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Twitter, TV, and Tusker Project Fame; a Transmedia Experience

Twitter, TV, and Tusker Project Fame; a Transmedia Experience

Twitter in Kenya is very active. For a long time now, the activities of Kenyans on Twitter usually increase or decrease in frequency depending on the popular activity for that day. Tech related seminars, workshops and conferences have received the lion’s share of these Twitter conversations. TedxNairobi, E-Tourism Conference East Africa, Mobile Web East Africa, Tandaa Kenya seminars are just some of the conferences that got massive airplay on Twitter. On the non-tech side, there was lively twitter activity on the referendum, the promulgation, and around TV personalities and programs.

But over the past few months, an interesting trend has emerged where a transmedia experience has been created between Twitter and TV. TV is a push media that does not allow for any meaningful interaction. Pre-twitter, people would wait till the next day to discuss with their friends whatever caught their eyes on TV the previous night. However, people have found a way of enjoying what is showing on TV but adding their voice in real-time to the happenings either by complimenting, critiquing, criticizing, or throwing in a random diss. Whatever the case, Kenyans have found a way of taking what’s happening on TV off TV and onto a network that allows them to have real, hearty, usually hilarious conversations around these popular TV programs and personalities. I have seen Kenyans on Twitter discussing presenters like Julie Gichuru and Anne Kiguta, discussing programs like wrestling, that law thingy on KTN, News and Political scandals of the day.

Tusker Project Fame #TPF4

But when it comes to a transmedia experience between Twitter and TV, nothing showcases this better than Tusker Project Fame. When Tusker Project Fame auditions started well over a month ago, you could tell how big this was going to get on Twitter given the amount of mentions it received on Twitter just on the first day. My twitter timeline during the hour that the auditions were aired was all #TPF4 and the tweets kept streaming in at a ridiculous pace. Every performance was a source of greater discourse and you will be surprised at what is going on in people’s head as these performances go on. In a way, being on Twitter on Sunday night during #TPF4 beats being there live thanks to what Kenyans on Twitter have been able to create. So what exactly does this mean?

Organization of Conversations

Like all things that capture people’s interest on Twitter, there was self organization around this Tusker Project Fame which resulted in #TPF4 being adopted as the official Hashtag for the program. Soon enough, every tweet regarding Tusker Project Fame had the Hashtag as the conversations on Twitter took a life of their own. And because most tweets were of people hating on the performances and making fun of the ridiculous performances, another Hashtag was adopted in #ChukiFM – which basically declare these as hater tweets (Chuki is Swahili for Hate). Organization was not just in the form of coming up with Hashtags but also in the order of tweets which captured almost every angle of what was transpiring – enough for people who were not in a position to watch the program to follow along. As the performances moved from town to town and then countries, people began arranging cities and towns based on which produced the best comics (those who can’t sing to save their lives but still insist they were wrongly judged)

Twitter Becomes a Necessity

On the second week of the auditions and every week after that, it was difficult to put my laptop down and watch Tusker Project Fame because whereas some of the people auditioning people were funny as hell to watch, nothing could beat the disses, comments, and ensuing conversations about them on Twitter. If you thought an audition was even remotely funny, the next tweet you would read would leave you in stitches. But it was not about making fun of participants though that was a large part of it; it was about appreciating talent on those rare occasions that we saw it. The honesty was usually brutal to a point of making others uncomfortable. Twitter has become a necessity today when watching #TPF4 and many people simply cannot watch it without Twitter. Whereas simply watching TPF4 is all nice and dandy, it still lags by a mile in the amount of fun people have watching and participating on Twitter.

EABL People Join Twitter

This coming Sunday during Tusker Project Fame, search for #TPF4 and just try keeping up with tweets that will be coming through. Every Sunday during the airing of #TPF4, I always tweet whether East African Breweries people understand what these conversations around #TPF4 mean. Well, they finally decided to join Twitter a fortnight ago using @OfficialTPF4 as their username. I was surprised they even joined at all because the friends I have who know people working in managerial capacities at EABL had assured me that there was no way in hell EABL would use social media let alone join Twitter. Seeing them here was therefore a pleasant surprise for me. I started pondering at what they could do to initiate meaningful engagement with the already overactive Twitter community in Kenya that was keeping tabs on #TPF4.

