A Decade of Facebooking in Uganda
Reminiscing about the World’s most popular Social website
This week today, Facebook celebrates 10years of rocking our social media frenzy. I have had lots of friends who have joined and divorced the platform, some have met via Facebook and gotten married, as for break ups I don’t want to start. Lots have been stalked, blocked, poked the list is endless, the great stories are when people transact successful businesses via this social media platform; and that always puts a smile on my face. So expect some kind of big deal celebrations from Facebook outpouring reflection of its past and speculation about its future.
Company Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched platform with a slightly different name “Thefacebook” at Harvard University on February 4, 2004 in his dorm room. The website that was meant to be away for Harvad students to connect internally in the university, which turned out to be the biggest invention on the web with over 1.2 billion people— and is used by an estimated 1/7th of the world’s population—check stats HERE.
Zuckerberg goes down memory lane
Last week the 29 year old Facebook CEO reflected on the ten-year milestone at an industry conference in Silicon Valley. As every startup, he says he never foresaw Facebook becoming so large or influential. What began as a hobby he figured at the time that someone, someday would build such a site for the world. “It didn’t even occur to me that it could be us,” he said. Since then, Facebook’s site and its business, now a public company, have changed dramatically. There are now more than a trillion status updates, text posts and other pieces of content stored within its walls—the company is trying to index them as part of its Graph Search search engine.
The Ugandan Facebook Story
I personally joined Facebook in 2007, three years after its inception, it was a very tricky platform to use initially as there were few users in Uganda, figuring out who to associate with was not as simple task as most people were stranger. In fact, my first 10 Facebook friends were not even from my own country (sad and lonely place it was). Most people were still sucked up in other “social sites” like Myspace and writing via email to their Pen pals (locally read as ‘penipoz’) for those who used the internet back then.
The blossoming of social media platforms like Facebook in Uganda have been fueled by the advent of fast internet in Uganda in 2009 with the coming of carriers like Orange Uganda in the name of 3G connectivity, which placed fast internet speeds in the hands of every Ugandan who could afford. This, coupled with free Facebook mobile services from carriers like Airtel of recent have pushed the growth of the platform.
The number of Facebook users has grown rapidly since then and never looked back. With over 400,000 users and according to allin1social.com 67.7% of Facebook users in Uganda are male and the rest female. Most of the Facebook users tend to be in the age of 18 and 24 years, making a total 48.7% of the total Facebook users. These are followed by the 25-38 years age group occupying over 30% of Facebook users in Uganda.
Now we have Facebook for Business, with big brands in the country having followers in the hundreds of thousand “endorsing” their brands in terms of Facebook likes. The top ten list is overtaken by all the big four telecommunications companies led by MTN Uganda with over 225,000 likes that they celebrated last weekend, plus local Television stations like NTV feature in the list as you can see below. Lets not forget great Online News and Blog publication Websites like UGO Uganda that also get to grace the top ten popular brands on Facebook in Uganda.
The Future is still ‘blue’
While we have had Ugandans embrace other social media services like twitter and google plus —love it or hate it —Facebook is still king. The company was slow to react to the important mobile market and when it went public in 2012 investors were skeptical it would be able to monetize its service on smaller screens. But this week it reported that more than half its ad revenue now comes from mobile devices. Despite the flop of Facebook home (you can find my views about it HERE) that was launched on Android phones last year the company never gave up. This week it will release Paper, (US Only) an iPhone app that provides a new way to share photos and published articles. Am sure this app will hit Android devices soon and we shall get to see its being used by most Ugandans to replace their current Facebook apps. The way I see it, Facebook is Uganda is still the best way to connect to people, share content and promote businesses. Indeed the future is still ‘blue’ (the Facebook brand colors).
Do you see Facebook going another 10 years strong as it is today, with the current mushrooming social media sites?
Writer goes with the flow, or I could say a social media cyprian (for lack of a better word) !!!