When the first bus to transport the Digital Camp participants from Nairobi to Crayfish Camp Naivasha came to a standstill at the parking lot of the establishment, it took a while for the first person to alight after the driver had come round to open the door for us.
Not that we were tired per se, Naivasha is not an exhausting distance away from Nairobi (try Western Kenya or Mombasa) plus the driver had given us a twenty-minute break (which of course turned into thirty) to use the toilet, stretch and take in the beauty of the Great Rift Valley at the viewpoint on Mai Mahiu road. So we were not entirely exhausted. We were just slow.
We were however jolted from the slow-mode as soon as news reached us that the first presenter, Caroline Mutoko was sitting at the restaurant waiting to have her session. Grabbing our bags, we approached the reception desk to check in, then took our bags to the camping site where we would be spending the night in tents – someone say adventure galore!
Caroline Mutoko is meticulous. She was not only the first facilitator to open the Digital Camp sessions that Friday afternoon, she was also the first person from the Digital Camp team to reach Crayfish.
Her session kicked off with a 15-minute introduction on what she does and why she opted to start a YouTube channel. Why did she go off air? She simply moved where her audience was. They were no longer in Radio or Television or in print media. Her audience was online and that is where she needed to be.
Caroline acknowledged that power has shifted from the editors, the publishers and the media elite to everyone who is online. Yes, even those with bad spellings now have power.
It was clear from the onset that Caroline understands her audience. “You have to know the DNA of your audience to the T” she emphasized. She understands that there was a time that she owned the news, but that changed when news was broken as it happened, and in 140 characters nonetheless.
Caroline talked about Digital media; it is faster, it is shorter and it is now. Not at the top of the hour, or at 7pm in the evening – NOW! What you need to say can be said using 140 characters or less, and if that is not enough, add an image – this is a mantra she attributed to Kiss 100 Radio Presenter, Linda Nyangweso.
During her session, Caroline took the time to cite the difference that digital media brings into the way news is collected, packaged and ultimately delivered. She cautioned that what people need now is not another message, what they need is meaning. If your message is not relevant, it will be shoved to the sidelines. No one is interested in the same ‘ol anymore.
She advised content creators to remain cognizant of the fact that they do not write for themselves, but for their readers and to purpose to do so in order to stay relevant.
Caroline compared online engagements to dating where the relationship with your audience only flourishes through frequent and sustained engagement. This she blamed on the scarcity of attention which unfortunately cannot be bought, but has to be earned. She attributed her short Youtube videos to the fact that we live in the highest ADD culture of our time. She reiterated that people do not have time to watch 10-minute videos just like they have no time to read a 72-page newspaper.
And yes, the now popular Facebook videos is an option she is willing to explore.
While handling the Q and A session, the issue of Cyber bullying and trolling kept coming up and Caroline pointed out that this was an important conversation that needed to be had. Something that we are eager to pursue as well.
Caroline’s session was as engaging as it was enkindling. She was full of anecdotes that left participants reeling in laughter. It was such a fun session that we could not help cursing the restrictive nature of time when she had to leave.
This was the perfect kick-off to day one, session one of the Digital Camp Kenya 2015!
Get more of Caroline Mutoko’s insights by subscribing to her Youtube Channel.