Content Marketing in Africa: Storytelling with appreciation of culture, history & future

As non-African brands continue to increase in popularity with African consumers, it is important to understand the culture of storytelling and how it can lead to successful content marketing campaigns.

Storytelling in Africa has existed since times of old. Long before reading and writing were even developed the ancient practice was not only used for preserving tradition, culture, and history but was also used for entertainment and information sharing. In the evenings, villagers would settle down around a fire to hear and listen to stories. The narration of the stories accompanied with singing, drumming, percussion instruments, clapping, and dancing (Achebe 1958). Fast forward 2020 a good story is still the best way to get people to pause and listen, Africa is no exception.

The latest Brand Africa 100 ranking shows that non-African brands top the ranking for the most admired brands on the continent. Brands from America, Europe and Asia telling their stories to an African audience cannot afford guess-work or apply cut-and-paste campaign tactics. We are learning to spam out distractions and all attempts clamouring for attention and notice. Millions budgeted on online ad campaigns will be blocked out by savvy consumers already bombarded with multiple data interactions received every day.

So, how do brands tell their stories to the audience and help them solve their problems?

With Content Marketing in the form of useful storytelling that understands Africa’s different markets and cultures.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

A one-size-fits-all approach will not work in a continent as diverse as Africa. Like those stories told by the bonfires to an eagerly listening audience, great content marketing is engaging. It is sought out and consumed with felicity. Most importantly, it has to be free of the assumption that because it worked in other markets it is automatically going to succeed in Africa.

Broadcast and outdoor mediums dominate advertising awareness, with mobile and online advertising lagging far behind in the consumer mindset. (Africa Prospects Report 2016)

For any content marketing campaign to succeed in Africa, it is important to note that content marketing will not replace traditional methods of reaching consumers any time soon. They can, however, complement each other in such a way that content marketing provides that crucial balance to traditional marketing methods.

A Nielsen survey of 16 African countries shows that ‘search for information’ (i.e. relevant content) as the third most frequently performed activity on the web. Another study shows that between 2010 and 2015 some 300 million mobile internet subscribers were added with another 250 million more expected leading to 2020 (The Mobile Economy Africa Report). Mobile is one of the fastest-growing communication channels in Africa. Pairing these two facts together [Frequent Search for Relevant Information + Growing use of Mobile Internet] and we begin to get an idea just how a successful content marketing campaign can be run in Africa.

For a successful content marketing campaign in Africa, it helps to have an appreciation of the role traditional marketing plays, along with a growing communication medium like mobile and an understanding of the market and its culture.

Done right and the potential payback is massive. Get it wrong and you just might be sitting by the fire alone all by yourself.

Written by Funsho Peters, Marketing Communications Professional with Experience in Digital Marketing, Public Relations and Branding.


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