Social Media: Facilitating County Progress

jamhurimagazine.com

jamhurimagazine.com

Here is an extract from an Internews article titled Social Media: How County Governments can Benefit by James Ratemo. 

“..gone are the days of one-way communication systems where governments were monopolies of information and only transmitted censored information to citizens. Today citizens have leeway to vent their frustrations on leadership via the social media and a government that cannot listen is doomed to lose touch with the grassroots. The social media even gives Kenyans in the Diaspora a chance to contribute to county governance debates, meaning the leadership is able to curate varied opinion that would enrich its decision-making process.

Already a section of governors have borrowed a leaf from corporates and are quite active on social media. The Nairobi County Governor Facebook page for instance had over 138,000 likes as at November 11 2013 [currently over 148,000]. The governor has used the platform to communicate the work of his office and to arouse debate among his followers.

Dr. Kidero has even gone a notch higher to use the Facebook page to announce all upcoming events of his office and sharing key recordings from past events. This has seen the governor garner more and more followers thus able to track what Nairobi residents or other stakeholders think about the county’s projects and activities. His therefore is an example of how county governments can engage Kenyans on social media.

A quick survey across Facebook, Twitter and other social networks indicate that most counties are yet to establish official presence on the platforms. The county pages littering Facebook are either being run unofficially by individuals and contain no meaningful updates from the counties.

With more and more Kenyans now able to access the Internet via mobile phones, it is easy to stay connected and engage county leaders around the clock. Since it is impossible for county leaders to meet all their subjects one-on-one, engaging a majority of them via  social media platforms would be a sure way of receiving useful feedback. It therefore means leaders should develop a mechanism of monitoring what their subjects are saying on the social media for clues on what should top the county priority list.

Just like corporates have taken to social media to enhance customer care, county governments, through their communication desks should develop social media monitoring tools and policies to ensure constant touch with their constituents. As county governments struggle to have working structures in place, they need input of the citizens to exactly know their needs and wants. Constant surveillance of the social media can partly tell what citizens think about projects or plans being implemented across the counties.

Travis Crayton, an American social media enthusiast says “it is not enough for county governments (or any governments, really) to simply have accounts and post press releases. The pertinent questions should be: What value does these tweets and posts add to government? How do these posts advance citizen engagement and how do they improve the lives of citizens and make government better?”

Current trends indicate that most frustrated citizens opt to unleash their anger online. It is therefore upon county leadership to address issues behind such anger after crosschecking with the offices concerned.”

For the full article, click here.

To add to James Ratemo’s words, it is empirical that counties start and run pages that allow full interaction with the public. It could break down all the sectors in the county and dedicate a set amount of time to give information, answer queries, enact suggestions from the public and give a full evaluation.

The public also needs to be educated on their right to information. With this in mind, people can put pressure on their governor to perform office duties as is expected of them. This can also work to reduce corruption and other inconsistencies that often present themselves in public office regarding projects and budgetary allocations.

Accountability and transparency should be the themes of each county page set up. It would make it easier for voters gauge the developmental progress their governor has brought about and decided whether or not he/she deserves a second term. 

From this list of best and worst performing governors, those in their respective categories can and should make use of social media to analyse the social landscape and work to improve less that satisfactory areas.

Just as all organizations post only the good aspects of their company for PR purposes, this bias is likely to present itself in many if not all of these county pages. A way to curb this is have a separate entity not affiliated with the governors’s office manage the page.

The challenge may arise when rogue Kenyans use the platforms provided to conduct a witch-hunt, post malicious or false/inaccurate comments or even use them as advertising platforms. Kenyans need to be educated on the need to use the pages as a means to facilitate development and not stir up controversies that would only hamper development.

Social Media Wednesday: Lupita

Lupita-WikipediaShe has, at this point in her career, received over 30 awards from almost every prestigious award giving entity in Hollywood. Her name is currently being mentioned more times than seasoned Hollywood actresses, many of whom are singing her praises. Not unless you have been living in the earth’s core for the past three months, Lupita Nyong’o is showing the world that Kenya has more to offer than long distant runners, the Maasai, wildlife and being the homeland of the first black president of the U. S of A.

With an average of 18, 000 Google searches per month (Google Adwords), information of this multi-award winning actress is very much sought after. Note that this number is not inclusive of searches made on online entertainment sites and other mediums that share information about this rising celebrity. This is attributed to her performance in 12 Years a Slave by Director Steve McQueen.

instagramSocial media is an important tool in that it allows users access to information in real time.  If any given person wants to know what Lupita is wearing to award ceremonies, who she has being hanging out with or what nail polish colour she fancies, a quick look at her Instagram account will answer your questions. A great deal of the information shared on social media about the star, text or visual, is not available on other sites.

It is worthy to note that Lupita does not always run her Twitter or Facebook accounts since most tweets and posts are in third person. Her certified Twitter account has only been active since early January 2014 but currently has more than 33, 300 followers. Lupita has been on Instagram since December 2013 and currently has over 125, 000 followers while  her Facebook fan page that has been running since December 2012 recently reached over 112,000 likes.

In Lupita’s case, Facebook is the preferred social media tool not only because of how long it has been running but also because Facebook allows integration with other social media sites especially Twitter and Instagram. Facebook pages also allow for more information to be share than is possible on Twitter and users can interact freely with the information shared.

However, given the numbers, Instagram is the most used social media site that fans use to gain information about the star. It could be that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, wouldn’t you agree?

Uhuru-lupitaIn the new media age, many feel that if an event was not documented on social media then it never really happened. This could have prompted Lupita to join both Instagram and Twitter in order to remain relevant in today’s fast paced society. Fans can now reach her on the three popular sites whenever they want a piece of her.