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‘Politicians must weigh social media activity impact’

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Politicians have been urged to measure the impact of their activity on social media and find a way to harvest posts (or tweets) by those they interact with to formulate viable policies.

Report by Cecilia Kamuputa

Speaking at the ‘TweetT@ble’ round-table event held at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Harare on Wednesday, Alpha Media Holdings Editor-in-Chief, Vincent Kahiya said social media interaction for politicians was not supposed to be just a ‘feel-good’ thing but a vehicle to help devise helpful strategies.

“This is now about quality issues on social media,” said Kahiya. “ Do you know the people you follow on Twitter, do you know their tweeting habits and is there a way of curating their tweets to come up with policies that help the nation?”

“We are very happy to say we have 10 000 followers, but your impact might be less than that of a person who has 3000 good quality followers.”

Kahiya urged the politicians to improve their content on their sites and pages so as to garner more followers. He gave an example of how the Baba Jukwa Face Book page was the fastest rising page, getting an average of 15 000 followers in two days.

“This has something to do with content, Baba Jukwa has managed to give people information they have been starved of hence he is gaining followers every day.”

Speaking at the same event, Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere said social media had provided a platform for him to interact with young people as he is aiming to push an indigenisation and youth empowerment agenda.

“I have to reach the youths wherever they are, even when they are travelling, they still have their phones and can access Twitter,” said Kasukuwere.

Another panelist, Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Jessie Majome, said since she did not have a constituency office, she used social media to reach out to people.

“Social media because it is direct, there are limits, no hassles, I tweet stuff straight from my head into the ‘tweeter sphere’,” she said.

MDC Spokesperson, Nhlanhla Dube said he found social media a fertile ground for ‘fishing’ for his party’s support.

“We looked at the changes in our social political environment and realised that people arew spending more time on social media, it became important for us to find people where they are.”

The event, themed ‘How Zimbabwean Politicians Use Social Media’ was organised by @263Chat in collaboration with The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with Nigel Mugamu moderating.

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