That's hello in Bemba from Zambia. Welcome to the first newsletter of 2018. It has been a whirlwind year for the team and me so far.
On the 18th this January, I excitedly turned thirty in Lagos. As fate would have it, my hotel room was on the 3rd floor (shorthand for the 30s). At Nendo, we've begun some new work with the BBC and Lagos was our first stop.
We worked with two dozen radio stations seeking digital growth . Their listeners and audiences spanned across Nigeria. This February, we'll train over 30 senior leaders from radio stations in Kenya and Tanzania.
My maiden trip to Nigeria was intense and worth it, I can't wait to return. I will admit I am smitten by Nigerian fashion. After getting used to the spice, I put my life at risk confessing that Nigerian jollof rice is better than Ghanaian and Senegalese variants.
It has been almost a month since I wrote a newsletter. A reader (that shall remain unnamed) wrote me a terse reminder last night:
“You can do a better job with the newsletter by getting it back into our inboxes.”
I will file that with the rest of The Letter N testimonials (if you enjoy the newsletter and haven't sent in a written testimonial, please do - even replying to this email works. They matter).
Thanks to every one of you who filled in our newsletter survey over the holidays. We need the constructive criticism and feedback.
Donate 5 minutes to me if you haven't filled it in already.
One surprising insight I learnt is that half of your fellow surveyed readers don't care the day or time the newsletter comes in - just as long as you receive it.
There's no underestimating how seismic the changes Facebook has made over the last month. I wrote months back of world where Facebook became purely paid media and we're now on course. After the tests in Slovakia that we wrote of in a previous newsletter, 2018 is the year nothing stays the same.
The words from CEO Mark Zuckerberg were abstract.
The official Facebook newsroom announcement, less so.
Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses...
Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution...
Using “engagement-bait” to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.
Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook.
One thing that isn't written, but is visible if you watch the video is that they expect time spent on Facebook to go down. What does this mean? It depends.
If you're a publisher, you should immediately start to tell people that they need to click “See First” on Facebook to be sure they get your content. Nobody is spared. No, not even The Economist.
I should add that this “See First” recommendation to your audience could backfireon your audience if you post too many times. You might fatigue your audience so this isn't for everyone.
In October of last year, I discussed this and its challenges last year in my YouTube video Is the Content Calendar Dead? video (13-minute video).
This is good for influencers, though. They potentially count as “friends and family” in this equation, depending on how you look at it. If they capitalise this will be a defining year. But not for Kenya if we continue the lack of trust and the poisoned well that is the way that influencer marketing takes place now.
Strong words? That's the 2018 palate cleanser. Prepare your digital taste buds and browser tabs for this week's tasting menu of links.
Matt Mayberry's quote (in the image above) comes from Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can't you put it down?
He works at Dopamine Labs who list Kenya's #1 finance & mobile lending app, Tala, as a client. They have a case study on their site showing how their tools led to a 14% increase in users repaying their loans.
Matt's quote and its premise are problematic - ethics and mental health notwithstanding. Despite the quoted reference being refuted by Instagram but is worth pausing to take in. This may not be what Instagram does, but it is possible.
In the spirit of giving you something to do, I'll send you somewhere you can take learn and make up your mind. Visit Time Well Spent's problem statement page. The organisation is a movement by former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris who I've featured for his TED talk in a previous newsletter.
I'm looking forward to the National Day of Unplugging on March 9th, 2018 from sundown to sundown March 10th. For 24 hours, you put your phone in a 'sleeping bag' and you can do it with your partner, spouse, kids and loved ones. I'm considering hosting an event, so let me know if you'd be interested in taking part (or co-hosting).
Buffer's State of Social 2018 survey has some good insights where they expound on a survey with 1,700 marketers:
The New York Times' published an immersive and gripping exposé into the world of fake online identities. Athletes, celebrities, politicians, entertainers - you name it. They have fake followers as part of their numbers. Firms pay people to create tens of thousands of false digital identities that are sold wholesale to provide likes, retweets, follows and more.
This practice is social media fraud. The NYT piece estimates that with 3.5 million automated accounts (bots) a company in the US has provided customers with over 200 million Twitter followers. Imagine someone takes your bio, photo, first name, last name and begins to retweet “cryptocurrency, hawk Canadian real estate investments, amplify a radio station in Ghana, tweet in Arabic & Indonesian and share graphic pornography.”
They steal real identities of real people, including minors. This digital identity theft is part of what led to the announcement that the New York Attorney General announced that his office had opened an investigation into the firm behind it.
We've been studying online media manipulation for quite some time now and one of the things I appreciate about this article is the painstaking detail of exploring the various terms (there are good bots and bad bots). It is worth the read.
I called this in 2013/2014 in Nendo's inaugural trend report. Our concern was the lack of transparency with the tweets that cost Ksh. 30,000 ($300) per tweet. We're now at Ksh. 1 per tweet ($0.01).
And yet, given what Facebook's doing (above), influencer marketing can only go up. But I stand by my words that most influencers can double their rate cards by focusing on trust and disclosure to their audiences.
We're excited to have begun a partnership with YouKnow, the exclusive African partner of Crimson Hexagon, one of the world's leading social media analytics tools.
We're building some great localised solutions to complement Crimson and impact the region. We've signed on our first client and look to do and announce more in the months to come.
I am thrilled to see the opportunities on our plate to transform the continent this year (December and January have seen us and our work touch Washington DC, Kigali, Garoowe and Lagos).
It starts with putting a great team together. We're wrapping up the recruitment process which we'd extended, so if you know someone who needs to see it they'd need to apply by end of this week. Midnight on the 4th of February.
If you like this newsletter and fancy throwing your hat in the ring to work alongside us for something that's not listed above, that's always on the table. Hitting reply or reaching me at email@example.com is the place to introduce yourself and let us know how you'd fit in.
I am a Typophile (a lover of typography) and one of the things that really made me smile is a story of how in April 1977, UK newspaper The Guardian ran a curious 7-page travel feature. The focus? The island of San Seriffe, complete with politics, history, maps, travel and tours. It even had tailored advertisements from top brands like Kodak, After Eight and Guinness.
It was a success. The Guardian's switchboard rang off the hook with travel agents and people keen to book holidays in the magical destination. There was only one thing, the Indian Ocean island didn't exist and was one of the most elaborate April Fool's jokes ever printed. If you like typefaces, there's so many quips, puns and hidden gems in this 8-minute read on Medium.
We've added plenty of new subscribers and if you're looking to share this newsletter you can ask people to subscribe here and view the archive of past newsletters here. Did you know you can interact and comment on this newsletter, known as The Letter N across the web? My team and I syndicate it across our Blog, Facebook and my LinkedIn.
Please spread the word about our openings by clicking here to have an automatically composed tweet come up. It would mean a lot to me.
You can always hit reply to this email to reach me directly and spark a conversation. My thanks to those of you that do.
Yours,Mark & Team NendoP.S. What would I like for my birthday? I'm glad you asked. It already has my name on/in it.
Since September, we've released a total of 9 videos on Our YouTube channel Digital Africa with Mark Kaigwa. Our most recent one will help you learn and discover what the Top 10 Smartphones in Kenya are (spoiler alert - two Chinese juggernauts dominate the list).
In the coming weeks, you'll see an explainer video to accompany the Top 10 list (it is our shortest video yet) and Tanzania's most visited websites. Subscribe!
Join over 1,500 readers of The Letter N who get a tasting menu of links curated & commentated on by Founder Mark Kaigwa each week.