The impact of social media on Kenya’s presidential election outcome: a study of 2013 presidential elections in Starehe Constituency, Nairobi
Little is known in terms of the effect of the increased use of social media tools on the election outcome. This study therefore sought to find out the effect of these social media tools on the Presidential election results. The main objective of the study was to establish the impact of social media on presidential elections. The specific objectives of the study were to; establish the extent to which the electorate relies on social media in making their election decisions; find out the benefits of social media as a tool of political campaign; find out the impact of social media on presidential elections and finally to establish how social media can be used effectively in future to yield positive results. The location of this study was Starehe Constituency in Nairobi County, which was chosen because it has higher internet and social media accessibility. The target population was all the 138,630 registered voters in the constituency. The researcher used mixed method approach (both quantitative and qualitative methods) to collect data. A total of 190 questionnaires were distributed to respondents; 150 electorate of Starehe Constituency, 20 politicians and 20 communication experts) and 164 questionnaires were returned representing 86.3% response rate. The researcher also interviewed 10 key informants (five political scientists and five IEBC officials) to collect qualitative data. Quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17 while the qualitative data was analysed by obtaining detailed information, then trying to establish patterns, trends and relationships from the information gathered. Finally, the data was presented using tables, bar graphs, pie charts and narratives. According to the findings of the study, to some extent the electorate relied on social media in making their election decisions. The study further established that for the electorate the main reason or benefit for being on the social media was to get information while for the politician it’s the presence of a ready audience to share information with. The analysis of data also indicated that social media will continue being a reliable tool of communication in future elections. It’s therefore recommended that politicians and political parties embrace the social media as a tool of political campaign to reap its benefits.