Social Media was nowhere as important to Kenyan politicians in 2007 as it is now. None of them took it seriously though both Raila and Kibaki had minimal presence in both. Now with 2012 elections on the horizon, all the key presidential candidates are fighting for a slice of the IT, Web and Mobile Savvy class of voters.
On Social Media you have it all. It is like having the whole of Lang’ata Consituency with Karen on one side and Kibera on the other and seeing the definite clash. Social media is just the same. You have the ninja hustlers like Rammzy, Sickolia and Ogirox but also you have the Chris Kirubi, Peter Nduati, Josiah and Gina Din on the other side of the divide. Sitting on the Social Media fence you have the ever present TVPresenters, self declared celebs, bank clerks and the corporate spanner boys and girls whose only lifeline is the payslip. Withdraw the payslip and you have a very desperate chap begging for “any opportunity” out there.
So Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, Kalonzo Musyoka and William Ruto and other yet to be seen self-declared 2012 presidential candidates are fighting head-over-heels just to grab the most from it. They are fumbling here and there but only the best will win in social media. Social media is different. It is not won by the highest amount of propaganda you send around like unleashing the Mungiki, Chinkororo, Kalenjin Warriors or Baghdad Boys (I have to mention all to be fair) on those you perceive as not supporting your cause. Social Media battle for votes will be won by the most promising plan of action to change the country and being consistent because in social media, it is very easy to loose the votes out of being inconsistent.
Like you cannot mention that you are building a housing scheme called Tatu City and you have invested Ksh 240 Billion on it (Kwani uliiba kwa benki gani). Such untruths will be treated with scorn and satire that you will be left looking like the most stupid person whose mama and baba wasted alot off strength bringing into this world.
Already Raila Odinga has met with those he thinks represents the Kenyan social media fraternity or voting block. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is set to meet others including myself today (Thursday September 1st, 6pm) at Nailab. I know that Ruto, Uhuru, Karua might be calling such meeting soon or just that their strategy might be different.
As a politician, I would list for you some of the things you should look for in serious social media engagement group.
Avoid Fruit Ninjas and Munchaholics – You will see this group whenever you decide to call for a meetup. They are more interested in you taking them to Serena, Carnivore, Laico or Sankara than in a place where they will have utmost engagement. You might just include them in your group because maybe they need such exposure or maybe they are starving but don’t expect delivery from them. At the meetup they would be tweeting about the othonjes more and less of the engaging discussion you might be asking. Their standard tweet would be “Great Stuff”.
Carry less of your Ego Parlour Crew and Hangerson – Every politician out there including Julia Ojiambo, Kalembe Ndile and Ole Kiyiapi needs someone to assure them how they are the next statehouse resident. The ego parlour crew would massage your ego till you build the most expensive castles virtually. The moment you come back to reality, you will fall with a thud. This group is necessary to every politician but restrict them to a bare minimum. Don’t be like Raila tagging his political image cleaners like Ababu Namwamba along. Carry less of the ever present lickers and more of the behind the scenes crew
Would you mind listening more to those who disagree with you? – I think you should listen to this group more. When Obama took power, he talked of a group whose trust he had not won and might never win but he would listen to them. In social media, the best way to disarm critics (I am one of the passionate critic of what I criticise including Nyong’o and his AfriCF) is to give them a chance to research on what they think you are wrong on and come with it to an informal setting where you will have a one-on-one meeting.
Make it Informal – Any politician who looks for formality in engaging with the social media ninjas and leaders is simply dreaming. Some are formal but a good number of the platform operators who are the students, hustlers and payslip-stuck desperados are not going to come to a “black tie” dinner just to engage with a politician when they wont be awarded any cert. Making it easy for the ninjas to retain their incognito aspect but also make the TV cameras easy to point at the ones who would want to make a big entry on TV with a hard question to a leader like the VP or prime minister.
Not All Ninjas are Bad – In Fact no Ninja is bad and it all depends on how you handle them. There are those Ninjas who are very formal and sane and would rather stay on the sane path like ColdTusker but you will have some who will easily win the coveted “Teamroast head striker”. Mix them and gather them for best quality broth. You cant have the coldtusker all the time. Sometime you also have to mix the supras, ngothaless crew, code-nothing-talk coding and porn stars among your voters to be seen to be all inclusive.
All-in-all, we think that though late, any politician who is yet to effectively embrace social media is on for the game of Grand Deception after letting Grand Turismo pass.
So hoping that the VP would ever read this post, I would like to know what you guys would want to ask him. I have my questions which I never kosa just post yours below.