Businesses should dive into the digital sea

Rwanda last week finally completed the move from analogue to digital TV transmission as per the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

Rwanda last week finally completed the move from analogue to digital TV transmission as per the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union.

This in effect means that older TV sets will need a decoder to receive a signal if the owners are to watch their favourite TV programme.

The benefits of this move have already been exalted by different people. For instance, we now have about five TV stations in the country compared to just one over a year ago.

With more TV stations, we will certainly get better quality, thanks to increased competition away from the complacency borne of the monopoly that Rwanda Television enjoyed for years.

When it comes to the media in general, businesses also stand to benefit from embracing digital platforms than ever before. By digital, I am generally referring to the abundant opportunities that come with embracing the Internet.

This being 2014, it is almost banal trying to point out the merits of embracing the internet, but I will still do so. A few years back radio, TV and print media ruled the media landscape and then the internet happened and although it has not killed the other three, it has gone a long way in swallowing them and delivering slow death to some of them.

What we need to appreciate is that over the years, access to internet has increased even faster than access to the traditional media. Nothing has made this more possible than the supersonic growth of mobile phone use.

After the phones had spread to every corner, subscribers moved from holding just any phone to smart phones.

Smart phones that are in essence portable computers, and so much more, are now common and affordable that soon they will be the only phones available.

We have moved from the exclusive days when people held class-defining Blackberries and iPhones to the current era, where a lot of affordable brands like Tecno, Itel and Konka are on the market.

Therefore, any businessperson or company worth their salt should have realised that having a digital presence of some sort helps them remain competitive.

So, does your company have a website? Do you have (an active) Facebook page and a Twitter account? How about Google+, are you using it? Have you thought about having a Youtube account as well?

Remember Youtube is the second-biggest search engine after Google.

And speaking of search, what do you see when you try to do an ‘ego search’, where you enter your name or that of you company in Google to see what the world’s biggest search engine has got on you?

In case you did not ‘get the memo’, the numbers are moving towards digital platforms and you need to be there to tap into them, whether you are marketing something or handling a brand reputation issue.

I mentioned that traditional media is dead, but the truth is, if your company did something wrong, there could be a story and one letter from someone bitter in the newspaper.

However, there will be thousands of people sitting behind computers with Internet or Internet-enabled phones, dangerously nibbling away at your company’s reputation on Twitter or Facebook.

A company may have enough cash for ads to influence how traditional media reports about them, but the story can shift to social media with a more devastating effect.

 In most urban areas when people wake up, they reach for their phones to check their Facebook and Twitter accounts. So, if you are only thinking of traditional media, you are losing out on the eyes that have long gone digital.

If you have a budget for advertising some of it should be for digital advertising as this area continues to grow with the way we access the Internet these days.

If you are selling something, you should start thinking of how to do that online. I like that Rwandans can now order food online and pay using mobile money accounts.

 The writer is a journalist and social commentator on Rwandan and regional affairs


Twitter: @ssojo81