Sharing the news: the role of social media in news diffusion and audience building in media houses in Kenya

Isaac Swila, Aga Khan University


The purpose of the study is to assess how media houses in Kenya are using social media to diffuse their news content and build loyal audiences in a competitive media environment. It uses two media houses, the Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services as case studies. The study aimed at attaining four specific objectives: to examine how social media platforms, facilitate diffusion of news content in media houses in Kenya; to examine whether sharing of news on social media lead to growth of digital audiences; to examine the strategies legacy media stations in Kenya, use to disseminate news content and grow audiences on social media and to explore the challenges associated with relying on social media for news diffusion and audience building. The study used a mixed research design, relying on both qualitative and quantitative data from both secondary and primary sources. Interview and survey were the basic methods of data collection with interview guide and structured questionnaire as the main instruments of collecting data from purposively sampled respondents drawn from staff working in the digital departments of the two media houses. The study was anchored on the Media News Theory and Audience Theory. The two theories complemented each other and were useful in bringing on board the comparative advantage of each. The study found out that the two media houses have embraced social media platforms to facilitate diffusion of news. Based on the data analysis, the study established that the primary use of social media is anchored on the broader process of information sourcing and getting feedback from the audience. The data analysis led to the key finding that social media plays a key role in news diffusion and audience building.