Friday, August 12, 2011

Africa.com: 5 ways Africa.com can become the next big Thing in African Online media Landscape

The Africa.com start-up is one of the most exemplary ways of putting a powerful domain brand into use. Like we said in a previous post, Africa.com has the potential to become one of the most powerful brands on the African continent, something close to the Huffington Post for Africa, an opinion leader on African issues. The africa.com team has done a wonderful job building the brand over the last year but Africa.com needs to move on to the next level to achieve its wonderful vision for the continent.

Africa.com already has a very impressive advantages. The website ranks second, after Wikipedia for the search term "africa" on Google. According to Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool., there are 55 million global searches for the term "Africa" so if your website ranks second for that, you are obviously sitting pretty high in the web food chain. The Africa.com Company should now come up with a content strategy that involves creating unique continent specifically for the Africa.com readers and audiences. Content is King, and while the team has done an impressive job building content and profiles for the various African countries, it needs to reinforce this with regular coverage from these regions. This is what I will propose for the Africa.com brand to move to the next level:

5 ways the Africa.com Team can make Africa.com the HuffingtonPost for Africa

  1. The Huffington Post Model: Teresa Clarke must now become Arianna Huffington, at least on the business side. As one commentator once said, "To grasp the Huffington Post's business model, picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates." Currently , a lot of the content on africa.com is aggregated which means africa.com still does not offer users a unique experience. If I can read it on allafrica.com why do I have to visit africa.com? There are thousands of great and prolific bloggers, analysts, journalists, politicians, business leaders, academics, civil society leaders looking for a platform to be published. Sign an agreement and give them the platform to write their ideas for free. www.cp-africa.com employs a similar strategy. Look for them and enter into an agreement. Of course the content must conform to the clear vision of Africa.com and be subject to stringent editorial oversight; signandsight.com and huffington post.com are also good examples of websites employing this model. There are more. I think this is a win-win situation, giving the writer a unique platform where their work can be read by millions of users while Africa.com gets unique and valuable content. AOL for example required its journalists to produce 5-10 stories per day; now that's what the web is about, content.
  2. Redesign the Website for a better user experience: The Africa.com design is good for an average website but Africa.com is not an average website. The website should be redesigned for a better user experiences. Again borrow a leaf from HuffPost. Add more content on the home page; currently, the home page is under-resourced. Add more color in the design to giv ethe website some life. Employ the use of Thumbnails to illustrate stories; put the sidebars into greater use, expand space for advertising; make the home page longer to accommodate at least 100 articles with photos. Add photo galleries of the week's most notable events in Africa, employ the use of YouTube embed videos and more.
  3. Employ social media more skillfully: Africa.com has about 3500 fans on Facebook and 1194 Twitter followers. The tweets should employ appropriate hashtags to increase their chances of being found by Twitter users hence the chances of being found, also employ Facebook Ads for sometime o increase number of likes. Add the Facebook Like Button and the Twitter Follow us button at the top of the page; submit the content to hundreds of social bookmarking platforms; study how HuffPost and NY Times have employed the use of social media and replicate accordingly.
  4. Build Mini Brands under Africa.com: Africa.com Travel is a good start and a good body of work has been done in profiling very African country as a travel destination. The next step is now to offer daily travel tales and deals; profile best African resorts, camping sites, Safaris(you can even write to resort owners and tell them to a profile of their establishment); do the same with Africa.com Finance, how are African markets performing, major financial news from the capitals of Africa? Add Africa.com Lifestyle(Culture), Africa.com Health/ Healthy Living, Africa.com Sports, Africa.com Tech news etc and building each portfolio into almost an independent authority. The Africa.com Deals is a good innovation, perhaps the team can borrow a leaf from South Africa's Daddy's Deals Online deal buying model and earn commission for every deal sold. They can even partner with major African airlines and hotels and resorts and sell travel and accommodation and car hire deals.....
  5. Monetization: Make more money. Currently, it seems the website is relying only on Adsense for its revenues; I think it's time the website was redesigned to accommodate more ad space and then selling advertisng to major brands globally.
If you have more ideas on how Africa.com can become a force on Africa media landscape, don't hesitate to comment below. Thanks.