Social media played a critical role in this year’s Kenya elections, which were the first general elections held under the new constitution by providing voters with relevant information, and in opening up debate and dialogue.
During the first quarter of this year, Google was actively involved in leveraging its social media platform, Google+, to promote access to information useful to the electorate, and to drive peace and goodwill messages. Google Kenya collaborated with the United Nations System in Kenya, and other partners to encourage Kenyans to ‘Shabikia Amani na Kura Yako’ (Support Peace with Your Vote), using Google+ Hangouts as a cornerstone for the campaign (see awareness videos from Harambee Stars and the Kenya Rugby 7s team). The national interactive campaign was aimed at engagingKenyans to promote peace before, during and after the March 4, 2013 general election. Sports personalities from football, rugby and athletics, took part in the campaign, dubbed the “Sports 4 Peaceful Elections” campaign using Google+ Hangouts as the main social media platform.
During the interactive Google+ Hangouts, the sports stars urged Kenyans to be “fans of peace” in the lead up and during the elections, to enable Kenyans to keep doing what they love.
The collaboration brought together Google Kenya, the United Nations System in Kenya, IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission), NCIC (National Cohesion and Integration Commission), Kenya Premier League, Kenya Football Federation, Athletics Kenya and the Kenya Rugby Union. The Hangout series ran for a period of 8 weeks.
The initiative came after Google Kenya launched its elections hub, a portal where voters, journalists and campaigns were able to easily track news, trends information related to the elections, and its elections YouTube channel, which allowed Kenyans to follow the latest news and trends on the political scene, and engage with each other.
A number of examples include the December 21 Ghetto Radio Hangout with Hon Mike Sonko for a discussion with the Glass House where presenters Mbusii and Linda hosted an interactive forum. Feb 16: Ghetto Radio’s ‘Ghettogether’ Concert Hangouts featuring artists taking part in the ‘Make Love Not War’ Hangouts Series and the Feb 25: Kenya Debates II YT Livestream + Hangouts.