Guest Post by Alex Muriu
Just 7 years ago, Web content platforms such as Nigeria’s irokoTV, South Africa’s YuppieChef and Kenya’s Cheki did not exist.
As we speak, they are all market leaders in their respective categories. In 2013, irokoTV received $8 Million from Billionaire VC Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global Management. Analysts estimate irokoTV’s current worth at $30 Million. YuppieChef has grown to become South Africa’s leading eCommerce website with an estimated $8 Million in revenues. With businesses in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, Cheki’s Tanzanian operations were planned to launch by the end of 2013, and the recent $20 Million in funding from Australia’s SEEK will see them expand to the rest of Africa.
These are only three of a plethora of content websites that are emerging to serve Africa’s 170 Million internet users, a number expected to grow to 355 Million by 2015 at the current rate.
The Revolution has just Began
The Good news is that as internet penetration grows, new opportunities arise for new Content creators to sprout. Nigeria and South Africa currently boast Africa’s leading content websites, a factor attributed to their vast internet usage numbers. But they are just two out of 57 countries.
If the growth of iROKOTV and its Nollywood content base is to teach us anything, it’s that African countries need to take advantage of the richness of their local content. From Visual Crafts, to Poetry, to Story telling to Contemporary music, so much opportunity abounds.
We must also think beyond local consumption. Buni TV has merged Puppetry and Political Satire into a content channel that derives 40% of its traffic from the US and the UK. Tinga Tinga tales, the animated children stories based on African folk tales as amassed a cult following in the UK, making its way to the Disney Channel.
Understanding the African Consumer
Andrew Smith, Yuppiechef’s co-founder has consistently stated in Media interviews that their phenomenal growth is majorly attributed to their Customer Service standards. Unlike in Brick and Mortar businesses, you rarely get to see the customer. The rules of Customer Service however do not change.
Learn your audience’s purchasing or browsing behaviors, take every comment and feedback to heart and most of all, make every Customer feel understood and appreciated. No one likes to feel like one among millions.
Given the nascent nature of the Internet in Africa, there is a lot of learning to be done by both content creators and consumers. The trick is to keep learning and improving experiences faster than the Consumer.
Focus on Quality
I once had the pleasure of picking Cheki Founder, Carey Eaton’s mind. He revealed how unlike other Classifieds websites which rely purely on user generated content for growth, he has personally visited every single town in Kenya talking to Car Dealers, signing them up and helping them post their cars onto Cheki.com. He did not have to do that but he believed it would make all the difference. It has.
The average African Internet user comes from the Burgeoning middle class, one that has grown up consuming foreign content and knows the difference between a good video and a crappy one, and can tell an accurate entertainment review website from a cheap gossip blog.
Finally, the Money
For every successful website you see out there, there are hundreds that started and couldn’t make the cut. Like any sensible businessman will tell you, it’s not about the Money. It’s about identifying a content gap and filling that gap with content so good that your users wonder where you’ve been all their lives. Focus on getting your first 1000 happy and satisfied subscribers. The Money will come knocking.
Alex Muriu is a Digital Marketing Consultant, Blogger and Tech Entrepreneur based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow his thoughts at http://muriu.me.