USIU and SIMElab have published a detailed social media report that focuses on trends and narratives. It is also likely that you have already seen the piece because it has been circulated widely, but if you haven’t, then you have come to the right place. We are still looking into the document so that we can contextualize its findings to what you and I relate to in the social media space.
Facebook is losing users
Right off the bat, the report highlights that the number of Kenyans using Facebook dropped by 6.8% in 2020. This is interesting but not a surprising development that can be attributed to a series of reasons. First, is that the platform has been around for so long, and early adopters have simply gotten bored with its features. Secondly, Facebook has not been doing things right in the last couple of months: the site was reported to have colluded with the infamous Cambridge Analytica to influence elections in multiple states including Kenya. Facebook has also been on its top game in terms of privacy and managing scandalous content as some popular people keep getting away with postings that violate the site’s policies without the social media giant doing anything about it.
You would ask, where are these people going if Facebook is not their thing anymore – and bearing in mind that the majority of Kenyans use their smart devices and computers to access social media apps and everything else as secondary?
Well, the team from USIU found out that the youths who have abandoned Facebook have found a new home in other social media apps: 67% of the group now likes Snapchat, 63% of them are using TikTok, and another 61% are preferring Facebook-owned picture-sharing platform Instagram.
Another notable observation in 2020 is that up to 61% of Kenyan men on Twitter have their accounts under pseudonyms.
Again, you would ask why is this the case, but we all have different answers. Some want to keep their online presence unknown (note, not private), and that need stems from a variety of reasons including keeping colleagues or employers out of their online loop. We can also argue that the use of pseudonyms helps uphold anonymity, which is identity work – or the strategic presentation of these men – an involves relationships between affordances and practices.
Kenya’s mobile phone penetration is at its highest yet at 117% as of April 2020. Millions of Kenyans have access to smartphones as well, and they use these gadgets to mainly access social media pages. However, 23.3% of users prefer using browsers instead of dedicated apps.
Mobile sites use less data than their smartphone apps, and in a market where data is expensive, we get why some people prefer mobile browsers.
Cybercafes or Wi-Fi hotspots?
According to the report, the majority of people living in urban areas (54.3%) access social media from public hotspots. There are plenty of such spots that are offered by the likes of Telkom Kenya, Poa! internet and even Safaricom. The number drops to 46.1% for folks in rural areas, where the demographic prefer cyber cafes.