Graduation Day Online Wars In Kenya And How It Brings The School Community Together

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Graduation marks the end of years of toil and the struggle that University education is. Exit the old way of conducting graduation ceremonies and in comes a new way that involves the office of Corporate Communications with robust social media strategies with mainly an aim to bring the University fraternity and community together. A quick glimpse on the graduation ceremonies of major Kenyan higher learning institutions that have been held over recent years you will notice that on days leading to the Graduation and on the D-Day social media is rife with hashtags and keywords that cover the specific university’s graduation ceremony.

With the hashtags, the school fraternity and community get to share the university’s milestone achievements and what makes the university stand out. A case study is the most recently held joint graduation ceremony of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences Technology and Innovation.

One with a keen eye on the social media space will notice that JKUAT held its 34th graduation on the same day that Egerton University held its 41st graduation ceremony on 29th November 2019. These saw some of Kenya’s best social media strategists put their best foot forward on the social media space to get Kenyans talking about the institutions.

Dynamics of Social Media Influencing

To those who may not understand, the field of social media influencing is a tough one and for a campaign like this for instance, the competition runs deep. It is about who gets to reach more of the target audience and what appeal they create on that audience. A well managed and successful campaign will also secure the social media strategists gigs from other corporates. It’s a matter of whose agenda gets and seen more on the social media scene.

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As early as from 6 AM Egerton University’s event was already trending at number 2 on Twitter with the hashtag #Egerton41Graduation2019 under the stewardship of one Viola as the strategist and lead with the help of her team that includes Collins Owino and Peter Kariuki. Three hours later JKUAT was trending at number one with the hashtag #JKUATPAUGrad2019 and it stayed at the position for the better part of the day and early Saturday morning as the engagements of Egerton University continued dwindling very fast. Social Media strategist Theo Mwangi attributes JKUAT’s successful campaign to his team’s strategy to get the community to join in in the conversation rather than paying influencers to make the hashtag trend.

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Social Media Strategist Theo
photo: courtesy

Strategies of Social Media Influencing.

Theo with his team of strategists that include Eldon Kevlan and Yvonne Waithira employ this type of influencing that keeps the conversation going among the target audience. It is set up that even with a minimal number of paid influencers, the hashtag can trend as the audience keep engaging on the topic. This makes it a more organic type of social media influencing. It is almost like the new era influencing that has no hashtags but keywords that the target audience relates with are used and thus the influencers shape what the target audience is talking about. This method was so spot on that after one hour the graduation was also trending organically at number three with word ‘Juja’.

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On the other hand, Egerton’s method of solely paid influencing is purely fueled by money and influencers with minimal participation of the target audience thus the hashtag does not stay for so long and thus does not create the intended appeal or impact on its target audience.

If the number of impressions created by JKUATS and Egerton’s strategists are anything to go by, then the former’s method proves to be more effective a method of influencing. Theo’s team was able to achieve 368.8k impressions at the close of the day with a potential reach of 198k. These are solid numbers that are every social media’s stakeholder dream.

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