National pride on Twitter
For a variety of reasons social media users in every corner of the globe will often add a common hashtag to certain tweets. Doing so fosters a sense of pride for one’s country. It forms a community of online users. It helps organize conversation.
We spend a lot of time on Twitter and routinely come across activity marked with some form of national pride. Most often, a commonly used hashtag will be used to denote a user of a particular group. For example, Kenyans and Ugandans on Twitter (#KOT and #UOT) have been widely employed at least since March (fueled by elections and the #SomeoneTellNigeria football drama. Twitter-savvy Ugandans have also come up with their own #SomeoneTellKenya hash-tag. Nigel Nassar and George Wabweyo of Uganda’s The New Vision sum it up well:
A collective called Kenyans on Twitter, who in the recent past have been referred to as cyber bullies due to their frequent in-your-face approach to anything, intensified attacks on Uganda using what tweeps call a hashtag.
Of course, dedicated websites can keep track of users who have provided a location in their profile. KenyansOnTwitter and Kenyatweets do just that. So does the new TeamUOT site. Analysis of geo-located Tweets by Portland Communications in 2011 didn’t find anything unsurprising and the number of Tweets associated with the top 20 African countries was much lower than in reality. There’s just no way Ghanaians only sent 2,150 Tweets from October-December 2011.
Perhaps the best way to track users within a country is by searching on local themes they may be talking about. Since this process is too time consuming, a good alternative is to browse common hashtags like the #KOT example above. The challenge is finding the most used hashtag for a given country.
The most widespread method for signalling one’s location is using a calling/country code. For example, many Guinean tweets are marked #team224 since Guinea’s dialing code is 224.
Out of curiosity, we went through the list of African country codes to see which nations tend to use this “#teamcountrycode” format. The results are clear: West Africa, Central Africa, and North Africa are likely to have adopted the “#teamcountrycode” phenomenon. Diasporans from these nations are inclined to use mentions of the country code as well. East African and Southern African countries generally utilize other forms of hashtags.
Is this a scentific method to find social media users in under-represented countries? No, but it helps expose Tweeters from smaller nations who may not have listed their country in their bio. The conversations uncovered may not be groundbreaking either, but they highlight how the most common use of the Internet isn’t for educational purposes but purely social ones. After all, as @Team254ke puts it, the goal is to glorify all things Kenya.
|Dem. Rep. of Congo||#team243|
|Central African Republic||#team236|
Also worth noting is that #kebetu is often used in Senegal and #ci225 in Cote d’Ivoire.