I was a bit thrown off when betting companies decided to fly prominent social media personalities -influencers- to the Qatar World Cup. My reasoning was that they should have taken people who are more directly involved in football instead- coaches, managers, players, or officials. But I figured they must have their reasons, so I withheld my comment and sat to wait.
So far, I admit I was largely wrong. The shipping of social media personalities was more beneficial to football than a trip by any other group of stakeholders would have been. I know it sounds ironic, but let me explain.
Pondering, the main business at the world cup is watching the ongoing matches. Besides the experience, there’s little value a coach can add to their trade by attending the showpiece. Many coaches have very small audiences on social media while a good number choose to avoid the platforms altogether.
Benefits of Social Media Presence
Now, the whole point of having influencers on board is to popularize the game. Although they majored in creating entertaining skits, these internet sensations exposed the game through millions of views to people across the country and probably beyond our borders.
I have a feeling that attention to the game and match attendance locally has improved since the World Cup. First, teams appear to be taking social media more seriously now. They are engaging influencers and digitally aware social media managers to hype their games and keep their fans involved. Exciting short clips from magic moments in games will definitely bring more fans to the stadia. Players are also involved. I have seen a really nice clip by Ulinzi players dubbed ‘Tulia Just Maintain’ (#TJM).
Once these posts get full traction, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) by fans will work to the teams’ advantage. I am seeing it right from the grassroots. I am impressed by the number of posts I saw during the recently concluded Kip Keino Classic and the Mashemeji derby. Long may it continue!
Apologies, Social Media Influencers
So, influencers, I roundly apologize for calling you a nuisance. I was wrong to think that you didn’t deserve the trip to Russia.
Do I still think you are a nuisance?
Unfortunately, yes. Journalists themselves are taught to be a nuisance; to be unsettling. To ask uncomfortable questions. I’m sure President Ruto thinks Ayub Abdikadir is a nuisance after THAT interview. But it is he who handpicked Hussein Mohammed, who used to be a thorn in his flesh during interviews at Citizen TV.
Content creation revolves around sensationalism. Blowing things out of proportion; the fun lies in the caricature effect. Sometimes shifting the attention from where we want it to be. Whether I like or hate sensationalism is neither here nor there. Coaching and managing football has no place for sensationalism. It is being in the hot seat at all times.
It’s your job; I understand. Even though I think you are a nuisance, you are a welcome nuisance.
Karibu #TujengeGame #JazaStadi
PS: I’d really love to hear what Kenyan-based Qatari Kiarie Mbugua has to say on this topic.