Facebook apps rule Kenya's social media scene- survey

WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube have remain the most popular social media platforms
WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube have remain the most popular social media platforms. PHOTO | COURTESY 

WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube have remain the most popular social media platforms, according to the new survey by United States International University (USIU) and the US Embassy in Nairobi.

The survey dubbed The Kenyan Social Media Landscape: Trends and Emerging Narratives 2020 shows that Facebook remains a majority's to-ho-to app despite a 6.8 percent decline in users compared to last year.

“In terms of the most used social media among Kenyans, just as it was last year, WhatsApp (89 percent), Facebook (81.7 percent) and YouTube (51.6 percent), are still the top three most used social media. The number of WhatsApp users have increased marginally in 2020," reads the report.

The social media landscape has new entrants in the top 10 most popular platforms including TikTok, Telegram and Facebook Messenger. Twitter and Snapchat users have increased by 6.3 percent and 4.4 percent respectively.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are owned by the Facebook Inc, an American social media conglomerate.


According to Dr Patrick Wamuyu, SIMELab coordinator at USIU, there is a shift in social media usage trends with more people using the platforms for entertainment.

Other notable uses include raising social, education, employment, political, religious and environment and climate change matters.

“Facebook (64 percent), WhatsApp (80 percent), Facebook Messenger (30 percent), and Telegram (9.4 percent) are mostly used for social issues, while Instagram (27 percent), Snapchat (11 percent), YouTube (56 percent), TikTok (8 percent), Vimeo (1.4 percent) and Pinterest (4.2 percent) are frequently used for entertainment. LinkedIn (14 percent) and Skype (7 percent) are mostly used for job-related issues while Twitter (35 percent) is generally used for politicss,” read the report.

And as usage of social media increases, the report noted that users are opting to use mobile browsers rather than applications as awareness on privacy and skeptism over permissions requested by apps rises. The report states that web browsers offer more privacy compared to apps that access personal data on users’ location, contact lists and messages, and require permissions to access specified content in a user’s phone to fulfill their functionalities.

“This is how mobile apps are built and monetised. Some 39.6 percent of women and 60.3 percent of men access their mobile networking sites using mobile browsers, ” states the report.

Four in every five respondents stated that they accessed social media using mobile devices, 1.4 percent increase compared to 2019.

“The number of WhatsApp users who use social networking apps on mobile phones have decreased from 97.5 percent in 2019 to 90 percent in 2020 as many users’ access WhatsApp social networking site from their offices, increasing the number of desktop (3 percent) and laptop (7 percent) users.”

Facebook has also seen more users in laptops and desktops as those accessing the site on mobile have declined.

Men are most active on messaging app Telegram while women are most active in Snapchat. Furthermore, 61 percent of men are using pseudonyms on Twitter rather than their real monikers.

“Men frequently use Telegram (66.1 percent), LinkedIn (62.1 percent), and Skype (61.6 percent). The women in Kenya are most active on Snapchat (61.9 percent), TikTok (53.6 percent) and Pinterest (50 percent).” Says the report.

Statistics from Communication Authority shows that there have been more broadband (fibre) subscriptions in the latest quarter at 22.3 million up from 22 million.

Use of internet and social media has been on an increase as more people were working from home due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The USA Marafiki, Kenya jointly with USIU-Africa provided the funding to setup the SIMElab Africa at USIU-Africa in 2018.