As the old adage goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, is the story Safaricom have walked with Kenyan blogging community. From the beginning, the telco has walked with bloggers through thick and thin, supporting different initiatives, helping bloggers to grow but also increasing their brand visibility online.
From a blogging community growth perspective, there have been both direct and indirect contributions by Safaricom. But what has also been interesting has been the telco’s appreciation of criticisms from members of the community. You have Kennedy Kachwanya, the Chairman of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) publishing what will itch the telco, but they still accept to sponsor BAKE Awards.
In its six years’ history, Safaricom has sponsored BAKE Awards five times. It is evident that they have been consistent in their support which has seen blogs grow in Kenya. Some of the past winners; Mutua Matheka (mutuamatheka.co.ke), Silvia Njoki (silvianjoki.com), Sharon Mundia (thisisess.com), Jackson Biko (bikozulu.co.ke), Sam Wakoba (techmoran.com), Dennis Machio (michezoafrica.com) and Limo Taboi (bankelele.co.ke) have grown their platforms both in content and traffic and business.
The telco itself has been in existence for ten years, showing how they easily associate with upcoming initiatives which align to their growth and growth of the media landscape.
Capture Kenya has also been another direct support to the blogging community. Bloggers and photographers have taken to visiting different parts of the country to document the diverse cultural experiences lived by all and sundry. The appreciation of our livelihoods and the opportunity to showcase creative talents while being paid is something to be proud of.
The output of the initiative has been calendars with the exiting photos of Kenya and rich, creative stories on blogs about the country.
Bloggers have also gotten business from Safaricom. Through the BAKE, native advertising content and banner advertisement have seen bloggers eke a living. The amount that has directly gone to bloggers pockets has yet to be determined, but the telco always looks for interesting ideas to support and bloggers have taken advantage of the window to grow themselves.
The age of the influencer at hand, they have not been left behind. Kenyans online with huge social media influence has been paid to document events and processes. Having a huge following is considered having a media, a voice of authority, which they have tapped to reach to digital natives.
In addition, bloggers have also benefitted from Safaricom Business Journalism training. Lifestyle blog, Potentash founder Rayhab and Biznews founder Abel Muhatia were last year chosen to join journalists from mainstream media taking part in the training. The training in partnership with Strathmore Business School aimed at underscoring the role that media plays in creating an open window for investments through in-depth analytical business reporting.
It is has however not been a straight line as such. Some bloggers have also published content that have found them in court for defamation. For instance Cyprian Nyakundi has two cases; one against Safaricom and another against Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore and former CEO Michael Joseph. The two defamation cases are still pending hence Nyakundi is innocent, until the due process proves otherwise.
On the one hand bloggers like Nyakundi have been used by corporates to not only deny bloggers business but also cast aspersions on the blogging community in general. But other corporates have chosen to engage others who they feel still do meaningful and credible online content generation. Safaricom is one such corporate.
The beauty is that even if bloggers who have been paid by Safaricom decline to publish some posts, which they feel would turn them away, if the issues are genuine, they have still been published. The diversity of the voices and opportunity to highlight issues of concern still get coverage. The telco can therefore not hide anything which should be known to the general public, especially if they have dirt.
Blogging is just one thing, much much more has been done and a lot can be achieved when things are done with the community in mind.