Kenyan politicians struggle to incorporate social media in election campaigns

Kenya politicanCampaign teams are using YouTube and blogs to reach their younger voters. (Image source: angushowie)

Kenyan politicians running for election have been met with challenges, such as winning the youth vote through social media, according to Mathew Muthuri, a social media marketer in Nairobi

From presidential, senatorial and parliamentary candidates, social media has become the hunting ground for the youth vote.

The country currently has more than two million users of Facebook and Twitter, the majority of which are aged between 18 and 35 years.

Campaign teams are also using YouTube and blogs to reach their voters.

“Politicians know that if they want to reach the youthful voters, social media is the place to be. Each presidential candidate has a sizeable number of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter,” observed Mathew Muthuri, a social media marketer in Nairobi.

Launching his online campaign forum, Raila Odinga, a leading presidential candidate, noted, “I will make you privy to my thinking on urgent issues that affect us all. You will tweet, then I will tweet.”

Another presidential candidate, Martha Karua, posted on her Facebook wall, “We live in a rough neighborhood where we have remained a positive force of peace and stability. Our territorial integrity is violated and our border communities are left at the mercy of bandits. This must stop.”

During the last year, Jacob Macharia, a parliamentary candidate for Molo Constituency in Nakuru County has engaged with his supporters through his Facebook account.

This is the first election, following the 2007 elections that resulted in post-election violence and practitioners warn that social media could also be used to cause violence through posting of provocative images and posts.

While the government has warned bloggers of prosecution, analysts add that there was need for social media education.

“There was need to educate people on the ethical and professional ways of engaging online as well as promote responsible use of social media for societal good,” noted Muthuri.

Mwangi Mumero

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