Back in 2007 before Facebok and Twitter were household names in the country I was craving for social media interaction, though at that time they word wasn’t coined yet, they were simply referred to as forums or chat rooms, don’t even mention YouTube because we hadn’t discovered fibre yet. One of the challenges that I met on my quest on finding Kenyan chat rooms and forums was getting the hosting websites, most hadn’t know of Search Engine Optimization, it was hell landing on one unless they exclusively advertise on Google Ads. I embarked on a search mission to find them all and wrote them down on my notebook which I’m staring at the moment and smiling, flash disks were still expensive at the time and cloud computing was a corporate jargon.
Here is a list of the site written on my notebook
- Mashada – http://www.mashada.xom
- Target Kenya – http://www.targetkenya.com
- Mambogani – http://www.mambogani.com
- Mcheko – http://www.mcheko.com
- Mteja – http://www.mteja.com
- Mabeshte – http://www.mabeshte.com
- Kenya Students – http://www.advance-africa-forum.com
- Bwana Zulia – http://www.bwanazulia.com
Most of these website are no longer functional apart from Mashada that is still providing accomodation to the lunatics. One particular aspect to note is that during that time there was a lot of online activity only that it wasn’t centralized and given a name (social media). My favorite chat room was Capital FMs chat service that got crowded starting 7:00 pm, an after work hanging spot and not to forget Advance Africa Forum that hosted diverse Africa nationals but most of them being Kenyan though.
An innovative idea that came during this time was a Kenyan website that hosted music celebrities ta given times and fans could log on and interact with their favourite artists. It was fun, just knowing that your favourite artists will be available for chat at given time on a one-on-one basis or as a group. However, this success was short lived as Facebook rendered the idea obsolete, everyone preferred to interact with the artist on their Facebook pages any time as opposed to an alloted time.
Just before Facebook there was a website that attempted to be Facebook, it was called Graduates, a portal for high school and college graduates to meet. The only bottleneck it has was what will these people do after meeting up? Facebook answered that question pretty well, the students would be able to update their status and share photos, this concept proved revolutionary and it catapulted Facebook to the celebrity status. It gave a dynamic experience lacking in the forums and discussion websites, and then we begot the social media.
Twitter came in and democratized status updates and forced people to be concise and creative. It provided a sort of alternative for people who didn’t not like getting personal and like generating ideas or vent their anger to the world. Now, a series of social media platforms have sprung up to claim a share of anything social, though blogs pre-dated Facebook and Twitter, it’s the viral nature of these platforms that promoted blogging as a social media strategy. Whatever you do remember social media is not social without your participation, it just another website.