Out of their Depth

However, as soon and the Official Tusker Project Fame twitter account was created, it quickly emerged that they were from the get-go clearly out of their depth. First, given the volume of Twitter conversations happening around #TPF4, their tweets were few and far between. Second, they either had no idea what a hashtag was or that there was a hashtag for Tusker Project Fame since none of their tweets that far had it. I remember sending them a tweet trying to confirm whether they were indeed the official TPF4 account because I found their nonchalant approach really curious. I was not convinced that an official account would be that dormant or that ill-equipped in matters twitter.

Then I started getting calls and DM’s each urging me to either try and get the contract of running the social media initiatives for TPF4, or recommending me to someone I can talk to get the account or simply picking my brains on what these guys could do better. It was not lost to me alone that this account was not living up to expectations. For instance, on the first gala performance, I checked the official TPF4 account and their last tweet was 2 hours before the show kicked off to which I tweeted, “Your last tweet cannot be 2 hours ago, surely”. Many people had also observed the same and tweeted as much. The reason I tweeted this was because the tweets coming through that night about the show were crazy high. The tweets were coming in hard and fast yet the person responsible for this official account seemed asleep on the wheel keyboard.

Official Account Closes

Then on a Monday, the official TPF4 account comes to life asking people questions and trying to build engagement of sorts. Talk of Bad timing. They got very little traction this way because people had more important things to do. This is what they should have done while the show was airing and everyone was tuned in. There was very little in terms of feedback for the whole week as they tried to get people talking. Again, this exposed their bad judgement or timing or both. There was such a big disconnect it seems they were talking during the day while the Twitter community came alive during the night. Then sometime last week, I visited their account to find that some “bright” idiot had advised them to unfollow everyone they had followed till then. Little did I know this was just but part of a bigger plan. That of closing shop. The account was deleted the next day.

Dollar Value of Twitter Conversations

Because I have a feeling that the dismissive attitude of companies towards social media is borne of ignorance, I am sure putting some hard dollar values to these conversations will get them rethinking their participation on social media. This is the dollar value that most businesses fail to see when it comes to social media.

A month ago, TedxNairobi happened and Brandseye were the people who did the analysis of the conversations emanating from the conference. In the findings which you are read here – the following were the dollar values of the twitter conversations.


  • Twitter contributed to approximately, 58.9% of the total conversation.
  • The conversation on Twitter alone reached a total of 217, 360 people with a total Ad equivalent of $ 7,176.56.
  • The top consumers were influential people in the industry, and were discussed considerably throughout the event.


  • 71% of the conversation around the sponsors came from the consumers.
  • This is positive for the brand because it shows the audience is discussing their brand and aware of the interaction.
  • The conversation around the sponsors led to a total reach of 1, 517,410 people and an ad equivalent of $ 48 850.

Sponsors AVE = $ 48 850.

Now take into account that the tweets around #TPF4 are high in volume and take place every week. Are you curious what the dollar value of the conversations around #TPF4 on a single weekend is? Me too, and I hope to get back to you with the cold hard numbers soon?

  • its hard to school some technologically “un-informed” people (almost used ‘illiterate’ but since they are a target market for my company i will be nice ) .There is a definite ROI in social media otherwise the top companies in the World would not invest in it…despite the many articles and opinions to the contrary. From ‘Idols’ to Donald Trump’s ‘Apprentice’, ‘BBA’… etc -official twitter and facebook fan pages are a mainstay.

    Now come to TPF and its a sorry state, even for their website.My posts for the last TPF have better page ranking and site visits than those guys.With the adoption of the Digital Platform even TV will be interactive hence social media is here to stay and brand perception online is not just two cents …it counts, if only this guys would realize that at the earliest!

    • Marvin Tumbo

      Yes, I saw their website and almost choked. I was tempted to take a swipe at them about that too. There is a lot that can be done on that website. It can be the launch pad of the all the social media conversations that are happening around #TPF4. I am a big believer in “You don’t have to understand everything to do everything.” That is why you hire the right people for the job. Like a friend, Mikul, told me a while back, “I know enough to hire someone else to do it.”

