With the mandate to grow the Kenyan blogging community, BAKE took the Blogging and Social Media Training, courtesy of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to Embu. Kenya is a diverse country and the ability to reach all corners and acknowledge the various ethnic group in the country will make blogging accommodating to all communities. The county of Embu is filled with an enormous diversity of landscape, immense farming prospects as well as facing societal issues that need to see the light of day. Blogging and social media are platforms where the opportunities and challenges that face a county can be showcased and hence forth addressed by the people themselves and the government. Stories told by the people for the people are able to reach a much wider reach than outsiders who choose to showcase the story.
The online community in Embu was shown the basic tips and tricks anyone should have before starting a blog. Knowing one’s target audience is the number one priority for almost all bloggers. You cannot write to online ghosts and expect the content to be read and for your blog to automatically grow because it is online. Defining one’s passion is also critical since the blogging will become much easier as you will always seek to look for content to write on since you enjoy what you are doing from the beginning. Passion also distinguishes blogs that start and stop during the same month verses those that continue years on from the beginning.
The need to have a plan and stick to it was wholly highlighted. Writing only once a month or even once in a while renders your readers hopeless and tend to ignore your blog. Whenever you publish a post, your readers may not realize since the consistency of putting up posts is wanting. The advantage of being a consistent blogger is the growth one will get since people can trust that weekly or daily posts will be available for a good read.
The participants at the Embu training also got to learn about the other types of blogging. This include micro-blogging on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and Vlogging, which is basically video blogging. Free blogging platforms such as WordPress and BlogSpot were suggested for blogging as they are easier platforms to begin considering the technical skills required to manage a website.
Online content creators have an important role to play as part of the wider public knowledge creation and discussion. The online community in Embu was taken through intellectual property rights, specifically, copyright and social media ethics. Bloggers were cautioned on using other people written or photography content and claiming the content is solely theirs. This can lead to a person to be shamed online or their social media account or blog closed. They were also advised on what they showcase more so when dealing when sensitive issues where the people involved are minors or adults who don’t want their image or voice to appear on online platforms.
It is always advisable to always give credit where it is due. This shows respect as a blogger to others in the online community. It would also prevent any fraud cases from occurring and authenticity would be looked up to from every individual.
Online platforms offer Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Information and Freedom of Content Creation which are the basic elements of a democracy. However, this immense power comes with great responsibilities. Participants were cautioned about posting hate messages, negativity about the company one works or is associated with or defaming anyone on the online platform. It is important to exude honesty and trustworthy while conducting oneself on the online platforms.
As an online community organization, we hope to see more content from Embu in the blogging, vlogging and micro-blogging scene. Areas of specialty in the region range from Agriculture, Women and Girls Empowerment, Social Issues and Active Citizenship, public health and tourism.