There have come several new social media sites since Facebook launched in 2004 and started getting traction in Kenya in 2008. However, it seemed like it was getting overtaken by newcomers such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. But why are so many Kenyans still active on Facebook?
Here’s what we think:
1. Initial Mover Advantage
Having been founded earlier that Twitter and Instagram, Facebook remains the Safaricom of social media in Kenya. When the earliest users, like some of you in your late twenties, thirties and forties, it created a buzz. People could send photos, upload memories, write “Notes” and many other interesting easy-to-use features.
2. Detailed User Profiles
On Facebook, as opposed to most other social networks, you can build a comprehensive user profile with work history, date of birth, education history, places you’ve lived, who your grandmother is and so on. This creates a more intimate experience between the user and the platform, as opposed to other social media sites.
3. Better Stalk-ability
For those whose accounts don’t have a multitude of privacy settings, Facebook offers an ideal space for stalkers to go through your timeline, see what you’ve been up to, where you’ve been, which school you attend, where you work, your family members and so on. Stalkers here are not just those weird online people who have nothing better to do. Parents, uncles, extended family members and even workmates appreciate this aspect of Facebook when “Checking up on you” without actually saying a thing. Then when you meet they start the conversation with something like: “So you had a crazy weekend in Nakuru, why wasn’t I invited…”
4. “Humble” Bragging
“Just did 45 minutes at the gym” with a well posed-for photo or “Best Western is so on point today” with a photo at the rooftop. People love to brag. Some may argue that this is mostly done on Instagram, but with the linkability of the two platforms, you will find that people posting images of how awesome their lives are will usually post to Facebook (and Twitter) as well.
5. Straight Forward To Use
Let’s talk about Kenyans in the informal sectors. Not the high-flying business owners and startups, but the smaller informal sector: mama mbogas, house helps, gardeners and manual laborers. You know a couple, think about them for a minute. Why are they on Facebook? The answer can be because their brother is on it, or their phone had it when they bought it, or any other reason, but the reason they stay is because it’s pretty straight forward to use.
6. Birthday Reminders
Were it not for Facebook, you probably would keep forgetting 95% of your friends’ birthdays. Nowadays Facebook even tells you about upcoming birthdays so you can remember your spouse will need a gift in a month’s time, or to hold a surprise “bash” for your BFF next week. For Kenyans more active on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, this is one of the reasons they are still logged in to their Facebook apps.
With the introduction of instant-play videos and other features that Facebook keeps coming up with, there is no doubt that employees at Facebook HQ work their butts off every day to try and make their users happier. Another aspect that Facebook has over it’s competitors is responsiveness. We all know someone, or we ourselves lost our paswords/got hacked, wrote an email and had the issue sorted in a friendly way. This type of interaction builds loyalty, albeit subliminally. You feel as though Facebook is your friend.