Kenyan SMEs and Social Media Ads


It is no secret that digital advertising has become an essential part of most marketing campaigns. Statistics show that at the forefront of digital advertising in Kenya are social media ads.

According to a Dotsavvy statistical report done, the leading social media platform in Kenya is Facebook with approximately 5 million users. This comes as no surprise as the platform caters to all sorts of demographics. The second in line is Instagram with an approximate of about 3 million users in Kenya. However, the platform is quickly gaining further traction due to the fact that brands are able to run Instagram ads through the Facebook dashboard. This has enabled some conversion of Facebook users to Instagram. The third most popular platform is twitter with about 1.7 million users. It is mainly used when brands have to get their message out there on a regular basis and in a concise format. However, it is not as popular as the above two as it only deals with ‘tweets’ and only caters to certain demographics i.e. young and tech-savvy. Lastly, we have LinkedIn; a platform mainly used by professionals and is therefore mainly skewed to business matters. The platform has approximately 1.3 million users according to the report and this is mainly due to its niche target audience. The above platforms have gained the most popularity with users around the country but that’s not to say other platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat do not have a growing user base.


Brand and Social Media 

Marketing and Strategy

However, before a brand can invest in social media and create a social media advertising strategy, it is important for them to first understand exactly what social media ads are. Simply put, social media ads are any paid content on the various social media networks. There are multiple options such as a one-off promoted post on Twitter or Facebook to a full-blown campaign that can run for weeks or even months. The main factors to consider are normally the type of campaign you plan to run, the impact expected i.e. the reach and the budget set aside. Campaigns can also be run simultaneously across all social media platforms or single-handedly on one.


Social Media Ads

There are various ways to ensure that social media ads are successful. Firstly, use free social media to run a beta-test on your social ads. As a brand, it is highly likely that you are posting content on the different platforms. Therefore, look at the posts that resonate with your audience as well as those that get the most clicks and use them as benchmarks. The high performing ones will make great candidates for social media ads.

Secondly, take advantage of targeting features enabled on various social platforms. Unlike traditional ads, these features allow you to target your social ads to certain demographics as well as geo-target our audience. This will allow more efficiency in advertising.

Thirdly, whilst designing your social ads, keep mobile users in mind. For example, in Kenya, smartphone adoption has been on a rapid increase in the market. According to PwC, high-speed mobile internet connections are expected to rise to 84.9% Compound Annual Growth Rate while subscribers numbers are set to double to 33 million by 2021. Therefore, when designing for small screens, mobile ads should be specifically be designed for small screens, incorporating image viewable on pocket-sized devices.

Lastly, before settling on one platform, understand how ads are sold on the various platforms. Decide on whether you are designing an ad campaign based on impression or engagement. This will also help you determine your budget. Ads based on impressions i.e. paying every time someone sees your ad, allow for a wider budget and flexibility depending on your reach. However, ads based on engagement allow for a set budget as you are only paying for it to reach your targeted audience i.e. people willing to do business with you.



There is a reason why social media ads are mainly preferred by brands as compared to the traditional ads. Simply because social ads have very many advantages to a brand, some of which trump traditional ads. Social ads are an inexpensive way to promote your business and distribute content. They also offer powerful targeting options so that you can reach the right audience. For example, if you run an ad campaign on LinkedIn, you can segment by things like location, company, job title, gender, and age, the list goes on. If you’re running a Facebook ad, you can target based on location, demographics, interests, behaviours, and connections. You can track and measure the performance of your social ads in real time. The amount of money used to do this is normally a fraction of the traditional ads such as billboards and it gives you an added advantage of real-time feedback.

Secondly, social media ads allow you to gain valuable customer insights as each ad generates a huge amount of data about your customers in real time. Through active engagement from your ad, you can gather relevant data and use that to make smarter business decisions.

Following this, social media ads also allow you to increase website traffic. Social ads allow for you to direct people to your websites. Therefore, a number of clicks you get on the ad can replicate the same on your website.

Lastly, social media allows for brands to share content faster and easier. As compared to traditional forms of advertising such as billboards and TV ads, social media ads can be posted immediately on the various platforms. This ideal for brands that may need to get their ‘news’ out to their clients or potentials as soon as possible e.g. when the brand is having a competition or perhaps they are having a store relocation.

In conclusion, social media platforms can be described as enablers of a fundamental marketing strategy shift in how brands and customers relate to each other. Therefore, the main question every brand should ask themselves is not whether or not to invest in social media ads but instead which platform should they invest in to get the best ROI?

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