The gratifications sought from social media by Kenyan users and leverages for local ICTs development
This research study was undertaken to investigate the gratifications sought from social media by Kenyan users and how this could be leveraged for local ICTs development. Particular focus was on the adoption and use of the Facebook Platform – the most popular social platform both locally and globally. The study sought to address the problem of lack of literature related to social media usage patterns and the corresponding stratification of these users in the local context which can be helpful in informing the design of future ICTs and in local ICT policy making. The overall purpose of the study was to identify and rank Facebook’s sought gratifications, the factors influencing the adoption- and use-diffusion processes and how this could be leveraged for the development ICTs and web-based solutions locally. To achieve this goal, there were four objectives that guided the research process. These were: to find out, proceeding from tested audience gratification typologies, the gratifications sought by different Facebook users in the country; to examine the prevailing structure of local Facebook users with respect to their application-adoption rates and usage patterns against the factors influencing such adoption and usage patterns; and to establish the aspects of social media use characteristics that can be leveraged in the development of ICT solutions locally. The research design adopted both descriptive and diagnostic survey approaches. The target population comprised of over twenty nine million Kenyan Internet users and random sampling was employed to identify the 384 respondents sampled. The questionnaire was administered online with invitations made through emails and Facebook invitations and advertisements. A hard copy format of the questionnaire was first administered among randomly selected residents of Kiambu town in order to ascertain for validity of the instrument. The data collected online was found to be reliable through a split test that gave 0.85 Cronbach alpha value for reliability. The independent variables for the prevailing adoption and usage patterns were tested for their influence on the usage of social media using various statistical tests including binary, multinomial and ordinal regression tests. It was found that 76.1% of those interviewed had an active Facebook account while slightly more than half of the non-adopters were actually quitters or had at least opened an FB account before. It emerged that most Facebook users accessed the platform so as to read and comment on their newsfeed as well as interact with like-minded friends and contacts. The gratification topologies concerned with ‘reinforcement of personal values and identity’, ‘social connection’ and ‘information seeking and sharing’ emerged the three highest ranked in that order going by the uses and perceptions of the Facebook platform. The ‘economic factors’ topology ranked lowest out of the ten distinct gratification topologies identified. Theoretical adoption and innovation usage constructs played a key role in determining who adopted the social media and how intensively the adopters used the platforms. Compatibility, media influence, observability, trialability and social communication factors influenced adoption statuses while competition, innovativeness, social communication and relative advantage influenced the rate and variety of use of the Facebook application among the adopters. The leading gratification factors and the prevailing usage patterns which were found to be influenced by theoretical constructs could be leveraged, as discussed, in the design of local ICTs. This can take the form of predetermined audience reach for web-based solutions as well as influencing engagement patterns with applications’ adopters. Such prior considerations by developers could help in the design of solutions that responds to the existing problems and needs of target audiences in a more informed way thus reducing costs and improving success rates of the projects. Further studies could improve on the available literature by targeting specific populations such as schools or unique geo-spatial settings.