For many, social media is just about killing time or socializing with people from all over the world. Elementarily it’s the actual case that social media is for socializing with people from diverse backgrounds. However, it would be misguided to think that that’s all there is to social media. Social media has evolved into many other things that we would have never envisaged at its onset. Right now social media is an indispensable conduit in business marketing – it’s a huge part of the digital marketing realm. Today, however, I shall be focusing on how social media has actually changed the lives of people. I’m discussing a few examples to illustrate how social media has changed the lives of some individuals.

The Chicken Inn Couple

Last year on Boxing Day Makhosana Mguni proposed to Belinda Nyoni at Chicken Inn situated at the ZITF centre in Bulawayo. Makhosana had arranged for the proposal to be photographed by a certain photographer. The pictures, later on, emerged on social media and comments rained down on them. The initial comments were people mocking the guy for proposing at an ordinary spot. In an interesting turn of events the couple started getting amazing support afterwards. The couple was flown into Harare to be interviewed on the TLFDrive show. We then learnt from the interview that Makhosana had chosen to propose at that Chicken Inn outlet because that’s where they had first met before they started dating. They are now Chicken Inn paid ambassadors and Chicken Inn also pledged to provide meals for their bride price and wedding ceremonies. They are also getting a fully paid for honeymoon i.e. air tickets, accommodation & spending money. They were also taken for a fitting session by the clothing line Jan Jam plus many other pledges were made by various brands. They have so far done their bride price ceremony and Chicken Inn did come through and provided branded décor and wear plus the meals as earlier on promised.

Lorraine ‘Ndinyengeiwo’ Guyo

Do you remember the lady who posted a video of herself pleading for any guy to ask her out sometime towards Valentine’s Day? That’s the lady I’m talking about. Her video at first was blasted by all sorts of negative comments. She even got suspended from her workplace, Meikles Hotel in Harare. She, later on, was hosted on the 6th episode of The Lumumba Files Drive show. That’s where she clarified why she had posted the video and other details. A nude video had also emerged where it was being alleged it was her in the video – of which it wasn’t. Her suspension at work was then lifted off and fortunes began to flow her way. She started getting brand ambassadorship deals with for instance Mambo’s Chicken; Jan Jam, Avion and Steward Bank also took her onboard. Right now she is into social media influencing through comedy skits and several brands now leverage on her popularity to advertise their brands. Things have turned out so well for her that she even quit her previous job.

Ranganai Zhakata

This is a young man from Kambarami who wrote his A’Levels last year and scored 15 points after sitting for Geography, Pure Mathematics and Crop Science. He scored 7 As and 1 C at O’Level. He then applied for Actuarial Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe and got a place. The hurdle now was that he couldn’t afford the tuition fees. He had resorted to being a newspaper vendor at Murewa bus terminus. Someone (in fact quite a number of people) then posted about his situation all over social media. Prominent local entrepreneur, Kuda Musasiwa then saw a tweet by someone who tweeted posted about the young man’s heart-breaking story. Moved by compassion he then rallied interested people to join him in raising funds for Ranganai. In just a matter of some hours ZWL$700000, USD200, pledges for food, laptop, data and printing needs for one year had been mobilized. A company called Maid & Aide pledged to pay part of his tuition every semester till he finishes his degree. Mukure Tours who have an office at Murehwa Centre pledged to offer him free transportation to and fro Harare at opening and closing of every semester. In fact, so many pledges were made that Ranganai will never muse over his varsity needs from start to finish. A group was even created for all the donors to ensure everyone does well on their pledge. This is one remarkable story of how the power of social media was leveraged to make a difference in the life of a promising young man. Earlier today the 13th of June Kuda Musasiwa tweeted about Walter Chowa who scored 13 As at O’Level and 20 points last year in Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics and Statistics. He’s a vendor from Mutare who actually got a place for medicine and surgery at UZ but can’t afford the tuition and other needs. People are currently in the process of making pledges to assist Walter.

These are some local stories of how social media is so much more than we think it is. The lives of these 4 individuals were turned around in remarkable ways they could have never imagined. What I particularly find striking is the fact that circumstances were somehow just orchestrated in a way that opened amazing doors for these people. Looking back all these people would have never thought things would turn out the way they did. The stories of lives that have been revolutionized by or through social media are countless. If we take time to study and analyse these stories we can get a better appreciation of how powerful social media can be.