30 Jun 2010

A leader becomes a follower! @Kikwete2010

The President follows Daraja!

Along with 94 other Twitter users, almost all Tanzanian, Daraja received an email earlier this week saying "Pres Jakaya Kikwete (Kikwete2010) is now following your tweets on Twitter. His campaign team have also started a blog.

It's created several reactions in Tanzania's growing blogosphere, including The Mikocheni Report, Faustine's Baraza and Subi Nukta on Wavuti.com. Mostly this is people simply noting the change rather than commenting on it, but there has been some more interesting reaction on Twitter and in the comments on the posts linked above. Search for @kikwete2010 on twitter.com for the latest thoughts, but here's a sample as well:
  • From @Sajjo: @kikwete2010 swahiba karibu, natumaini una lolote la kuleta jamvini // Asante, tutahabarishana!
  • From @robertalai: @Kikwete2010 great you have realised the power of social media. website not well socialised. Newsletter wapi?
  • From @DruYork: Now that @Kikwete2010 is following me, I feel like I should be making more politically correct tweets. Not that I don't already
  • From @AkbarTM183 I dont think @Kikwete2010 Twitter page is really by the president!! // its by campaign communication team
It is indeed (of course) the Campaign Communication Team that manage this account, rather than either Ikulu or the president himself, but it is an interesting development. @Kikwete2010 describes this as follows:
"we are a social media comm team reporting to the CCM campaign leadership, not Ikulu"
"Slowly making a presence here. Lots to learn but we are determined to engage and inform!"
"There is a growing realization of the power of social media, so hopefully we will see deeper engagement from Ikulu as well."
The signs are that this will make use of the interactive nature of twitter as well as creating a new channel for the campaign team to get its message out - several tweets have replied to questions or suggestions from other twitterers. It's hard to keep that up, but maybe that's the intention.

But why this new approach? The Mikocheni Report suggests this is a way of reaching the middle classes with their blackberries, and another commenter suggested it was simply keeping up with Obama's fashions. But given how the Tanzanian media is rapidly becoming established on twitter, facebook, etc., perhaps its intended as a way of reaching that influential group of opinion formers? And CHADEMA has long had a large presence in social media, most particularly through Zitto Kabwe on facebook, but also @chadematz on twitter.