By Tinashe Nyaruwanga
When Twitter was still starting up, one strategy it used to grow its subscriber base was to lure celebrities who in turn brought along multitudes of fans. Ashton Kutcher famously held a competition with CNN to see who would be the first to have One Million followers, a battle he won. When Oprah signed up on Twitter, half a million fans signed up in the within the 24 hours of her signing up, a record which remains up to now.
The fledging start-up that Evan Williams, Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone co-founded which turned publishing on its head, disrupted in how information is shared, played a role in revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa is the latest social media phenomenon to take root in Zimbabwe.
When I first signed up on Twitter, I was kind of dumbfounded, unsure of what to do and how to use it. I dawdled and played with it, shared a few status updates such as I am going to watch the movies, now sleeping, and a lot of trivial things.
I then hibernated only to return to Twitter and persisted with it. Now I have more than 4 thousand followers and have gained a bit of influence. Now it seems a lot of other Zimbabweans are signing up on Twitter, and the question is, what is it that is driving the sign ups?
In Zimbabwe celebrities such as Winky D a musician have over 9 thousand followers, TehnDiamond Musician (over 7000 followers) , Ruvheneko Parerinyatwa a Radio Personality(over 4000 followers), Mike Madoda a Sports caster (over 6000 followers), David Coltart Politician (over 17 thousand followers), Walter Mzembi Politician (12 thousand followers) . These have all helped drive usage in Zimbabwe as most of these are active and are always tweeting and sharing posts, news and status updates.
The Second Screen
There is a new thing happening on Twitter called the second screen which is being used to fuel interaction and engagement amongst viewers of TV programs or listeners of Radio program.
For example, there is a lot of banter, excitement exchanged during the English Premier League matches amongst Zimbabwean Fans who support different teams such as Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. Radio Personalities have also started asking for requests for opinions, songs on the platform. All this is driving usage of twitter in Zimbabwe.
Twitter is uncensored, raw and wild. Twitter allows people to join in the broader conversation of whatever is being discussed. Platforms such as #263chat have been used to discuss such.
There are no restrictions on Twitter, you can say whatever you want, and your update will be seen by whoever is following you provided that there are online. There is no EdgeRank or an Algorithm like on Facebook to channel and control what’s shown in the user timelines, it’s raw, wild and uncensored.
Virality of Twitter
Twitter is used as a media outlet where people report what they are seeing in real life, share videos of what they find interesting and share blogposts. Unlike Whatsapp where one is limited to people in his or her contact list and is sometimes private, a post on Twitter has the potential of reaching a larger audience and has more chances of going viral.
Lance Guma of Nehandaradio.com has understood this fast. A few of his videos has achieved viral Zimbabwean status after sharing them on Twitter.
What about You?
What has drawn you to Twitter? What do you enjoy most about Twitter. Share with me your thoughts about on the comments section or on any of the social networks.