Kenya: Public Servants Must Have a Strategy for Social Networking


Three days after being sworn into office the new Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga's first order of business included establishing a presence on social media.

Dr Mutunga's appointment had generated a lot of media fanfare that endeared the jurist to many Kenyans giving him a loyal fan base.

It therefore did not come as a surprise to Kenyans on Twitter when Dr Mutunga, under the handle @WMmutunga got over 4,000 followers within his first 24 hours on Twitter. With just about 11 tweets, the CJ currently has over 6,300 followers on Twitter and counting. His equally popular Facebook page is approaching nine thousand fans with dozens of comments and likes per hour.

The use of social media for advertising and brand promotion has been well adopted by many firms in corporate Kenya. Whether or not these firms properly utilise their social media presence is a subject for another day.

It is however clear that the public service is finally getting on board the social media bandwagon in a move that is likely to see major realignments in the way public servants conduct their business with the citizens emerging as the major winners.

Dr Mutunga's debut in social media is the latest move by a high profile public servant to establish a presence on social media. Leading public figures on Twitter and Facebook include presidential hopefuls Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Martha Karua, and William Ruto.

The election of US president Barrack Obama into office was largely attributed to his successful adoption of an ardent social media campaign that appealed to young voters. Even after being elected into office, president Obama maintains an active Twitter account (@BarackObama) with over 40,000 active followers. Rwandan president Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) is also an active user of Twitter with over 18,000 followers. The tech savvy president has been known to respond directly to questions raised by fans and critics alike.

It is perhaps these examples that are inspiring Kenyan public servants to embrace social media. Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta this year used an iPad 2 to make his presentation and using his official twitter account, @UKenyatta relayed updates on the developments of the entire process.

Experts are however cautioning that rushing into the world of social media without a properly laid out communication policy could be disastrous.