We recently asked this question to our fans on Facebook in trying to establish how exactly do we expect social media to affect the lives of Africans in the days to come. Main reason we focused on this continent is because Africa has managed to establish herself as the fastest growing technology destination and as marvel in connectivity growth with simple applications and mobile gadgets having enormous impact in everyday life. Recent statistics have shown that a majority of us access the Internet through our mobile phones and most of us will spend our time on social networks; with Facebook leading the pack.
Here was your verdict of the top 5 areas as at the time we were publishing this post….together with some of your comments:
Advertising and marketing for businesses – 28.3%
At 28.3%, most of the respondents said that they expected social media to provide a major marketing platform for brand and businesses to reach out to their audience. As one of the first online marketing agency focusing on reaching the African online audience, we can agree with this, but do point out that the rate of adoption has been rather slow. The next few months does promise to come with major changes as SMEs lead the way in flocking the online advertising scene.
Comark Onani – “I think social media will change the way media disseminate information, the way we transmit info will be more collaborative than produced by controlled sources. This is the beginning of capacity building in the African social sphere”
Connecting with friends and family – 24.3%
We actually expected this to be the biggest in terms of the impact of social media, surprised us by coming in second. 24.3% of the respondents vouching for this option, saying it has helped in cutting down the cost of travel and communication through traditional media such as telephone calls. It was also noted that social media has enabled Africans in the diaspora to be in-touch with their families back home with much ease with more interactivity beyond audio only. The capability of social media platforms to easily support images, video and other multimedia is highly accredited for this.
Evans Gikunda – “the aspect of advertising and marketing for business using social media hasn’t been harnessed fully in Africa so I think its impact is more on connecting.”
Enabling Africans tell their own story – 23%
The influence of bloggers and people in the social media scene is unchallenged in a well-connected society. Reviews, travel stories, personal dairies, Twitter, YouTube videos and even photography site such as AfricaKnows are presenting a whole new angle with regards to information about Africa. The platforms are helping get information out of the once ‘dark continent’. Breaking news as well as cultural information is easily spread to the rest of the world. Social media basically provides Africa a ‘chance to set the record straight’ as one of the respondents put it.
Chris Orwa “The drop in prices of Internet connection has increased the number of Africans using social media and an outburst of blogs, this will greatly impart Africans telling their own stories and putting it online. The advent of micro-blogging sites like twitter and foursquare has lead to an African generation that document their lives online.”
Politics – 10.8%
As usual when mentioning this subject, the reference goes back to the same cases; Tunisia, Egypt, Liberia and a number of Arab countries that recently saw uprisings against oppressive regimes by protests and rallies organized mainly using social media platforms. Nigeria (the most populous nation in Africa) is about to hold its elections this year and the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan has set a precedence of how to use an Internet presence in campaigning. With a Wikipedia page, a website (www.goodluckjonathan2011.com) and even an impressive Facebook page (with over half a million fans) we can easily say he has been one of the most serious guys to use the Internet in selling his vision for an an African country.
Brian Mungei – “I also wonder how politics will play out…think the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Fore-sightly, will it have the same effect in Kenyan politics in 2012 like it did in Nigeria?”
Managing Knowledge in Africa – 6.8%
Information accessibility has always been an issue in a continent whose literacy levels have been one of the lowest in the world. Google and other search engines have provided a major tool for accessing information. Now with the advent of cloud computing tools integrated with social media capabilities; storing, sharing and managing knowledge has become easier and more effective. Local African experiences and stories and shared for people to learn from them and add their ideas. A good example are online collaborative sites include the Climate Exchange Network for Africa (CENA) platform. CENA (a Rockefeller funded project) enables ordinary farmers to connect and share with researchers and university professors on farming practises, issues that affect the climate and climate change resilience efforts.
Eric Mugendi Nyagah – “There is so much in terms of content and knowledge that social media can bring to the African people, like getting information from people in their networks that they would not otherwise have access to. And sharing stories of Africa by Africans”
How do YOU think social media will impact Africa? – Log into Facebook and take part in the poll here, or drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out on how we think social media will impact you and your business.