15 key trends shaping Kenya’s social and digital media landscape

Michelle Atagana: Managing Ed.
15 key trends shaping Kenya’s social and digital media landscape

Kenya has long been at the forefront of digital innovation in Africa, with products such as M-pesa, Ushahidi and BRCK. It seems the digital revolution is set to continue growing according to a new report on the country’s digital and social media landscape.

According to the report’s creators — Nairobi-based strategy and storytelling consultancy Nendo Ventures – there are 15 trends that are shaping the country’s digital landscape.

The lengthy document authored by Mark Kaigwa, Odanga Madung and Samer Costello highlights how brands, governments and audiences will use social media in the next year, as well as the rise of a smart and better connected audience

Below are some highlights from the report, but you can read the full version here.

Media Evolution, not revolution

The report highlights changes happening in Kenya’s media landscape, particularly the increasing role of social media in journalism.

The rise of social TV

Kenya has seen an increase user engagement via social media during television broadcasts. According to the report, reality shows are seeing an increased number of tweets and conversations around episodes. It seems Kenya has entered the age of the “second screen” and those shows will probably begin to leverage the rise of social television.

Tomorrow’s newsroom and tomorrow’s journalist

The game of news journalism is also being affected by the shifts in Kenya’s social media landscape. Kenya’s media houses have recognised the potential of social and digital media and how it can be leverage in reporting and distributing the news.

“Journalists will become the custodians of social media in the newsroom in 2014. As the faces of the broadcasts and the individuals Kenyans online choose to interact with they have experienced growth in prominence and stature on the internet,” predicts the report.

Corporate catchup

Companies in Kenya and East Africa are beginning to find their way on social media. According to the report, what began with pressure on the marketing executives to “start a Twitter” and building brand presence on Facebook will lead to more defined roles on social media strategies.

The age of the social media director

“Social business stands as the next great ambition in the adoption of social media into an organisation,” says the report.

As more companies harness of the power social media, there will be a need to make room for high-level management positions that deal with social media strategies and what a company’s objectives are on social.

Facebook: like lust goes down, engagement energy goes up

Facebook is Kenya’s biggest social network, with around four million Kenyans on the platform. According to Kaigwa and team, engagement on the platform is moving beyond liking things to actual conversation.

Kenyan companies and those engaging on Facebook using pages have long been driven by “Like lust”; the craving for numbers behind their pages. 2014, thanks to Facebook’s own changes and a maturity of the social media space, will see the discussion move towards better return on investment and smarter measurement of success.

The rise and rise of Whatsapp

Whatsapp is big and it will probably become a direct line between customers and brands for instantaneous feedback and queries. This trend is also growing globally with brands launching dedicated Whatsapp lines for their consumers.

Digital governments come into action

In 2014 with devolution and the Kenyan constitution set to celebrate a year under the new administration, we can expect to usher in a new age of social media at the county level. Governors, senators and municipal public servants all taking to Twitter among other social networks to engage one another.

Nyumba Kumi (10 homes) goes digital

This initiative by Kenya’s government encourages Kenyans to interact with their 10 closest neighbours. According to the report this initiative could go digital, as has been demonstrated by the “tweeting chief“, who used Twitter to engage with his community.

“Twitter could prove decisive in creating virtual subcommittees and though this is one-to-many in nature, it could spell an alternative to WhatsApp,” says the report.

Social me-devolution

The report expects Kenya’s social and digital landscape to take the same route that the country’s constitution did in 2010: the creation of a devolved government, which moved from eight provinces to 47 semi-autonomous counties. It is expected that each county will take more ownership its own digital space.

Privacy and the government of social on digital

The report predicts that Kenya’s “digital government” in 2014 will have to be more accountable about digital security and surveillance issues.

“In 2014 we will see serious questions raised around digital security and privacy as the position on freedom of speech across technology is put under greater scrutiny. The African Union Cyber security Convention vote was postponed for both technical and opposition around its framework.”

The agency and the influencers

The age of the influencer is upon Kenya and agencies need to find better ways to spend on digital. Mobile will take precedence, naturally. For the influencers there will be more focus on content creation and crafting careers online as well as disclosure.

The influence bubble bursts

As the idea of influence gains traction and influencers seek to make money off their social media audience there will be scrutiny on the influencers. Audiences won’t be happy to be bombarded with branded content from individuals anymore.

Disclosure 101

For Kenya, the big challenge facing brand-influencer relations and public relations now is disclosure. In 2014, the report estimates that the audience will demand more transparency from brands, bloggers and influencers.

Mobile first is the way of future

The boom in Kenya’s technology space could lead to the creation of great mobile experiences for brands and consumers.

The crowd

The power of the crowd will grow. Though the number of internet subscribers have decreased in the the last year, the report is optimistic that the Kenyan online audience will get stronger and more active.

Micro-audio social networking

Locally we have seen several niche networks gain audience and this is to be expected for 2014 and 2015. Over five years ago, when GPRS and feature phones were gaining traction in the middle class mobile applications like Nimbuzz, 2Go and MXit began to scale across university campuses with students and their newfound mobile phones.

Growth of functional social networks

According to the report, as an increasing number of Kenyans ramp up their social sharing, and collaborate more, networks like Instagram will rise.

Welcome, the smart audience

For Kenyans, 2014 and 2015 will see the age of the smart audience because of more affordable smart devices making their way to the country, as well as competitively priced mobile data.

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson