As we put enough efforts in understanding where we are, we also focus on looking ahead.

2013 has been such an amazing year for Rwanda’s social media arena. It is the year in which a couple of local businesses embraced social advertising, and the same year in which real-time marketing became a key element of communications strategies.
It’s been a year of significant advances in understanding better ways of engaging users on different platforms, mainly Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And, as the journey continues, many would wonder what’s next.

Here are our top 10 Predictions for where Rwanda is heading on social media in 2014:

1 – More businesses and NGOs will rush to paid advertising.

You have certainly noticed the many “sponsored” – among others – posts on Facebook by a local business or non-profit. They are products of strong interest in social media and belief in its potential to reach out to people, improve brand visibility and communicate about programmes or even products.

2 – Government projects and NGOs will embrace visual storytelling.

Some will argue that we’re in the era of visual content. Others will say differently. But, believe it or not, visual contents are spreading out the word quicker than ever before. A short YouTube video will go viral in just lapses of seconds – even before you finish uploading a six-second Vine video. And, besides, Instagram is also finding its way through.

3 – Twitter will continue to grow in size and importance.

Since Rwanda’s most influential political figures, including President Paul Kagame, started tweeting, Twitter became an essential platform for the country to tell its story to the world. This is where a diverse range of opinion leaders share, in real-time, ideas on issues that affect the lives on Rwandans. Many have joined in to communicate directly to the Government, make their voices heard, or spread the word about what’s going on here and there.
Twitter is what President Kagame’s perspective describes as a “very important” platform. Obviously, this is a big thing around here.

4 – Marketers and social media enthusiasts will continue to explore Pinterest.

Pretty engaging graphics and interactive design products make better campaigns on Pinterest. With lack of skills related to the oversight, growth in use and importance are expected to be as slow as in 2012 but not, at least, 2013. Despite continued exploration, it’s hard to say people will yet discover the full potential of the platform.

5 – #Kwibuka20 will be the most important hashtag.

It’s been a ritual: “national events” are now branded with vibrant and clearly crafted hashtags. We had, in 2012, #RwandaRemembers18 and #Kwibuka19 in 2013, and as Rwanda prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and of course Rwanda’s liberation by the then Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), there is – certainly – a big campaign coming up.

Sources in Government Communications circles say #Kwibuka20 will be the official hashtag for the commemoration; one that everyone would constantly like to see appear in their timeline and contribute to.

6 – More spoken word artists, musicians and media practitioners will sign up to Soundcloud.

Poorly branded on social networking sites, Rwandan artists are yet to increase their online presence. There is hope that a number of most influential figures in Rwanda’s entertainment sphere, journalists, and media houses, will decide to fill in Soundcloud’s “sign up” form.

7 – The use of Instagram will get more attention.

From one of our recent blogs: “Unlike Facebook, Instagram provides a unique way to experience cool images and the interface is less chaotic and easy to navigate. We, at Ejo, believe in the power of Instagram such as you do! Let’s share more pictures.”

8 – Content on YouTube will continue to be dominated by music.

It’s true that music videos continue to dominate what YouTube users in Rwanda consume. Entertainment “promoters” have invaded the network and they will not even hesitate to upload audio tracks to their channels – since some of them have attracted numerous subscriptions.

9 – Blogging and bloggers will gain momentum. Even more.

As more Rwandans, especially the youth, continue to embrace writing and content sharing through the social web, blogs are becoming more and more active. Bloggers, such as Eric NgangareSonia Uwimana,Fiona Kamikazi and Jean Christophe Nsanzimana, are proof of how much the young are eager to share their thoughts and views on a diverse range of issues. They have grown to inspire others to join in and have already gained the hearts of  many readers. WordPress and co., get ready for more content about Rwanda, by Rwandans!

10 – The University of Rwanda (UR) will attract many followers.

Currently armed with no official social media accounts – apart from those run by its colleges, the newly established “One University” will attract masses. It’s obvious and many are waiting to see how the all-in-one institution will develop yet another brand to represent Rwanda’s higher education. Wait for the country’s towers of wisdom umbrella to sign up and see crowds throng in pressing the follow button.

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