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KENYAN POLITICIANS EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT IS IT EFFECTIVE?

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Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero – the most active governor on twitter

We have seen over the years a massive rise in the number of internet users in Kenya and with that a rise of social media usage with approximately 4 million active Kenyans.

One of the most discussed subjects on the social media has been politics whereby Kenyans debate and discuss all manner of issues concerning politics and leadership in the country.

GOVERNOR KIDERO MOST ACTIVE ON TWITTER

Politicians themselves have not been left behind as they are increasingly joining the trend.

A survey done by The Business Daily for governors on Twitter shows Nairobi governor Dr. Evans Kidero as the most active governor on Twitter with 208,841 followers, followed by Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua with 89,050. In the third place is Mombasa governor Hassan Joho with 37,945 followers, Bomet governor Isaac Ruto, 33,991 then Prof. Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni County. The survey also reports that only 13 governors are not on Twitter.

President Uhuru Kenyatta - politician with the most followers on twitter

President Uhuru Kenyatta – politician with the most followers on twitter

POLITICIANS, PERSONALITIES AND ENTERTAINERS

People with most followers on Twitter are politicians and media personalities with entertainers following closely.

For the politicians President Uhuru leads the way in the Twitter stakes with 549,979 followers, Raila Odinga 360,205, William Ruto 324,512, Martha Karua 293, 652 and Peter Kenneth 221, 670.

Top media personalities on Twitter are led by KTN’s Jeff Koinange 388,446, Larry Madowo (NTV) 346, 060, Julie Gichuru (Citizen) 345,411, Mohammed Ali(KTN) 314,868 and Maina Kageni (Classic 105) 178,067.

In entertainment we have Octopizzo with 91,989 followers, Deejay Joe Mfalme with 87,382 followers, Eric Wainaina 80,974, Wyre 72,286 and The Creme Dela Creme 62,465.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA A USEFUL TOOL FOR POLITICIANS?

Peter Kenneth - one of the most active twitter users during the election campaign

Peter Kenneth – one of the most active twitter users during the election campaign

In the build up to the 2013 elections we saw how many politicians used the social media to lure voters mostly the youth to their side.

Presidential candidates like Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua were highly active and judging by the response they were getting you would think that they stood a real chance of beating the likes of Uhuru and Odinga to the presidency. But at the end they both received significantly fewer votes than the number of their followers on Twitter for example.

The success of Kenneth and Karua in the use of social media but not at the ballot box begs the question of whether the social media is an effective campaign and PR tool?

After what we saw in the 2013 elections, popularity in the social media is insignificant in making any real impact in those vying for seats. It looks like a platform best for people to just shout and make noise and put a fake face.

Social media users only account for 10 percent compared to the number of Kenyans in the country (not considering potential voters.) Social media is also very largely restricted to big cities and places where there is electricity whereas the majority of voters live in the rural areas.

Jeff Koinange - the most popular media personality

Jeff Koinange – the most popular media personality

This though hasn’t deterred the politicians from joining the digital Kenyan society as it has its advantages. With social media, politicians are able to get closer to the people and communicate faster on their development projects and day-to-day engagements.

President Uhuru Kenyatta whose Jubilee government promised to revolutionize information and communication technology has also been very active on the social media using the platform to announce Bills he has accented to, speeches, thoughts, itinerary and even solicits public views on government performance.

Social media still has its important place in the dynamics of politics even though it doesn’t appear it can’t be relied on much to gain votes. Politicians still can’t afford not to be part of the trend as it has proved an important tool to keep in touch with the electorate and maybe in the future it the numbers will convert to votes.

President Kenyatta declared winner.

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