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Kenyan Politics and Social Media

Kenyan Politics and Social Media

This post was inspired by @gmeltdown with whom I had an interesting discussion on Twitter yester night.

Earlier in the day, following Ruto’s flight to the Hague, #RutoPlaylist became a worldwide Trending Topic on Twitter as Kenyans On Twitter creatively played around the hashtag by adding some renown songs that fit the theme of Ruto heading to the Hague, circumstances notwithstanding. I incorrectly tweeted that Ruto was the first Kenyan Politician to become a worldwide trending topic on Twitter but was informed that that Title is held by Raila who was trending during the promulgation of the new constitution.

That said, Ruto trending today stems from what @gmeltdown rightly stated as “an emergent theme with some unique reality on the ground.” He had handed himself over to the ICC and whatever emerged in forums and on Twitter was grounded in this reality. That Ruto was in The Hague.

Earlier tonight, a couple of guys on Twitter led by @timnjiru tried making #KibakiPlaylist a trending topic as well. And it is this deliberate attempt that led @gmeltdown to tweet this – “Methinks TT is meant to emerge naturally. Best word for concerted effort to trend #KibakiPlaylist is SPAM – Am sorry…” This presented an interesting scenario that should be of interest to you as a business. I did not view it as spam and tweeted as much “It may be a contagion: reverberations of the #RutoPlaylist.” And here are my reasons.

Most social media monitoring and analysis tools allow you to measure yourself against your competitors. There are many reasons for doing this but two of the most important reasons are one, you need to know what your competitor is doing in the social space and hear what people are saying about them and two, it is almost a given that whenever your competitor is mentioned online, there is a large likelihood that you will be mentioned as well. Take for instance the squabble that happened with Kenya Data Networks at Wazua forum earlier this year when someone claimed KDN was the worst ISP in Kenya, none of the other ISP’s were spared either. They all came under attack at one point or another as people compared and contrasted. And this is what I believe to be the case with the #KibakiPlaylist. Someone also suggested to do a #RailaPlaylist after making the former a #TT.

Ruto was not operating in a vacuum. Pundits have been racking their brains trying to predict the repercussions of Ruto’s move to go to the Hague especially with regard to the impact it will have both on him and back in Kenya. From the few tweets containing the #KibakiPlaylist hashtag, the message is clearly a reaction to Ruto’s move to go to The Hague and its trending in the morning.

As a social media practitioner, this is what I am always on the lookout for when it comes to my clients. If Bandwidth is trending, then the various ISP’s in Kenya will definitely be mentioned. Will they be in a position to spot the opportunities for positive engagement as they arise is the question? Given the industry you operate in, you must be in a position to monitor various keywords that relate to you and anticipate mentions of your brand either negatively or positively. On this playlist business, I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes full circle. All it has to do is capture people’s imaginations.

Your thoughts?

  • Nice post, interesting and valid perspective. Thanks for mentions.I still think a deliberate effort to create a trend is largely spamming. Perhaps marketing is also euphemism for spamming. The very original intention is what makes it spam. I shall not rule out trending of #KibakiPlaylist but am seeing a slippery slope. But again for similar activities, there also appears to be a thin line between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Spamming. For now, allow me to sound a little more purist.

    But am happy Kenyans are discovering the power of social media all the same.

    • Marvin Tumbo

      A deliberate effort to create a trend is not spam per se. I guess the question should be to what end is trend geared at. Is it a trend just for the sake of it or for people to engage, converse, and create meaningful discourse.

      In social media, awareness may be the goal and making a given hashtag a trending topic is usually one of the success metrics. Getting people to converse to make the hashtag a trend is the trick.

      I think the #kibakiplaylist would have trended if the timing was right. It still has the capacity to. It was late at night and the #Rutoplaylist happened in the morning when “everybody” was online.

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  • Dorcforever

    what are you saying?

  • social media is cool