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Zimbabwe’s Politics and Other Reasons For The Rise Of Twitter Usage

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Twitter Tweetstorm

More and more Zimbabweans are preferring to use 280 characters to convey their thoughts to other countrymen these days. I’m talking about the rise of Twitter usage in Zimbabwe. Facebook was once the prefered social network to hang out but of late many Zimbabweans are now calling Twitter their new home to socialise.

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According to StatsCounter, an average of 2.3% social media users used Twitter in 2015 in Zimbabwe and in 2018 the microblogging site was being used by an average of 11.57% – thus a 9% growth in 3 years. The question is: What is it really that’s been causing this rise in the use of Twitter in Zimbabwe

Politics and Political figures

The use of Twitter by political figures like Jonathan Moyo, the President, Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti and others is playing a huge role in making Twitter visible to many Zimbabweans. Each of these guys is influential public figures, so when these guys made Twitter their prefered podium to address supporters, people started to look for Twitter.

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For people like Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti, they chose to put across their political messages on Twitter (and other social media platforms) because the biased state media was not giving them a chance to use their mediums. Accordingly, the ardent followers of these politicians decided to embark on the Twitter ship to hear them. The use of Twitter by politicians to sideline mainstream mediums can be traced back to politicians like Donald Trump who chose to use Twitter to address their supporters instead of using publications like Fox News.

Above all, since late 2017 to last year during the elections, there was just so much that was happening in the political sphere in Zimbabwe that made people interested with the latest news. And twitter was where much of the latest news was being found.

Bundles

The conventional wisdom is that people find it affordable to use a certain service if they use bundles. A few years ago, Mobile Network Operators (MNO) introduced data bundles for use on Twitter (Twitter bundles). Above all, Econet allowed its army of subscribers (the largest in Zim) to access Twitter free of charge. This had a snowball effect where Econet subscribers who had learned the ropes of using Twitter, and were enjoying, started to draw other subscribers from other MNOs to come on the microblogging site.

Even though other MNO’s didn’t give their subscribers Twitter freebies like Econet, they introduced very cheap data bundles that made it super cheap for the average Zimbabwean to start to use Twitter religiously.

Publications breaking news

The nature of Twitter itself makes it appealing to media companies and firms to break news on the microblogging site. It’s said that 92% of all activity and engagement with a tweet happens in the first hour of the post being made. Accordingly, the likes of Herald, Newsday, Daily News and many others are now in the habit of tweeting breaking news and later on put the full story on their sites. Therefore when screenshots of breaking news (this usually happened) start to make rounds, people are seeing that Twitter is the place to be.

Twitter is centred around real-time conversation, while Facebook is more of an ongoing conversation that people get to eventually. Furthermore, the hashtag feature which makes it very easy to follow the latest news and trends on Twitter is making the platform preferable to Facebook.

Oped door policy

On social networks like Facebook, people make connections with family, relatives and friends who know a certain portion of them (be its school life, childhood, etc.). Knowing that Zimbabwe’s society is conservative, some people are forced to filter their liberal views on Facebook fearing that their close connections will judge them.

The good thing about Twitter is that its less about social connections but more about engaging in interesting topics and conversations- nothing proves that twitter doesn’t value social connections than the fact that you can follow someone on Twitter without their approval. As a result, Zimbabweans are preferring to use Twitter to voice their opinions on burning political and social issues.

Customer service

Then there is the increasing use of Twitter to protest to service providers and other companies. Not wanting their name to be soiled, companies are quickly adressing the complaints that customers post on Twitter and other social media platforms. Actually, the reason why my girlfriend got to be on Twitter is that she wanted to shame Zesa and have it address her problem which had gone days without being fixed. In a few hours after posting her compaint on Zesa’s Twitter, her matter was solved. This simple reason is contributing to the reliance of Twitter in Zimbabwe.

Meme and challenges

Everybody likes meme’s, particularly those that ridicule politicians- they stimulate our humour more often than not. It so happens that many of these memes are coming from Twitter. Furthermore, Twitter is famous for its hilarious challenges, like the CharityCharambaChallenge. As a result, many people are getting interested in using Twitter so that they won’t miss out.


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