Broadcasting to Kenya’s Growing Online Population
When I was growing up, I thought I only knew two things about Kenya. First, they are known for their talented group of distance runners. Second, they had a pretty strong dodgeball team on Nintendo’s “Super Dodgeball.” Aside from these two facts, I didn’t know much else.
Looking back, I think the reason why I don’t know much about Kenya is that I don’t know any Kenyans. Thanks to the internet, that’s likely about to change. According to the global market research firm Synovate, more than 2 million Kenyans are now on Facebook. That makes 79 percent of the country’s internet population. To put that in context, about 66 percent of the internet population in the US is on Facebook.
Synovate’s other findings were just as startling.
- One quarter of Kenyan internet users do not have email addresses.
- Daily and weekly internet usage in Kenya have both doubled in the last two years whereas monthly usage grew by over 80% in the same period.
With this report, and the fact that another 18 million Kenyans have cell phones, it’s no surprise that Moses Kemibaro, founder of the East African digital strategy agency DotSavvy, feels that Kenya is entering a golden age for digital marketing. With all these Kenyans finding their way onto social networks, it feels like it is just a matter of time until I connect with some and learn more about their culture and society.
While Kenyan’s flock to the internet, and to Facebook in particular, who is taking advantage?
It isn’t too surprising that the answer is a major content creator. NTV, as one of Kenya’s few national television channels, is arguably making the biggest impact online by sharing its content and giving its audience a forum to discuss current events.
NTV has nearly 75,000 fans on Facebook. The interesting thing about this is that the majority of their content and discussion topics on Facebook are centered around current events. Considering that, according Facebaker.com, 77 percent of Kenyans on Facebook are aged between 18 and 34, I would guess that they aren’t necessarily catering to the largest segment of the Facebook audience. However, they still have a fairly active Fan page, and 75,000 fans is an audience to be proud of, particularly given the low level of internet penetration in Kenya.
YouTube is where NTV really shines. Since joining in 2007, the NTV YouTube channel has had more than 48 million views (I’m also happy to see that Boston Legal is still doing well there. Good for you, Shatner). Again, most of their content there is related to current events.
I think the point for NTV is that while good content is definitely the key to keeping and maintaining an audience online, content that will lead to debate or discussion will encourage user buy-in and enhance participation. In a country like Kenya that is undergoing its fair share of political turmoil, politics and other national issues are sure to get people talking. As a major television station, NTV already had an audience, albeit a relatively new one, they just had to find a way to keep them engaged when they aren’t in front of the TV. This is important because, according to another of Synovate’s findings, Kenyans spend the same amount of time on the internet as in front of the television (70 minutes). NTV had to embrace social networking, and use it as another channel for their content, or they likely would have lost out.
Considering the recent dramatic growth of Kenyan internet use, developing a strong presence online was a smart move, and I’m sure its a move they’re glad they made.