Friday, 31 August 2012

Do tweets foster MNO growth in Africa?


Does social media work for Mobile Network Operators? Certainly, there are a ton of case-studies showing social media being a powerful force in business-to-consumer, with corporate teams scouring Facebook by the minute ready to respond to a customer tweeting about some minor outrage in a tea cup.  

IT News Africa has undertaken a study to see which MNOs have embraced the new channel to market, which begged the question whether there is a link between popularity in the Tweet-sphere and mobile subscriber take-up.

In the Top 10 poll compiled by the journal three countries stood out: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. So is it subscriber growth supported by social networking; or it is social networking fuelling subscriber growth?  

MTN Nigeria was top of the Twitter rankings – almost double its nearest competitor. Etisalat Nigeria held sixth spot. Strange that Etisalat, Airtel or Glo don’t appear in the Top 10.

Even stranger when you consider that Etisalat Misr in Egypt is ranked third in Africa – clearly some ‘best practice’ could be shared with other group members, given the task that Etisalat Nigeria has set itself in the next 18-months. The Egyptian MNO has seen what appears to be a significant uptake in 2012. Vodacom is not listed, but Mobinil is. Worth also remember that comments on Facebook and Twitter can be favourable - or they can be highly damning, with many a brave corporate being roasted alive.

In South Africa Vodacom was the lead tweeter. Given that the list so far has consisted of operators that are well-established, 8ta – Telkom’s relative recent entry into mature South African market – is in eighth slot. It comfortably beats fellow national MTN South Africa. It would therefore not be a surprise to find then that South Africa’s other remaining MNO Cell C is also in the Top 10.

Indeed Etisalat Misr and 8ta demonstrate how ‘young’ MNOs can build a sizable fan base amongst a younger audience. Given Branson’s original success at capturing the mobile youth market for his MVNO in the UK, it seems he might have missed a trick or two in South Africa. Further reading:  MVNOs in the Middle East & Africa, with more on the background to Virgin’s new partnership.

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