Cell C signals major push into social media

Cell C, a major mobile phone operator in South Africa, has indicated a change in strategy from being a “price leader” to communicating with its subscribers in “whole new ways”, which means a major new focus on harnessing the interactivity and engagement that comes with social media.

A new social media presence appears to be high on the agenda for the mobile operator because Cell C CEO Lars P. Reichelt devoted some time to talking about it at a recent press conference on the company’s financial results.

Reichelt himself will now be Tweeting about his day-to-day activities from the official Cell C Twitter feed, @cellc, which is also integrated into the company’s official website.

“We’re revamping our whole way of dealing with customers,” said Reichelt. “We’re looking at lifestyle and what is needed, rather than just pushing packages.”

A large component of this new strategy is evident on Cell C’s new-look website, which features prominent Facebook, Twitter and MXit (Africa’s largest mobile social network/IM) integration.

Twitter, Facebook and MXit all feature as bold icons on the company’s homepage, while Cell C’s Twitter feed features Tweets about general technology and social media trends, using the hash tag “#TechToday”.

In addition to the CEO’s personal Tweets, Cell C has promised to “immediately” answer questions about their products and services via their Twitter account.

The company has also expanded its Facebook presence with an integrated homepage feed and an extended Facebook Page presence with a personalised address at facebook.com/CellC.SouthAfrica

The MXit integration provides users with access to exclusive content and discounts on free data for one-on-one chatting. The company has done a deal with MXit where all Cell C prepaid subscribers receive 7.5% free Moola, MXit’s virtual currency.

The mobile operator has also indicated it will now be offering innovative packages, rather than focusing purely on reduced rates. Reichelt said that this marks a shift in the mindset of his company towards innovation.

“Cell C is not known as innovative; we are a price leader,” says Reichelt. “However, people are looking for niche segmented products.”

At the press conference, Reichelt also announced Cell C’s 2009 results saying it has grown its subscriber base and revenue in a tough economic climate.

The company said it increased revenues by 14% from R8,6-billion in 2008 to R9,9-billion in 2009, grew its subscriber base by 8% year-on-year, and increased its market share from 13.4% to 14.5%.

“This was arguably the toughest year in cell phone history,” Reichelt said, citing the “three Rs” — recession, RICA and reduction.

The operator is planning on spending around R5-billion this year on upgrading its network and services. It will also be rolling out the country’s first 3G network in the 900MHz band with high-speed packet access (HSPA+) technology.



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