At Shujaaz, we believe that social media can be used to create social change. Our Theory of Change is that collective discussion leads to collective belief, which ultimately, over time, creates new social norms. So a big focus of all we do with Shujaaz is to get young East Africans discussing online.
My job as ‘Team Leader: Social Media’ for Shujaaz is not your usual social media management job. Our pages don’t belong to Shujaaz or to Well Told Story, they belong to our fictional hero, the famed ‘DJ’. The DJ is extremely loved and loyally followed by over 1million fans across all of his social media platforms in Kenya and Tanzania. However, it’s not the number of people who like his pages that is impressive – anyone can buy page likes. It’s the level of engagement that sets him apart. Some of his posts generate 500+ comments and trigger a deep, personal and incredibly revealing conversation that tells us huge amounts about his fans and where they stand on important issues.
How does the DJ get such awesome engagement? Here are my top tips:
We are singing off the same hymn sheet
The DJ’s official language is sheng, the language for the rebels & youth. It’s a language created to alienate adults. If you want to say something to a friend in the presence of your elders that you don’t want them to hear, then you opt for sheng. As a result, our Facebook page is packed full of outrageous, honest conversations – it’s an adult free space. Speak their language, and they’ll speak to you.
Be A Problem Solver
On average the DJ receives 2,000 messages each day across his social media pages. 20% of these are requests for his help. Whether it’s a relationship issue, looking for employment opportunities or more serious life-crisis such as an unplanned pregnancy, they all turn to the DJ for help because they don’t know where else to turn. Some of the more urgent & sensitive messages require expert advice and we connect them to our partners LVCT (Liverpool Voluntary Counseling Centre). So it’s key that we keep giving something back to our fans – it’s not a one-way conversation.
It wouldn’t be realistic to expect the DJ to answer every cry for help on his own. So with permission he shares the messages he receives with his community of Shujaaz fans and asks them to share their advice. This is a guaranteed way to get our fans engaged, everyone has something to say and in turn this builds a sense of community and shared responsibility amongst our fans.
Have some fun
Studies show that 72% of people go online in search of entertainment and Shujaaz fans are no different. That’s why funny videos, memes and everyday banter are essential to keeping our audience coming back to our social media pages. If we just filled them with message driven ‘do this / do that’ posts our fans would go running for the hills, or more likely a funnier, cooler page than ours. Keep it funny and keep your fans where you want them.
Give them what they want
For an active social media engagement, it’s essential that you know what your audience want. You need to be able to answer the question ‘what are your pages giving your audience?’. Young people pretty much want ‘more sex and more money’ and more fun. So the DJ helps them get it! Young people want to make a bit of money but increasingly opportunities in the formal job market simply aren’t available. Many Shujaaz fans ask the DJ which hustles will make them the most money, how to invest the small capital they have, how to overcome a certain challenge they’re facing with a hustle etc. The DJ not only responds with recommendations but also crucially connects them other hustlas in the Shujaaz community. We’ve been steadily building a network of hustlas who can engage with each other online to help each other.
Our pages are full of people looking for connection and attention. So the DJ brings the audience centre stage – he shares fan photos on his social media pages, he re-tells their stories from social media back in the comic & radio show, he gives shout outs. Everyone wants bragging rights and so they quickly share the media they feature in with their friends ‘Look I appeared in Shujaaz!’ thus widening Shujaaz’s circle. Fame brings attention and this attention is more than welcome especially if its from the opposite sex1 Everyone is looking for connection. And we are happy to facilitate this. It’s all about giving our audience what they want, where they want it, while adding purpose and connection to their lives.
By Farida Nzilani: Team Leader Social Media