In the last few days I have been studying the effect of the popular Kenyan twitter hashtag #TwitterBigStick started by the one and only Sunny Bindra. My interest had been drawn to it when @NoniemG, one of the bloggers on this site critically looked at the hashstag and concluded that for the brands , internet is bigger than a few hashstags. My personal view is that TwitterBigStick is a great idea although stolen from the earlier version of Gotissuez. But as we say an idea is just an idea, the execution part is the key to success or the dreaded word “fail”. GotIssuez.com was meant to be the point where different customers give their views online… a point to speak your mind on phoney products, Substandard Customer Service and Brands that just don’t get it.
Gotissuez is a story for another day. For now let concentrate on the idea which I think is working but the impact is still minimal to say the least. There are number of reasons why TwitterBigStick is for now just a small stick, not being felt by the brands and the reckless road users.
1. Too serious not to be taken seriously
Ok, that might not make sense. But have you checked some of the trending topics in Kenya. They don’t trend because the serious Kenyans with big ideas are talking about them, they trend because a few creative jokers are making people laugh using the those hashtags. The jokers get attention of other twitter users who retweet their lines over and over. If you add that to the serious tweeps trying to reason about the the topic, then you get your trending topic. Even serious topic like NTV killing Ngenga Karume when he was still alive got numerous jokes that at the end forced NTV to act. Take the example of #SomeoneTellCNN, one line which is stuck in my mind was “#SomeoneTellCNN we are done with outsourcing Presidents to them, Obama will not run for second term” Such are the things which get like 100 RTs hence creating trending topic. Back to TwitterBigStick, the impact is not concentrated enough to force companies to listen. TwitterBigStick has a sizable crowd capable of making a difference but diluted by time and spread. The only companies in Kenya which get concentrated wrath of people are Kenya Power and some ISPs when the internet is down. The ISPs have learned their lessons and at least trying to meet people’s expectation.. As for Kenya Power..the question is utado? To make the long reason short, Twitter Big stick is too scattered to make an impression in some organizations.
2. Too General and Too common
If we take it for example that twitter is the only social media around and everyone online is on twitter, then again I find the issue of having one monolithic hashtag not helping. TwitterBigStick too general and now becoming too common. How many people take time to go through the TwitterBigStick hashtag timeline apart from @Sunnysunwords himself? Most people just see those which pass through their TL when they are online. Compare that to topics which end up trending where people who miss the beginning dedicate their time to check everything said in their absence . It would be helpful to use let say two hashtags at the same time for each sentiment especially if you must use hashtag twitter big stick..So like you would say #Twitterbigstick #KenyapowerMess or #TwitterBigStick #SoemoneTellCNN. May be someone should come up with database for hashtags covering the sentiment for each company in Kenya. Then move on to map the complaints using those hashtags..Stick the sentiments about each company together and also separate the noises
3. Useless Voices Spoiling the Party
This might come out partly as a contradiction of the first point. I have looked at the TwitterBigStick timeline and sometime I see many useless things. Some of the things people say do not make sense . I have seen someone say his phone is about to die with hashtag Twitterbigstick. And that was not someone commenting about the short life span of the phone battery but basically someone who had not charged his phone. For the brands which are new on twitter, they probably look at that and the only conclusion thy make is that the place is full of jokers.
4. Loud Voices in small Lake
Kenyans on Twitter are the so called early adopters, and among them are the loudest people online you will find around. The problem is, if you take the population of people on twitter compared to the total number of Kenyans online, then you get a small percentage. Not sure but my estimate is that we have between 200, 000 to 250,000 on twitter. It quite a number but taking into consideration that majority of those are what we call lurkers or the “Silent Majority” , then you get around 10K active people. That is a number that companies like KPLC can afford to ignore. Sometime during Safaricom Media Workshop, Nzioka explained that they have not been using twitter as marketing point because there are still no critical numbers to support that, although it is almost getting there. Facebook to them has the numbers, a fact that, I think many brands are aware of. Any social media discourse that does not include Facebook is not making sense to some people at this point.. For that we need MKZBigStick to lend a hand to TwitterBigStick
5. John The Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness
If you go back to the bible, you find a story of John The Baptist preaching on the wilderness telling all the trees and the leaves that could listen that someone bigger than him is coming, someone he was not worthy of untying his shoe lace. John was meant to pave way for Jesus, introduce the son of God’s story to people, but the more I read the story the more realize that probably John did not do his job properly. When Jesus came it is like he had to start from the scratch. That probably explains why wherever he went people ware always surprised to hear him speak. They did not get the message in advance, something John the Baptist was meant to have done. John went to the wilderness to deliver his message instead of towns or villages, where people were. Twitter is full of the consumers, but the problems is, the companies which the BigStick is aimed at are not on Twitter. So the first step will be to bring them to twitter or go where they are.
6. Nyani haoni kundule
People have been complaining about the overlapping cars and everyday you see the same madness. But this is not just about complaints, most of the people talking about the overlapping themselves do it in regular basis. I once got a lift from someone who is very loud when comes to BigSticking the overlappers , and let me just say I am still shocked … Probably it is high time people start BigSticking themselves.