Increased activity on social networking sites coupled with the dramatic rise in the number of blogs in 2012 made the year an interesting experience for Kenyans and the social media platform a force to reckon with.
According to statistics from SocialBakers, there are around two million Facebook users in Kenya, making it number 64 in the ranking of all Facebook statistics by country worldwide and number seven in Africa. This represents a penetration of 5.09 percent of the Kenyan population.
Twitter on the other hand has become a primary source of latest news in the country with Kenya emerging as the second most active African country with about 2.5 million tweets after South Africa, according to a study dubbed “How Africa Tweets.”
Most of these tweets were generated by a Kenyan Twitter community calling itself “Kenyans On Twitter” using the hashtag #KOT, who proved the network can be a powerful tool for social activism.
2012 has also witnessed some of the most radical activities in the country including #KOTAgainstMPBonus, a protest campaign carried out both online and on the streets protesting suggestions by Kenyan MPs’ to award themselves hefty send-off packages.
Kenyans also raised money to help the hunger-stricken people in the country through #Kenyans4Kenyans, as well as help those stranded without transport to get rides to work through the #CarpoolKe hashtag, when public transport service vehicles (Matatus) went on strike.
Companies have also realised that social media can no longer be ignored, making them increase their social media activity even to the extent of dedicating staff to handle their social media profiles.
Safaricom Kenya’s Facebook page is ranked the top brand in terms of likes, with more than 215,000.
As the East African nation approaches its general elections set for March 4, 2013, online activity has increased, with most, if not all, election candidates, turning to social media to reach out to the masses and sell their ideologies. This is a completely different picture as compared to previous general elections, when the phrase ‘social media’ made little sense to most Kenyans.
2012 can be termed as the year when Kenya reached its puberty and began growing into adulthood in terms of social media. Most mobile users in Kenya now own Internet-enabled phones with Facebook capabilities, through which they can keep in touch with friends.
It is expected that the trend will continue in 2013, as more and more Kenyans become connected to the Web thanks to the developments in fibre-optics and affordable smartphones.