five years as South Africa gets high-speed broadband internet access. The internet population is expected to double from 4.5 million to over 9 million by 2014.
The 2010 World Cup will provide the perfect stage for brands to more than market but truly engage with South Africans. Telkom, Africa’s largest integrated communications company and a signature partner of the World Cup, has already begun positioning themselves for internet growth. They have partnered with Microsoft for over five years to create state of the art computer resource centers known as “Digital Villages”. These centers have given schools and communities the ability to harness technology in order to develop computer skills. “This project provides another opportunity that brings South Africa a step closer to bridging the digital divide,” says Minister Frazer-Moleketi.
It would be beneficial for Mahindra Satyam, a World Cup sponsor, to adopt a strategy similar to Telkom and move beyond just being a sponsor but to create a strategy that will enable it to become an engaged partner. Presently, they are setting up and managing 240 self-help ticketing terminals in South Africa to distribute nearly four million tickets. However, this isn’t enough; they should actively connect with South Africans by donating computers and access to internet through townships, Citizen Post Offices, and internet cafés. This will align with their rebranding effort as corporate partner after the scandal that has plagued this India company. It won’t remove the dark cloud that exists with their accounting dilemma, but by becoming an entrenched partner, it will allow them to leverage an event with a critical social need to bridge the divide and a template to follow in India for redemption.
July 12, 2009
Having lived and worked on three continents (Africa, Europe and now North America) I think I know a thing or two about how relative norms can be. In the process of researching this week’s post, I could easily come to the conclusion that there is little to no point in trying to connect online with blacks in South Africa. The consensus seems to be that all bloggers are white products of privilege and all the blacks are using mobile phones, mostly to text.
The data supports those broad generalizations and to be honest, I’m not concerned with that. What I am concerned about for the purpose of this post is that ‘access’ to the internet is being discussed as synonymous with ‘computer at home.’ If the measure of access is a computer at home then absolutely, as a marketer I would probably not bother with the black population in South Africa. However, if the measure of access includes people who use the internet at work, at an internet cafe or on a mobile phone then I would sit up, take note and start strategizing on how I will connect my brand or product to the Black Diamond, the emerging and emerged black middle and upper class in South Africa.
- South Africa has an abundance of internet cafes, so many in fact that tourism site Why Go South Africa uses the stats as one of the key selling points, boasting:
South Africa is wired! The internet is everywhere here – well, almost everywhere – is decently fast and relatively cheap, and there are hundreds of internet cafes eager to bring it to you. Don’t ever pay more than R25/hour at an internet cafe! Chances are, the next one down the road is cheaper… Most have headsets for Skyping, and charge R15/hour or less.
- The majority of South Africans who regularly use the internet do so via mobile handsets, which makes sense since the nation has 10.5% population penetration for internet usage via a computer compared to over 98% mobile phone population penetration
- In Soweto for example, people even offer internet cafe services in their homes so what is counted as one household with ‘access’ to a computer could be something totally different in practice
- In 2006 mobile phone giant MTN, recognizing the demand for internet access in Soweto and the infrastructure limitations of providing access via fixed lines, leveraged its 3G and Edge wireless network to provide high speed internet access at a phone shop in Alexandria township, the first of its kind in the world
- The UNHCR recognizes South Africa as having high level of digital media freedom.
- Affordability and capacity is expected to increase significantly in South Africa with the Seacom undersea fiberoptic cable this year.
- South Africa is currently ranked fourth in Africa’s Top Ten of countries with people on the internet. That is fourth on a continent that has seen an increase in internet use growth of 1100% between 2000 to 2008 compared to 332.6% in the Rest of the World for the same period.
Don’t take my word for it, according to World Wide Worx,
South Africa’s internet population is expected to grow as much in the next five years as it has in the 15 years since the internet became commercially available in the country.
In my opinion, South Africans clearly want to be connected to the rest of the world – the mobile phone stats speak to that. Internet service providers have been limited by infrastructure and simply could not meet the demand or make access cost effective or attractive to the masses. I’m willing to bet that with the Seaweb project expected to increase available international bandwidth 30-fold, South Africa will be topping the charts for internet population penetration sooner rather than later. In the meantime just remember that in some places people go to cafes for everything but coffee!