The Social Media Week independent (SMWi) will take place in Nairobi in September

Why we cannot overlook the power of Social Media.

When Bikozulu penned the heart-rending story about Jadudi, the overwhelming response to that worthy cause painted a picture of the power of technology and social media. In just a few hours, the #1MilliForJadudi campaign had exceeded its target. A nation drawn together by the plight of a young man assaulted by brain tumor responded resoundingly. Recently, a distraught parent frantically made it known to the world that her 9-year old kid was missing. The story landed on different social media platforms where people tweeted, retweeted and shared it. Again, it was another case of a sour story gone sweet.

 Roy Wachira (Left) of Foundry Africa and Moses Kemibaro (right) of Dotsavvy moderates a panel session at Social Media Week independent (SMWi) Partner launch at Serena Hotel in Nairobi. The panelists discussed the role of social media in businesses. Nairobi will be among five other cities globally that will run the Social Media Week independent (SMWi) from 12th to 16th September. This is the first time the globally acclaimed conference will take place in Kenya.
Roy Wachira (Left) of Foundry Africa and Moses Kemibaro (right) of Dotsavvy moderates a panel session at Social Media Week independent (SMWi) Partner launch at Serena Hotel in Nairobi. The panelists discussed the role of social media in businesses. Nairobi will be among five other cities globally that will run the Social Media Week independent (SMWi) from 12th to 16th September. This is the first time the globally acclaimed conference will take place in Kenya.

Technology, and particularly social media, has changed the way in which we experience the world around us. Gone are the days when we would be curled up around the TV or radio to get first hand news. Nowadays, with the click of a button, you are able to access breaking news hours before it finds its way in the mainstream media. In fact, the mainstream media is working to be at par with social media through establishing different digital platforms. Analytics show that, of the entire population in Kenya, about 5.5 million, 3.5 million, 2.5 million and 1 million people access Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and SnapChat/LinkedIn respectively every other month. Now with this kind of online presence, you will agree with me that we cannot, therefore, afford to ignore what this avenue of communication is capable of.

Brands will thrive or survive depending on how well they exploit social media. It is also possible to find jobs, access healthcare, vote, travel, choose restaurants, commute to work or make an important decision thanks to social media. Let’s take a look at some of the ways this powerful tool is helping to improve lives.

Community Policing

It is everyone’s wish to live in a crime-free world. We would all want to believe that we live among good people but the grim reality is that, in a world of good people, there is almost an equal number of people with ill intentions. It therefore goes without saying that you have to constantly watch your back lest bad things befall you. We have read on the dailies, watched on TV or heard on radio about a person who went missing, a car that was stolen or a case of gender based violence. As this news reach the mainstream media, it probably has already been discussed on social media and ways of reporting the crimes devised.

You will remember, not too longer, the story of Fatuma-the woman stabbed on the cheek by her estranged husband. Kenyans on twitter took up the story and it became a trending topic under #JusticeForFatuma. Eventually, Fatuma underwent treatment while the husband faced the wrath of the law. It has been possible for the people to report crimes or other malicious intentions thus finding solutions for the affected victims. Crime Watch Nairobi and Chief Kariuki are some of the twitter accounts I know which do a great job on community policing.

Driving commercial agenda

A while back, organizations would come up with brochures, catalogues and other publications detailing the kind of products and services they offer. The landfall of technology in Kenya and eventual internet penetration has gradually phased out this model of conducting business. These organizations have/are embracing the dynamics of technology to drive their agendas. Firms are leveraging on the power of social media by making huge investments to be able to communicate with brands and other customers. Where a customer needs assistance from a brand, they are able to contact them with the least hustle.

Digital Literacy

If you are an ardent social media user, you will agree with me that you have learnt a lot through the various platforms you are in you are. YouTube is no longer the mere site where you visited to watch a movie or listen to music, in fact it has been christened ‘YouTube University’ as a result of the many channels which have sprung up to teach people on different stuff.

There are a gazillion DIY videos and many others on a topic of your choice where you can easily learn from the comfort of wherever you are. This, coupled with avenues such as the government’s investment in digital literacy program, social media will help revolutionize how things are learnt and done even further.

Globalization of businesses

A business that is confined to the borders of a country in terms of market size is not yet alive to the power of technology and social media. People are using banks with money transfer services to send and receive money from other people living abroad. Other firms are branching out to other countries and communication maintained thanks to technology. For instance, a business like Uber has been able to offer services on a global scale owing to how well it has tapped into the exponential technology.

Technology, social media and mobile devices have made it possible for people to work smarter and lead more productive lives.  Kenya, as a technology hub, has allowed relative social media freedom which has ensured that issues affecting citizens are addressed.

Since approximately 24.7 million people have active mobile internet subscriptions, it becomes important to hold conversations around social media. In this light, Nairobi will play host to Social Media Week independent (SMWi) starting 12th through to the 16th of September 2016. Nairobi will be running SMWi simultaneously with London, Rome, Sao Paulo, Miami and Mumbai with the intention of creating a buzz on Digital and Social Media Advertising. Nairobi is the second city in Africa, after Lagos, to host this global conference which has four editions happening globally -February, June, September and November.

The conference, focusing on the theme ‘Harness the Power of technology and social media to transform businesses, culture and lives’, will give the delegates a chance to sample week-long events. While Expo and Plenary sessions will take place at KICC, workshops and master classes will be held at ILab Africa at Strathmore University.

The September conference will bring together stakeholders and leaders in the ICT industry. Here conversations will orbit around technology’s role in the country’s future and what it means for businesses and our globally connected society. While speaking at a media briefing this morning, Rita Gitobu-Njuguna of Go Gaga Experiential, SMWi’s Kenya franchise said the conference will act as a leading platform that will curate and share best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.

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