Towards the end of 2013, World Wide Worx and Fuseware released their latest statistics on the state of social media in South Africa: The most popular platforms, and how subscribers are using them to communicate.
While some of the results are not surprising, others reveal interesting and emerging trends. Be sure to take this data into account when devising your next social media marketing strategy.
5 most popular social networks in South Africa
1. Facebook – 9.4 million active users For the first time, Facebook overtook Mxit in South Africa to become the most popular social media platform. In previous years, one of the largest-growing age groups using Facebook were the over 60s, who were using the platform to communicate with friends and family.
In 2013 however, the fastest-growing group was the 23-26 year olds. This age group tends to use the network to ‘check in’ to places, post photos and interact with brands, as well communicate with friends.
87% of all active Facebook users in SA access the network from their mobile devices.
2. Mxit – 7.4 million active users Considered the largest social network in South Africa, 84% of Mxit’s users are based in the country, and the platform has dominated the social media rankings for several years.
The hugely popular app is apparently down 9.3 million users since last year, but it has also changed the way it reports its figures. Now, it considers ‘active’ users those who have used the app within the last month (previously it was the last 3 months).
According to statistics, Mxit devotees spent 95 minutes a day on the app, sending messages to each other.
3. Twitter – 5.5 million active users Twitter is the current darling of social media in South Africa. Growth has surged in the last year, indicating that users are warming up to the idea of short, instant bursts of communication, and the notion of creating content that is follow-worthy. This is quite the opposite of Facebook, where ‘friends’ are easily notched up. On Twitter, users are expected to work harder for their followers. They are also using the platform to interact with brands.
Brands, meanwhile, are using Twitter to great success, primarily to promote competitions, flash sales and limited-time offers, as well as to generate buzz around their brands, provide customer support, and engage their followers in topical conversation.
In just a year, Twitter uptake rose by 129% from 2.4 million users in 2012 to more than 5 million in 2013. Of the 54 million tweets posted each month, 85% are from mobile devices.
South African brands aren’t performing as well as their global counterparts on Twitter, taking an average of 4.5 hours to reply to a tweet, while top international brands sometimes reply within 3 minutes. However, Twitter users are undeniably following their favourite labels, with the country’s top 50 brands averaging around 12,700 followers each.
4. LinkedIn – 2.7 million active users LinkedIn proves that while slow and steady may not win the race, it still puts up a good fight. It hasn’t experienced the remarkable growth that Facebook or Twitter has, but its gradual climb shows that companies and professionals still consider it to be a useful networking tool.
The number of registered users grew by 800,000 in the last year – a considerable percentage considering its size. Finance is the most popular industry on the platform.
5. 2go – 1.1 million active users This South African-based social network is slowly creeping up the ranks, but has gained most of its traction in Nigeria, where it is a serious competitor to Facebook.
Instagram – 680 000 active users Instagram has grown tremendously in the past year, with more than half a million users signing up in 2013 alone. This growth is particularly impressive considering that the app is available on iOS and Android only, and not on South Africa’s favourite, BlackBerry.
Predictions are that Instagram is going to continue to enjoy rapid growth in 2014, as South Africans latch onto the trend of communicating in selfies, photos of food and the hashtag ‘love’.
YouTube – 1.5 million active users YouTube usage trends in SA reveal that South Africans prefer shorter, snappier videos, probably due to bandwidth constraints and the cost of data in South Africa. Local trends also reveal that brands have relatively small numbers of dedicated subscribers as opposed to casual viewers of their videos.
What’s the take out for business?
Your social media marketing strategy is going to depend largely on the age and LSM of your target market: If you’re catering to Generation X, you’ll want to focus your efforts on the ‘oldies but goodies’ like Facebook.
However, if you’re wanting to hit the millennials where it counts, aim for Mxit, Twitter and Instagram. Instagram looks set to be the break-out star of 2014, while Mxit is proving that age and experience can certainly put you ahead of the pack. And keep those YouTube videos under the 3-minute mark.