Meet the City of Joburg's social media ninja

Tumelo Komape handles about 200 tweets a day. (Madelene Cronje, MG)

Tumelo Komape handles about 200 tweets a day. (Madelene Cronje, MG)

Could this be one of the most difficult jobs in Johannesburg? To look at Tumelo Komape (although on Twitter, he is generally known as TK), you wouldn’t think so. He smiles a large smile that splits his face and laughs often, while his phone buzzes constantly during our hour-long conversation. He keeps touching it as though he’s about to look at it – an involuntary reflex – before remembering that he’s in an interview.

He is the interface between (usually irate) City of Johannesburg residents and the city, and at this moment requests, queries, insults and some compliments are firing at him through cyberspace.

When TK took over managing the city’s twitter account (@cityofjoburgZA) in 2012, there were fewer than 4 000 followers.
Today, that number sits at almost 110 000, with about 9 000 new followers each month.

Every day he and his two-member team get about 200 to 230 tweets and he says that they have a 99% response rate over 24 hours, including public holidays and Sundays. His goal is to get those targets to 100% response in 15 minutes.

TK, who has been with the city since December 2012 when he came on board as a webmaster on a six month contract, says that in 2013, “10% of the time, we were responding to customers. About 80% of the time, we were pushing messages – which is the behaviour of many government departments. In 2014, 82% was conversation and engagement, with 18% being one-directional messages”.

Starting at 6am and often finishing after 11pm, TK is online responding to tweets.

Sometimes there are straight forward questions, and business responses:

There is often sage advice:

It can also be putting them in touch with someone else in the machinery of the city:

Or (surprisingly often) helping with geography:

Occasionally, it involves mea culpa:

There is also a lot of hate:

Not to mention repetition (this was tweeted 26 times in an hour):

And sometimes, he gets some love:

Sarah Wild

Sarah Wild

Sarah Wild is a multiaward-winning science journalist. She studied physics, electronics and English literature at Rhodes University in an effort to make herself unemployable. It didn't work and she now writes about particle physics, cosmology and everything in between.In 2012, she published her first full-length non-fiction book Searching African Skies: The Square Kilometre Array and South Africa's Quest to Hear the Songs of the Stars, and in 2013 she was named the best science journalist in Africa by Siemens in their 2013 Pan-African Profiles Awards. Read more from Sarah Wild

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