  • Good post, Marvin.

    However, while I see the title of transmedia and the description I can’t help but notice a slight misunderstanding behind transmedia.

    Where TV meets Twitter is not too far from where TV met SMS (real-time in nature, short messages, etc) i.e it’s not groundbreakingly new, at least not by transmedia standards. Transmedia Storytelling isn’t just the use of traditional and social media, but actually creating an experience through parallel media channels including print, videogames, microsites, the mobile web, webTV and much much more. To put all that in context here’s an example of the television series Heroes created by Tim Kring and how they used Transmedia.

    You find transmedia applied mostly by Film Studios, Ad Agencies, Tv networks at both a Strategic and an execution level.

    Social TV may be a better expression to describe what you’re referring to. Not to say at all that Tusker Project Fame wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but reality TV and transmedia are yet to meet internationally. Even what MNet did with Big Brother across MXit, Social Media and Television couldn’t really be called transmedia storytelling, not by definition.

    I’m speaking about Transmedia Storytelling next week at Pecha Kucha Night Nairobi http://facebook.com/pechakuchanairobi

    What TPF could do is create a platform to host the conversations on, or to allow people to visit and take part in the conversation. Whether through Facebook, Twitter or even their own platform that connects across these networks the conversation will go on with or without them. For them, I’m sure they’d want to see not just how much the conversation equates to, but how much it can equate to for their brands and publicity.

    I think EABL’s stance is one related closer to fear of the unknown with social media. I was fortunate in SA to do some really cool social media work with a bunch of agencies handling digital business for Brandhouse http://brandhouse.co.za and they fully understand the importance of engagement and the web. It must be said that it is more competitive there, so EABL’s market share here might be what’s making them comfortable.

    • Marvin Tumbo

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for the well thought out response. Provides an opportunity to offer more depth in the matter.

      You are right of course in as far as Transmedia is concerned. I must say I was quite reserved until the last minute about using them term transmedia but it is what came closest to what I was going for. Social TV fits the bill perfectly. However, I think Twitter and SMS are world apart in so many ways the most prominent being SMS is by default still a private communication unlike Twitter which as a platform provides for wider and public interactions.

      On Transmedia in the true sense of the word, Jesse Soleil who was in Kenya a while back showcased it best. I captured part of it here http://www.socialightmediakenya.com/new-media-education-jesse-soleil-%E2%80%93-part-one and here http://www.socialightmediakenya.com/content-is-storytelling
      He captured best how you can tell stories through multiple platforms both online and offline.

      On EABL, their TPF4 site is probably the worst site I have seen this year. At this juncture, the site as is useless from a functional point of view. It is so easy to make the site the focal point of all their social media interactions. Conversations are already going on without them and whichever way you dice it, their lack of involvement is already having an impact on their brand, albeit negatively. I guess they can afford their comfort levels. But that may be their greatest undoing as well going forward.

      Will try and make it to the next Pechakucha night meeting to hear your thoughts on Transmedia.

      • If you think about it, Social TV could still form a part of the Transmedia experience in a given campaign utilizing Twitter or any other Social platform to complement the process. For an event as popular as TPF, this would have been great, but it needs people with a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved to convince management to go with it. I’m left wondering, do we need to wait for the current crop of Marketing Managers to retire or leave their jobs for more dynamic and vibrant marketers to take over before such concepts come into play? I lament with you – even added this as one of my Monday Moments in Episode 5 – Check it out at http://bit.ly/aK4ksR

  • Kenyan companies are yet to get the hang of it. I must admit it’s more fun to ‘watch’ tpf4 on twitter than on screen.

  • Erickadhola

    Hi Marvin couldnt agree more with your sentiments the real issue is that the Companies that should be at the fore-front in embracing social media actual have no clue on how to guage social media and have the tendency to want instant results.They never want to engage proffesionals to run their campaigns and have a very non-chalant attitude towards social media.With a TPF4 twitter really is the best interractive platform because of instant feed-back but alas tell to the gods…they will pick someone from I.T in their company to set it all up hence whenthey dont get feedback in 2 days they move to something else…look at their facebook page TPF4 its not engaging at all.I think before they realise the importance of social media…it could be too late