The significance of the micro-blogging site, Twitter is slowly gathering some space in people’s lives. In a space of two weeks, The New Times has run three stories on Twitter and how it is being used in Rwanda.
I happen to use the facility and I follow folks from different parts of the world. Since I love to perceive myself as an East African I do have a fair share of Rwandans, Ugandans, Kenyans, Tanzanians as well as Burundians on my list of followers. I must admit though that I have found the Kenyans to be more effective users of Twitter.
Considering how the Kenyans are using Twitter, I think it is only right for us, here in Rwanda, to also pick some lessons. I would like to draw your attention to a gentleman named Sunny Bindra, a regular columnist with Sunday Nation and author of a great book, “The Peculiar Kenyan.”
Sunny Bindra is also an ardent user of Twitter with the handle, @sunnysunwords where he describes himself as a writer, speaker, teacher and drumbeater. I am particularly drawn to the drumbeater aspect of his personality considering that he has done so much as far as calling for companies to address customer concerns is concerned.
Sunny came up with two Twitter hash tags #TwitterBigStick and #TwitterThumbsUp which Kenyans on Twitter now use regularly to either give credit or condemn a firm or person depending on how they may have behaved or acted.
For example, if one goes to a restaurant and the service is poor they can mention this on Twitter and use the hash tag #TwitterBigStick. People are even encouraged to add photos as evidence. Kenyans have, thus, adopted this to shame careless drivers who overlap during a traffic snarl up. It is worse if the driver works for a particular company.
In the same light, if one is served well while at a commercial establishment, he/she tweets about it using the hash tag #TwitterThumbsUp. Cases of quick service or even the follow up on a complaint by a customer often end in this category appreciation (thumbs up) while the opposite will earn the company the wrath of those on Twitter (the big stick).
What I have loved about this whole idea is the fact that Kenyans who experience annoying customer service have a new platform where they can vent their anger and actually be heard. No company would love to be a laughing stock on social media sites. Some are forced to respond and improve their services immediately to save face. Social media can be a very cruel environment.
It is great that instead of simply whining about how bad a company is, recurrent noise is made on a platform that has the capacity of making one’s cry go viral in such a short time consequently destroying all the good public relations that may have been accumulated from great advertising.
I think it is high time Rwandans borrowed a leaf from Kenyans on this same issue. We should name and shame those who take customers for granted using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Even where credit is due we should say. These sites empower us to speak out and so we should not suffer in silence.