Recently there was an article in the business daily that asked whether the use of social media has been overrated.An example was given of the Pepsi Cola campaign which through attracting a lot of followers never really translated to a healthier bottom line for the company and now Pepsi Cola has decided to revert to the more traditional mode of advertising to market its brand.
I think the success of social media is in the way it seeks to promote a communal feel for people who share the same views or enjoy certain interests or share a passion for the same cause.While Kenya has a very different demographic we can tap into our peculiar concerns to use this form of media to change our situations and circumstances.
Safaricom has led the way by having a very strong online presence both on twitter and face book.Their social platform has aimed at increasing brand awareness without necessarily focusing on sales and also seeking to engage their customers.Checking their face book updates one sometimes reads a lot of complaints on issues but they have also been able to educate a lot of their followers on twitter on their products and services through their trivia questions.And am sure none of their winners are complaining.
In a recent interview on CNN the mayor of New york gave an inspiring story on how he used twitter to get help to his constituents during a snow storm in December of last year.In Kenya media houses have some of the largest following and they are closely followed by certain politicians and and figures in the entertainment industry.
With such a platform these organizations and personalities can positively influence the choices of their audience.These same avenues of transmitting information can be used to channel civic education and citizen responsibility on the issues we are facing today.
With a campaign period before us that is already generating heat and with a sizable number of Kenyans both within the country and in the diaspora it is interesting none of the political heavyweights garnering for the top job has come up with a way to use twitter to engage in debate on issues close to the hearts of Kenyans.Martha Karua who has arguable the largest twitter following and who is most active on twitter now needs to stop fighting the endless problem of corruption and needs to start telling us how if and when she is elected intends to fight issues of unemployment,insecurity,corruption and a whole lot of other issues.
With one of the highest internet users on the continent, if used well social media can be a great boost towards raising awareness of issues that affect us as a country. A lot of excitement followed the enactment of the constitution and as we speak more than 20 bills await to be brought to parliament to fast track its implementation.
A democracy will only be built if each and every Kenyan is involved in the process,from my grandmother in the village to the C.E.O of the blue chip company.It is only by employing a bottom up approach in solving our issues and being involved in the way our country is run that we will see change .And the change will take time,those of us reading this may probably be laying the groundwork for the Kenya that our children and grandchildren will enjoy in the coming years.
Let us see the Kenyan social media scene alive with ideas and constructive conversations on how we can keep the country on track to being the land of milk and honey our freedom fighters and founding fathers fought for.