Imagine for a minute that you decide to look for information about a certain public figure. You go to Google and type the name, and chances are you will get a few hits on news websites and perhaps a random, badly edited Wikipedia page.
What if you searched the internet, and landed on hundreds (possibly) thousands of results, all by local authors. The information will be seen as more reliable, and you will be able to get a clearer picture of the subject of your search. Now what if all the bloggers, online journalists in their own right, were writing something negative/positive about someone/something? Wouldn’t you be swayed by their opinions?
Politicians are realizing the power of the internet, social media and bloggers. If every scandal they were involved in could be explained away, and every good thing magnified, then it would be a politician’s dream come true.
Elections in Kenya are due next year, and politicians on early campaigns are looking for ways to sway voters. Bloggers and other online content generators may not have as much influence as newspapers and radio, but they are a force to reckon with. With even 50 or so bloggers generating positive content about someone online, anyone who uses the internet, from the international community to Kenyans in the Diaspora, is bound to be influenced.
Recently, Prime Minister Raila odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Raphael Tuju, all presidential wannabes, have held meetings with bloggers. The main purpose was to interact with them, inform them of their vision for Kenya and hopefully the bloggers will help them in their campaigns for the top seat.
One thing about bloggers is that they tend to be candid and uncensored. Since they write on their own sites and do not have editors breathing down their neck, they speak their minds. To engage successfully with bloggers, one needs to be open to the biting questions that will be asked and be willing to discuss issues head on. Bloggers don’t want to be fed sugar coated quotes popular with the mainstream media, they want the raw footage.
The internet is a powerful tool, and more than just having a website/blog, and a social media presence, engaging those that have influence in social media is definitely a wise move by the politicians. Those who can rush and get a loyal following early will be at an advantage.