Social Media Use in Kenya; 5 Ways Things Have Changed


Tomorrow is Social Media day, which was started by Mashable back in 2010 where they said it was “to celebrate and highlight the ways social media and digital innovation have come to define this generation.” The event is celebrated annually and this year is the 6th iteration. Nairobi has not been left behind and is one of the cities that recognize this day where it is organized by the Social Media Awards in collaboration with the Government and private sector stakeholders. There will be a morning session at The Foundry, Nairobi Digital Street Fair at Mama Ngina Street and an evening session at the Serena Hotel.

In the spirit of this forthcoming day, we have to recognize how social media has had an impact on our lives, well to those who are active internet users. There are some things we used to do or anticipate in real life that we now do almost exclusively on social media. Some of these milestones that have been achieved are:

1. Customer service

Social media has become an essential customer service tool where users launch their complaints on official accounts of various companies and in turn get a feedback where they attempt to solve their problem. A good example is Safaricom where through their official accounts on Twitter and Facebook attend to their customers’ complaints. You can also chat with senior representatives of an organization like the CEO on social media where they can give you information which a customer service representative might not be able to give you.

2. Obtaining First Hand Information

Internet users in Kenya will most likely obtain first hand information from a company or the government from Twitter or Facebook. The information could be a press release of a new product, countering an allegation, informing the public of a suspended service or a link where people can download a report. Previously, we relied almost exclusively on traditional media outlets like print, TV and radio to obtain this kind of info. In addition, breaking news tend to “break” first on social media then trickle down to the traditional media outlets afterwards.

3. Fundraising

Social media has become an effective tool for fundraising for noble initiatives like the one on Twitter recently with the hashtag #EdwardObiero where people were urged to raise money for one Edward Obiero to pay for cancer treatment. The target was Kshs 2.7 million and around 1.78 million was raised that was the minimum required to fund the operation

4. Rise of Influencer- based marketing on Social media
Brands have noticed a trend where they can partner users with a lot of following and influence on social media to market their products. This has led to the rise of marketing by these users in the form of tailored hashtags, avatar & header change of the specific logo of the product and content that tries to convince their following to purchase or be engaged with the said brand. Marketers combine these relatively new form of marketing with the traditional marketing via promoted ads on the social networking platform.

5. Growing social media usage in the country

Social media usage in the country is growing and according to the ICT Sector Statistics Report for the Period October to December 2014, there are estimated to be over 26.1 million internet users in Kenya from 23.2 million the previous quarter which is an impressive growth of an additional 4.8 million users in a single quarter. Twitter usage in Kenya has been doubling year on year and it is estimated there are around 1.4 million to 2.1 Kenyans on Twitter where 700,000 are monthly active users. Also in Kenya we have 4.3 million people on Facebook and a surprising close to a million users on LinkedIn. These numbers are expected to go up due to the increase use of social media in the country.

Data sources: ICT report, State of Blogging and Social Media in Kenya