TikTok, Facebook Money and Why Your Brand Needs to be Managed by a Comedian

Ki Kati and Hello,

Thank you to everyone who has nudged for the return of The Letter N. Since our last update months ago, this newsletter went on hiatus and is returning to bi-monthly frequency.

I frequently mention names (Sam, Joy, Everlyne, Andrew in the last 2 weeks and +20 people over the last months ask about where this newsletter went.) I’m glad to announce its return. I also have help at Nendo with the newsletter and that’s always a major relief.

An Update on Nendo’s Advisory, Academy and Agency Work

My team and I at Nendo have been busy. We’ve continually developed our access to tens of millions of social media updates from Africans online. We continue our relentless pursuit to analyse public data as part of our Advisory work. I’m proud of my team for pushing boundaries in this area and getting to greater and more complex assignments. Our data-driven research, strategic planning, and trend analysis work since our landmark report on the State of Mobile Data 2019 report continues to develop.

We’ve matured our Agency offering through delivering dollar-for-dollar return on investment and business growth. Not to harp on it, but our creative output and quality of delivery for client projects have had us quiet but more excited to take our formula to bigger brands and projects as we grow. Our work in Instagram Stories, for example, has been something I’ve been recently excited by as we use that medium to drive key outcomes for clients.

If you’re keen to have us speak to your HR department about customised training and masterclasses in digital or want to see our programs and outlines, you can email Annabelle about this.

Early this July, my team and I welcomed +20 companies to The Social Truth at Nairobi’s Capital Club. There, in the company of our South African partner YouKnow, we launched Brandwatch into the local market. As Brandwatch merges with Crimson Hexagon and acquires companies like Qriously and others, we’re glad to be among the foremost experts in Sub Saharan Africa of the digital customer intelligence platform.

If this is your first newsletter, welcome aboard our ‘tasting menu’ of links, served to you for your insight and professional development. You can always write me back by hitting reply to this email if you have any questions or feedback.

That said, prepare your browser tabs for the feast below.

What to Sip < 30 sec

As many of us may already have suspected, Generation Z is increasingly disinterested in Facebook and is instead moving more toward Snapchat and Instagram. While this article may give a number of marketers mild anxiety, it prompts important questions on today’s internet audiences. The main question from this is, ‘Is Facebook still relevant?’ If not, what does this mean for brands that still use it as the main promotion platform?

I’ve been a huge fan of Taylor Lorenz over the years. Her ‘beat’ at the Atlantic writing about cyber culture means that I read pretty much everything she writes. One of the pieces that echo what my team and I have held on social networks is in reference to the rise of TikTok. Her piece looks at how the only remaining section of people not engaging with the short-video social network is brand marketers.

I’m happy to squeeze in a plug for Kali Media’s newsletter and their podcast. Paula Rogo, the founder, had a brilliant series with women entrepreneurs, change-makers, academics and creatives called I don’t know what I’m doing. I love the production values and learned a fair bit in the process from great guests.

If you're interested in a one-hour long listen, you can catch a conversation between author Nanjala Nyabola and Christine Mungai (a fellow subscriber) here on SoundCloud.

What to Nibble < 5 min

Andile Masuku (a newsletter subscriber) blessed us with a BBC article with words from crypto/blockchain blogger and Twitter ‘thread’ writer of note, Michael Kimani.    

Facebook intends to let its users - most of whom are in Africa - make digital payments through WhatsApp using a new crypto-currency called Libra. Andile highlights the debate on whether cryptocurrency is a viable option for money transfer within Africa in light of risks such as hackers, money-laundering and government internet blackouts.

However, we have a few questions. First, do we need yet another global currency and if we do, do we really need it from Facebook? What happens to M-Pesa? Why is Zuckerberg so obsessed with creating systems for Africa? Finally and most importantly, knowing Facebook’s dubious track record, what is the greater intention? Read all about it.

What to Bite <10 min

You may all be aware of the recent crisis in Sudan and how the world rose to show support. In Taylor Lorenz’ article, she explains how a popular account known as SudanMealPlan took the opportunity to spread misinformation and cause more harm than good.

What we take away is the extent to which we live in a world of fake news and clout chasing. The ability to go viral can easily be taken advantage of. We are forced to reflect on the much bigger debate of internet policing and the responsibility that platforms like Instagram have to be a gatekeeper against hate and propaganda.

Odipo Dev released an article highlighting the problem of fake engagement from Kenyan influencers. Ad fraud is real overseas and the local conclusions that their team put together make for compelling reading, though I’d be interested to interrogate the methodology. I have reservations on the full list of most popular influencers, but as long-time collaborators, I will always plug partners and allies who push the conversation and the needle forward.

On the same note, this 16 minute read shows how YouTube’s rabbit hole led an American youth to far-right extremism. Writer Kevin Roose takes the time to show us a disturbing timeline of the 26-year old’s viewer history and all we can say is, it has become more urgent than ever to exercise caution in what we expose ourselves (and our children) to.

If you’re in the digital space in Kenya, you probably know about KCB Bank’s unique way of communicating. But do you know the theory behind it? This article shows the history of brand personification on Twitter and basically tells you that in order to connect with today’s culture, you need to be a comedian (and a good one at that).

While many brands still prefer the safe method of posting ‘holiday cards and product shots’, more adventurous companies are considering the riskier, avant-garde approach of entertaining the audience. Of course, this often needs a millennial eye and someone well versed in the art of the Twitter feuds and clapping-back. Otherwise, you risk failing as epically as The Gap clothing store.

Bottom of the Newsletter

If you want to do forensics and website investigation, this new kit from Tactical Tech Collective should help you. For example, here’s how to do “Google Dorking” which is a way of using search engines to find information that’s hard to find with regular Google.

An 8-minute video on How to ride a backwards brain bicycle (when you turn left, it goes right and vice versa). It is one of my favourite videos on the difference between knowledge and understanding.

A video that YouTube kept recommending for months was “Why are there 96,000,000 Black Balls in this Reservoir.” The video was such a rip-roaring success that the vlogger who shot it created another video on how the YouTube algorithm works -  worth a watch. Here’s his explanation on what it takes to be and stay viral in 2019.

For more information on the digital trends, specifically in Kenya, access our full 56-page report on the State of Mobile Data 2019 or better yet, set up a meeting to discuss it with us by writing me back.

We have taken on several opportunities to do paid gigs to unpack the report, especially in light of the ban on sports betting firms in Kenya.

Until next time,

Mark and Team Nendo.

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