By Briege Mwangi
How do we know if we can trust a person or service online, and if so, to what degree? How certain can we be that a person or service is in fact who they claim to be? What kinds of information are we willing to reveal to people or services we encounter online, and how will they use it and protect it from misuse?
How certain are we that our private communications will not be shared publicly? Who is able to view our communications, and what could they do with this information? What steps can we take to protect our information and communications? These are some of the issues that were discussed during a recent media event hosted by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The guest speaker at the event was Mr. Kennedy Kachwanya, the chairman of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE).
Mr. Kachwanya created an open forum discussion for the Strathmore Communication Students to delve deep into the intricacies surrounding the digital space. He spoke on how to harness social media and how to create entrepreneurship opportunities in the digital age. He further spoke on social media trends.
The guest elaborated on the importance of critically thinking about one’s online identity as it has the potential to impact one’s life in both positive and negative ways. He pointed out that the rise of various social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, among others, has given people many more options to choose from when deciding which service to use to manage their identities.
Mr. Kachwanya emphasised that one must learn how to manage one’s social media identity so as to fully leverage on the opportunities presented by the digital arena. “It is important to intentionally secure the name of your brand. This could be either personal or a business brand. Take time to brainstorm how you wish to present your brand and then see how to package information to serve your intended need,” Kachwanya said.
To enhance brand presence, he advised that one must constantly engage through posting, tweeting, commenting and liking. “While working on brand presence, build relationships. Remember, your consumers or even potential consumers could be interacting with your brand,” he pointed out.
He noted that building relationships helps in developing one’s social media community. However, he cautioned the audience to always ensure that they guard their social media brand.
During the first half of the discussion, it was clear that social media users have the ultimate right and responsibility to control who has access to their personal information. “There are many pieces of information about you, ranging from publicly available to very private, and it is good to know who is asking for it, why they want it, how it will be used and how to protect it,” Mr. Kachwanya explained.
At the end of the event, some key points stood out. One is that there are varying levels of trust that relate to the risk associated with any particular interaction. Therefore, it is ultimately up to us to make determinations about how much trust to put in someone or a service we encounter online.Two, it is important to work out ways to protect our social media identities and brands. Three, social media is extremely dynamic with new trends emerging continously. This means that a well-informed communication practitioner must keep abreast with happenings. Lastly, the digital space has opened up numerous job opportunities. Mr. Kachwanya described this aptly: “As a young person with vast knowledge in digital media, it is up to you to create a platform and leverage on the opportunities at hand to grow.”