MXit shores up Table Mountain
The power of social media was undeniable when Africa's largest mobile social platform enlisted its subscribers to help put one of SA's natural heritage sites on the map, and was met with a staggering response.
Within 24 hours of sending out a link to its 44 million-strong subscriber base, MXit rallied the support of 3.6 million social networkers, who marked their ballot for Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
According to MXit CEO Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the platform had tallied about one million votes over the two-year voting period prior to the message going out to its subscribers, 80% of which are South African, just a couple of weeks before voting closed last Thursday.
To SA's delight, the local landmark was announced as one of the provisional New Seven Wonders of Nature on Friday, following an expert panel selection and the two-year voting period.
A global campaign initiated by the Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation in 2007, New7Wonders of Nature invited people around the world to vote from a list of 28 finalists. The list was whittled down from over 400 candidates, representing more than 220 countries, and a subsequent shortlist of 77 sites extracted by a panel of experts.
The second phase of the campaign ended on 7 July 2009, and millions of people from around the world voted via telephone, text messaging and social networking sites.
President and founder of New7Wonders Bernard Weber advanced the cause on the official Web site: “Let us all together participate in this global movement, creating seven symbols of heritage and nature, becoming part of global memory forever.”
The natural site contenders were chosen based on a number of criteria, including unique beauty, diversity, ecological significance, historical legacy and geo-location.
According to Knott-Craig, the total number of votes resulting from the MXit voting link prompt was 16 million, over a period of about two weeks. "At the height of the Table Mountain voting, MXit was seeing 140 000 votes a minute. That's 2 333 [votes] per second.”
Micro-blogging Web site Twitter further bore testament to the contribution MXit made to the inclusion of Table Mountain in the global drive.
Among the tweets that lent credence to MXit's role were:
“If Table Mountain becomes a New7Wonder, it can be attributed to MXit users, currently 3,4Million Votes! was 80 000 b4 campaign went on MXit.” (sic)
“@Mxit thanks for the role u played (it was enormous) in getting Table Mt selected.1 avid #MXit voters” (sic)
“Congratulation #MXit for its massive contribution to the voting support for Table Mountain 7th Wonder efforts! Well done by Africa tech!” (sic)
MXit, in turn, used its Twitter account to thank its patriotic participants: “TABLE MOUNTAIN has been selected as 1 of the NEW7Wonders! Millions of votes cast via #Mxit! THANKS FOR VOTING & rooting for your mountain.” (sic)
MXit has over 40 million registered users, about 10.5 million of which are active. According to Knott-Craig, the social platform sees on average 700 million to 800 million messages each day.
According to the New7Wonders Foundation Web site, www.new7wonders.com, the recently selected sites are the provisional new seven wonders, “based on the first count of vote results on 11/11/11.
“It is possible that there will be changes between the provisional winners and the eventual finally confirmed winners. The voting calculation is now being checked, validated and independently verified, and the confirmed winners will be announced starting early 2012 during the official inauguration ceremonies.”
Also making the seven natural wonders list are South America's Amazon, Vietnam's Halong Bay, South America's Iguazu Falls, South Korea's Jeju Island, Indonesia's Komodo National Park and the Philippines' Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.