Social Media Lab releases the Kenyan Social Media Landscape 2020 report

By Ernest Mwanzi

On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the Social Media Lab. housed at USIU-Africa, in partnership with the U.S Embassy Nairobi, released the Kenyan Social Media Landscape: Trends and Emerging Narratives, 2020 report in a virtual event that was attended by industry experts, media and academics, and was also livestreamed to over 1,500 participants. This was second report after the first one titled Social Media Consumption in Kenya was launched last year.

Speaking at the event, USIU-Africa’s Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, noted that social media has become part and parcel of our daily lives through communications, marketing and research for both active users and those who use social media occasionally. He also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the consumption for social media and that many people have been glued to their advices for updates, news or learning activities.

Also present at the launch was the Press Attaché, US Embassy, Nairobi, Ms. Emily Fertik, who highlighted the growth of new social media platforms during the pandemic, as well as noting that the likelihood of people consuming fake news during the pandemic had increased, with more people spending time on social media.

“It isn’t just the big names like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp that are playing a major role in the digital sphere today. With the emergence of COVID-19, we have seen the rise of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and it will be fascinating to see whether they continue playing an important role in Kenya,” she said.

“The report has great insights on fake news and how we can combat it, in addition to also having several insights on the kind of content Kenyans consume, and when they consume it,” she added.

Managing Editor, Digital, Standard Group Plc, Ms. Carol Kimutai, noted that when they produce news, social media content is a must, with even designers having to develop social media designs as they do print designs. She commended the research team for the report, which she said will come in handy for key decision making in the news room.

According to the report, social media sites and apps have become the new home where Kenyan families, friends, influencers, brands, and bloggers converge multiple times daily to share updates and communicate. Social media usage patterns have changed over the last one year, with Facebook users having decreasing by 6.8%, Snapchat users increasing by 17.3%, while Twitter users increased by 13.4%. The report also shows that Kenyan youth have abandoned Facebook in favor of Snapchat (67%), TikTok (63%), and Instagram (61%). With the uptake in visual content, there is a surge in penetration and acceptance of other less commonly known social media sites and apps in Kenya like, Google Duo, WeChat, Vskit, Likee and IMO.

Compared to 2019, the number of WhatsApp users who use social networking apps on mobile phones have decreased from 97.5% in 2019 to 90% in 2020 as many users access WhatsApp social networking sites from their offices.

Similarly, the number of Facebook users accessing the platform using mobile phones has decreased from 96.2% to 81% while those accessing Facebook using a desktop (7%) and laptop (13%) have increased.

“This year, we highlighted trends on social media use in Kenyans daily lives as well as newly emerging narratives on online misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, cyber harassment, social media use during the Coronavirus pandemic, Social Media Big Data Mining and the challenges with social media,” said Dr. Patrick Wamuyu, the Social Media Lab (SIMELab) coordinator.

The Social Media Lab, funded by the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, is an interdisciplinary center formed to undertake research in big data and social media analytics by blending theoretical frameworks and analysis from academia with the experiences of businesses, government, and civil society. It provides consultancy services to support a wide range of research such as impact evaluation, advocacy, training, and education. The full report can be accessed by clicking here.

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