We’ve come a long way since the days of VoK (Voice of Kenya) TV and radio broadcasting where government literally controlled the media we consumed. Today we have over 300 TV channels available and even though our viewers are spoilt for choice, advertisers have the toughest job navigating the fragmented media landscape in order to create meaningful connections with audiences.
The journey has been a story not lacking in legend as visionaries built media companies that leveraged on the growing economy, increased access to electricity and liberalization of the media in 1990. The surge of vernacular radio stations was a defining point in our media history and the uptake of local content on TV was like nothing we’ve ever seen before. During the days of Vitimbi and Vioja Mahakamani we were fooled into thinking that Kenyans didn’t enjoy local drama and comedy as much as they enjoyed watching the news because news had the highest ratings.
The new generation of local dramas such as Papa Shirandula and Tahidi High were instant hits and changed the paradigm because Citizen TV’s boss Wachira Waruru had an insight into what viewers wanted to watch, and he developed what came to be known as the entertainment corridor. That insight also led to the creation of successful vernacular radio stations that took the country by storm and other media houses also joined in the fray. In the advent of a booming media landscape stars were born and a new set of celebrities came to light — celebrities who were able to voice societies hopes, dreams and fears and drive a following of ardent fans.
Despite audience ratings going through the roof and advertisers getting great ROI (return-on-investment) from their media spends, there were still questions about how salient the radio advertising was from the perspective of creativity rather than audience reach. That was when ad agencies began to experiment with content co-creation. Co-creation refers to the process of developing advertising by combining the creativity of both the agencies art department and the media personalities. It makes even more sense to run co-creation initiatives because most of the advertising is written and approved in English and then translated into the Kishwahili and the vernacular languages, and its a no-brainer that most of the meaning is lost in translation. Co-creation has led to the development of language based advertising and radio presenter interaction that connected brilliantly with audiences and drove up brand equity.
Interactive advertising and social media marketing can certainly borrow a leaf from traditional advertising when it comes to dealing with a fragmented media scene and multiple consumer segments that are very distinct from one another. For example, a Coke consumer in a golf club is interested in different content from the Coke consumer in a roadside kiosk in industrial area, so it makes it extremely difficult to create content that all groups of consumers can appreciate and serve it on one channel. You will appeal to one group and not to the others and the language used would be lost to some.
Therefore it is necessary to take the co-creation route so that the celebrities and influencers among specific consumer groups are part of the process in content creation. They would also use social media channels that allow their audiences to be one with the group and to feel confident when interacting and sharing their thoughts and ideas, rather than feel alienated. The traditional media experience indicates how to deal with highly fragmented audiences, through creating multiple channels and delivering content that appeals to each group through language, personalities, storytelling and capturing current social themes.
Just as it was when Royal Media Services took a gamble by investing in local dramas and vernacular stations when the majority thought that they wouldn’t work, it will take a certain level of risk to change the way social media marketing is done and to put significant budgets behind it. The initiatives are justified by the growth of internet access in Kenya which is only second to radio when it comes to audience reach, the growing number of connected devices available as well as increased access to electricity across the country.
When generating content for online marketing it’s critical to review the successes of traditional media and derive an understanding of building meaningful connections with your audiences in ways that are relevant to your brand. Some of the best performing radio ads have been developed through the co-creation principle, and this technique can easily be incorporated into interactive advertising and social media marketing.