It takes large organisations weeks, or even months, to grasp the power of social media. In the case of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), it took 100 years. Of course, Twitter wasn’t around when Africa’s oldest liberation movement started, but during the ANC’s Centenary Celebrations the party showed that even it can mean business online.
By now, it’s no secret that opposition leader Helen Zille is the most engaging South African politician online after recently breaking through the 100 000 followers benchmark. During last year’s municipal elections, the party she heads, the Democratic Alliance, made use of social media to gain more ground than it ever did before. Twitter Town Hall meetings proved to be incredibly successful as Zille and other members of the country’s official opposition party answered questions from users in real-time. When the ANC tried to do this it was far less successful, and although President Jacob Zuma joined the Twitterverse prior to the elections, he and the rest of the ruling party were still trailing behind.
That was until the centenary celebrations when the company Soul Providers took it upon itself to show what Twitter muscle the ANC really does have. It goes to show that any well-established brand can make waves online — it just takes some willing and able individuals to get the interaction going with everyone out there.
@MyANC_ retweeted everyone that made use of various tags about what was being broadcast on both the eNews Channel and the SABC from Bloemfontein. It uploaded pics from iPhones and answered people’s questions pertaining to why everyone was suddenly speaking ANC on Twitter. It even managed to make #ANC100years a global trend when it was used in around 0.08% of all tweets on Sunday afternoon. Although there was criticism across Twitter about the event, the fact remains that a handful of people got the @MyANC_ account into a space where it can now be respected online as it has already trumped the DA’s @DA_News feed (and of course all other opposition parties).
Soul Providers did a huge amount of work in a relatively short space of time. Word has it the company was only asked two days before the start of the event to get to Bloemfontein over the weekend, pull out their iPhones and MacBooks, and tweet the ANC’s biggest birthday bash yet. It was left with little time to get content approval, but by Monday morning 1:30am (that’s when the “chief Firestarter” Sarah-Jane Boden put out her flame), Soul Providers was able to sit back and see what great work Boden, Thina Zulu and Nicole Debbo did during the event.
It also goes to show that in the run-up to the 2014 general elections the ANC can definitely have a far bigger digital foothold than ever before, potentially translating into even more votes.