In Summary
  • Communicating through messages on social media might seem like a time-wasting activity, but one Nairobi resident has learnt how to make money out of it.
  • Mr Seth Kariuki, 36, sells land, cars, branding services among other items by sending direct messages to Facebook and Twitter users.
  • For the last three years, Mr Kariuki has been a regular fixture in inboxes of some users as he looks for buyers.

Nothing is permanent except change, so goes the saying. And change has been the constant in the careers arena over the years, with some jobs emerging every day while others fade into extinction.

As the latest technological innovations spread in Kenya, careers pegged on the Internet are gaining prominence while those like being a switchboard operator, typist and video store clerks head for the back seat.

Tasks that previously seemed like a pastime are now turning into full-time careers, with some organisations creating spaces for positions like social media marketers, online customer care agents and YouTubers among others.

Dr Mike Iravo, a human resource lecturer at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, advises Kenyan employers to develop strategies to adapt to the change while minding the welfare of employees whose roles become redundant.

“You can’t just start (phasing them out) all of a sudden. Let us go slowly as we phase them out. As we retire them, we then insist on people who should have these technology skills,” he told Lifestyle.

Dr Iravo said that the new posts in the workplace are inevitable, especially with the onset of social media.

“The way the world is going, we need to embrace the social media, although this can be preserved within time so that everybody comes on board,” he said.

TIMELY DELIVERY

On the advantages of social media to businesses, Dr Iravo said: “I see a lot of strategies being created for organisations through the employees. I see a lot of information being delivered on time. I see the exchange of skills between employees and others being enhanced.”

According to Mr Justin Anyona, an agency relationship manager at Google Kenya, the expanding digital space is guaranteed to create more jobs with time.

One of the spaces is YouTube, a platform for sharing videos.

“It’s phenomenal. Look at youngsters of 13 to 18; the sort of content they watch. YouTube has really taken off. And there are all these sorts of YouTube stars, people who only log on to YouTube and they become huge. Some are even bigger than TV stars,” said Mr Anyona.

“It’s quite big and it’s just about doing interesting content, getting subscribers, getting people to view your videos, and then now you work with Google and YouTube to monetise the content.”

Another platform for making money, he said, is by helping websites rank higher on search results from search engines.

“Some agencies … make for you websites and then they also offer an extra service of making sure that it’s properly optimised for search engines,” he said.

Lifestyle looks into some of the jobs that have emerged in Kenya due to technological advancement, as told through youths who took a leap of faith and are now making money out of it.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETER

Communicating through messages on social media might seem like a time-wasting activity, but one Nairobi resident has learnt how to make money out of it.

Mr Seth Kariuki, 36, sells land, cars, branding services among other items by sending direct messages to Facebook and Twitter users.

For the last three years, Mr Kariuki has been a regular fixture in inboxes of some users as he looks for buyers. He markets products belonging to other proprietors and gets a commission per sale.

When he spoke to Lifestyle, he was looking for land for an energy company that wanted prime plots countrywide. He was also chasing a branding deal with a coffee shop.

“You have to look for clients online through their Facebook pages, and their links. I also network a lot with people,” says the former banker. “I inbox, I ask for the numbers of a person I can talk to.”

He runs at least four Facebook accounts through which he reaches potential buyers. To achieve that, he has adopted software that sends daily messages to Facebook users. 

While social media marketing takes many perspectives, Mr Kariuki says his model works for him because it is cost-effective.

“It is easy. You can work from anywhere: from office, from the house, provided you have Internet,” says the father of one.

He says he makes enough to sustain his family, noting that if one works hard, one will not regret.

“What you need to do is know the people you work with and to know what you’re selling,” he says.

Going through one of his Facebook accounts, one realises that some of the posts are jokes that don’t relate to business in any way.

“You have to be alive. You don’t have to be serious every time. There is need for humour,” he says.

2. VLOGGER

Video blogging, or vlogging in short, is what Mr Wilson Muirania, popularly known as Jaymo Ule Msee, identifies as his launch pad to success.

You might have seen him on KCB Bank advertisements for their new app or on the Jaymo Ule Msee show on TV.

Before the fame, Mr Muirania was a bank relationship officer after graduating with a degree in Political Science and Economics from the University of Nairobi in 2008. But that didn’t excite him.

“When I told my parents and friends that I had quit, they were puzzled and thought it was the wrong move, but I knew what I wanted,” he says.

In theory, anyone with a camera, an Internet connection and something to say can create a video blog. But for him, vlogging is a career.

His YouTube page has over two million views and his Facebook page had 172,244 followers by Friday.

It is through these platforms that he broadcasts short videos that tell stories about every day life in a hilarious way.

“Social media provides a space for everyone to experiment or do things that we feared doing before,” he says.

“For me, using social media to market my talent was, and is, my strategy.”

Other famous vloggers include Uganda’s Anne Kansiime who also ended up having a show on TV after her satirical videos impressed media houses.

Although vlogging is making its baby steps in Kenya, in Western countries it has become a full-time career for some.

According to Forbes, Swedish comedian Felix Kjellberg alias PewDiePie, who made a name from uploading YouTube videos of himself playing video games, earned $7.4 million (Sh740 million) last year from product endorsements.

3. DIGITAL STRATEGIST

If you thought the people who set trends on Twitter and have tens of thousands of followers are idlers, better think again because some youths have flown to riches through that medium.

One of those is Mr Rama Oluoch, known as Ramzzy on Twitter, currently working as a creative digital strategist at a Nairobi-based marketing firm — his third employer since 2011.

With more than 48,600 “followers” on Twitter, Mr Oluoch has been involved in online campaigns for a number of products including beer brands, telecommunication companies and insurance firms.

“When someone is launching a product or when there is somebody who already has a product and they’re looking for a professional, that’s when I get to talk to people,” he says.

Mr Oluoch considers himself a creative person, an attribute he says has helped him prosper, in addition to his training as a graphic designer.

“It’s a rewarding job. I say if you chase happiness, money will come. I chase happiness,” he says.

The setback is that many people don’t still understand what he does.

“You look unemployed most of the time,” he says, laughing. “You just stay online and you look like a ‘hustler’. Many don’t understand because it is a very young industry.”

To succeed in the field, he says, one needs to be interesting and needs to have a considerable following on social media.

“When you can grow yourself as a person online, it’s much easier for you to grow a brand because you understand how to communicate with people,” he says.

4. SEO CONSULTANT

Do you know why one website appears before another whenever you key in some words on a search engine?

A lot of things go into determining which site gets listed first, and you can earn a pretty penny advising website owners on how to make their portals rank higher than their competitors.

The method of increasing a website’s reputation on search engines is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and it has provided employment opportunities in the last few years.

Mr Ken Kariuki, who runs SEO Consulting Kenya, says he can never return to formal employment since he quit his job at a Nairobi-based technology company seven years ago.

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