Social Media Analysis: Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag & #OurFlag Campaigns

Hashtag analysis of the social media movement in Zimbabwe comparing #ThisFlag & #OurFlag Campaigns

On 20 April 2016, Evans Mwarire, a Zimbabwean Pastor posted a spoken-word video on Facebook titled This Flag in which he describes his disillusionment with the Zimbabwean government using the meanings behind the colours of the Flag to question if the flag still held its meaning to Zimbabweans.

The video: This Flag – The Lament of Zimbabwe, which subsequently went viral on several social media platforms, with many sharing it within and outside of Zimbabwe led to the birth of the #ThisFlag campaign in Harare, Zimbabwe.

#ThisFlag Campaign

The campaign features Pastor Mwarire recording himself on a mobile device and posting on Facebook, encouraging fellow Zimbabweans to carry their flags with them wherever they go for a period of 25 days as a sign of their discontent at the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe.

The campaign run primarily via social media is associated with the hashtags #ThisFlag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The campaign has gained a lot of attention from Zimbabweans both within and outside Zimbabwe thereby attracting attention from the ruling government officials like Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Counter Campaign Hashtag: #OurFlag

A counter campaign started by Prof. Jonathan Moyo – Zimbabwean Minister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Science & Technology Development using the hashtags #OurFlag started two days after #ThisFlag was launched.

According to Professor Moyo, his #OurFlag campaign is in line with the up-coming pro-government ZANU-PF Million-Man March slated  for May 25 by the ZANU-PF Youth League.

The major criticism to the #ThisFlag campaign, has been that it does not reflect the thoughts of ordinary Zimbabweans and that the majority of those twitting and sharing the campaign information via social media are based outside of Zimbabwe.

Hashtag Analysis: #ThisFlag Vs. #OurFlag

In analyzing the above hashtags, we aim to measure the impact, reach and impression created via Social Media. Most importantly, we aim to compare and contrast #ThisFlag’s reach to the counter campaign, #OurFlag.

We believe this information is vital to the understanding of the power of social media in African countries and Zimbabwe in particular for the mobilization of movements.

Hashtag Analysis: #ThisFlag

#ThisFlag Impressions

From the above analysis, #ThisFlag received 4, 673 tweets from about 1, 642 unique accounts/users.

The campaign created a 4 million unique reach – the total number of estimated organic Twitter users that reacted to the hashtag, with 15 million impressions created being the overall exposure the hashtag received online till date: May 22, 2016.

Demography and Location of Users

Overall, the majority of those who actively participated and shared the #ThisFlag hashtag were male (84%). The hashtag was mostly shared from:

  • Zimbabwe (57%),
  • South Africa (18%),
  • United States (8%),
  • United Kingdom (6%),
  • Canada (1%) and
  • the rest of the world (10%).

#ThisFlag Locations

 

#ThisFlag Gender Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influential Tweeps & Top Sources of Tweets

As we’ve come to accept the importance of Twitter as the medium for every African on Social Media to be heard, express their opinions, and weigh-in on any discourse, it is very important to highlight influential tweeps weighing on this hashtag.

This category looks at Influential Persons sharing via the #ThisFlag campaign and the various sources (devices) used. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were in favour of #ThisFlag but one can ascertain that by checking their tweets. Top 5 Influential Tweeps are: @PastorEvanLive, @MailAndGuardian, @TrevorNcube, @Ali_Naka and @Madube_

Android devices (41.5%) dominated the sources of tweets for #ThisFlag campaign. iPhone users made up 25.1%, followed by 19% for those contributed via Web/Desktops, 4.6% via Mobile Web and 3.7% from iPad sources.

1,043 (22.3%) original tweets about #ThisFlag were shared from the beginning of this campaign which received 10.3% replies and 67.4% Retweets.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 2.26.07 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 2.32.44 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hashtag Analysis: #OurFlag

Professor Jonathan Moyo – Zimbabwean Minister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Science & Technology Development has condemned the #ThisFlag campaign upon hearing about it on Twitter and started the #OurFlag two days after on April 22, 2016.

According to Professor Moyo, the anti-government movement which Pastor Evan Mawarire is leading is being sponsored by Western countries and the United States to destabilize Zimbabwe.

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 3.23.23 PM

From the above analysis, #OurFlag received 725 tweets from about 542 unique accounts/users from April 22.

The campaign created about 1.4 million unique reach – the total number of estimated organic Twitter users that reacted to the hashtag, with 2.5 million impressions created being the overall exposure the hashtag received online till date: May 22, 2016.

Demography and Location of Users

Overall, the majority of those who actively participated and shared the #OurFlag hashtag were male (66%). The hashtag was mostly shared from:

  • Zimbabwe (45%),
  • United States (30%),
  • South Africa (6%),
  • United Kingdom (5%),
  • Canada (2%) and
  • the rest of the world (12%)

#OurFlag Stats

#OurFlag Demography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influential Tweeps & Top Sources of Tweets

This category looks at Influential Persons that tweeted via the #OurFlag campaign and their various sources (devices) used. This doesn’t necessarily mean they were in favour of #OurFlag but one can ascertain that by checking their tweets. Top 5 Influential Tweeps are: @ProfJNMoyo, @Wamagaisa, @Zimtweets, @JoeBlackZW, and @SirNige.

Android devices (42.6%) dominated the sources of tweets for #OurFlag campaign. iPhone users made up 23.7%, followed by 17.5% for those contributed via Web/Desktops, 5.5% via Mobile Web, 5.4% from iPad users and 21.% from Windows phones.

130 (17.9%) original tweets about #OurFlag were shared from the beginning of this campaign which received 10.6% replies and 71.4% Retweets.

#OurFlag Top Sources

#OurFlag Top Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

Pastor Evan Mawarire called for every Zimbabwean to rally around the flag of Zimbabwe by taking it to work, posting a photo of the flag on Social Media platforms for 25 days. He further added:

“The 25th is not when we stop but when we start, where we start to push them to accountability. The last 25 days have been us waking up, us knowing that we all have these frustrations. Going forward I’d love to see us more organised, to put a strategy in place as citizens to continue to expose their failings… A lot of people have got to a place where, like me, they didn’t know what to do, but they really just want Zimbabwe to work.”

Meanwhile, a UK based social media expert and Journalism Lecturer Dr. Hayes Mabweazara, says Zimbabwe politicians can ignore Pastor Evan Mawarire and his #ThisFlag campaign at their own peril, but Social Media is becoming a ground for discussions without any fear among Zimbabweans.

Acknowledgment:

I would like to acknowledge and thank my beautiful wife; Dr. Nonsikelelo Mathe-Degadjor for her valuable contributions, research and comments that greatly improved this analysis.

Opinion, Feedback and Comments:

  • What do you think about these on-going social media campaigns in Zimbabwe? Do you think, #ThisFlag can translate from just a mobile/internet based activism to a larger on the ground movement demanding social change in Zimbabwe?
  • What do you think about the counter-campaign #OurFlag is a genuine representation of the youths who support it?

Image Credit: DailyNews.co.zw

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