Enshrining itself as one of Zimbabwe’s top social media brands, 263Chat, has evolved from a mere Twitter hashtag to a full media organization filling a critical media space in Zimbabwe.
263Chat is the creation of Nigel Mugamu, who started the hashtag to simply get Zimbabweans on Twitter to chat about their daily lives, chronicling what was going on in the country.
With its expansion to a Twitter page under the same name in 2012, 263Chat now has 67,000 followers from not only Zimbabwe but from many countries across the globe.
“Our numbers continue to grow, just look at Twitter and Facebook our various engagements, we are growing. Our weekly reach just using our Twitter account is an average of about 5 million a week, the hashtag is doing a reach of about 50 million a week,” said Mugamu.
Mugamu, who is currently in the United States on the International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, said the platform is moving to increase its reach and targeting the rural communities in Zimbabwe, while expanding its brand across Africa and the world.
The leadership program aims to strengthen the U.S’s engagement with countries around the world while cultivating relationships with current and emerging foreign leaders.
“Going forward we are looking to grow, essentially influence the narrative on Zimbabwe, help shift it a bit.”
263Chat now has expanded to publishing original content from various parts of the country, curating and hosting events with Zimbabweans, civic society organizations and government officials, and other media business including social media management services.
Mugamu said the point is to grow but ultimately remain the curator of dialogue both on-line and off-line in the country and abroad.
He said regardless of how 263Chat is perceived, he will continue to grow the organization.
“I’ve been called all sorts of things, and the thing at the end of the day that I must always stress, I’m Zimbabwean first I love my country, I love my continent. That’s really why its 263Chat, it’s not like MDC chat or Zanu chat, its 263Chat and that’s really where our focus is,” said Mugamu.
While on the International Visitor Leadership Program, Mugamu will be focusing on social media and engagement, visiting New Yor- based companies and some other states before heading back to Zimbabwe.