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Category: ENTREPRENEURSHIP, Marketing and Advertising

Corporate South Africa is becoming social media savvy
Written by Tendai Tambudze
9 October 2012

“Corporate South Africa has woken up to social media,” is the underlying message of the South African Social Media Landscape 2012 report which was released last week by World Wide Worx and Fuseware. The report takes an in-depth look at user demographics and traffic statistics for the major social networks that are being used in South Africa including Mxit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest and Foursquare.

The report includes opinion offered by a handful of the top advertising agencies in South Africa as well as information from 61 major brands, whose representatives were interviewed to understand their social media usage and strategies.

How do the big social media networks fare in South Africa?

Mxit is still leading the pack with an estimated 9.5 million users. Facebook has grown substantially to a user base of 5.3 million, with the most growth seen in the over 60’s group, who are signing up in droves on the popular social network. Twitter follows at 2.4 million users and has been increasing at a rate of 100 000 sign ups per month. The professional network, LinkedIn has also shown some growth and is currently sitting at 1.95 million users. Pinterest, despite fast growth in America, has not taken root in South Africa and only 150 000 use this service.

The report had some other interesting findings:

  • WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South Africans aged 16 and over, with a user base of 4.6 million.

  •  The number of single users on Facebook has grown faster than any other relationship group.

  • The most common “Check In” sites for Facebook in South Africa are airports and shopping malls.

  • The biggest tweeting day of the week is a Monday, followed by Friday. Saturday is the slowest Twitter day.

  • Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than double the rural users - but rural users are now at the level where urban users were 18 months ago.

Social media strategies: more than just a numbers game

The study shows that 95% of the major brands have some sort of social media strategy. About half the companies have a marketing team which handles their social media accounts while the rest leave it to their public relations division or outsource it to agencies.

These brands however, seem to be struggling to figure out how to maximise the effectiveness of their social media platforms. Only 51% of these interviewed believe that their Facebook efforts are effective. The statistics are even more dismal for Twitter – just 31% believe they are making an impact on that platform. These figures clearly highlights that there is still work to be done.

World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck says companies are focussing on numbers and ignoring sentiment. Many companies interpret and define the effectiveness of their social media platforms through the number of followers, fans, comments and mentions; often ignoring the nature of the conversations and interactions and the demographics of their followers.

“The survey shows that companies haven’t quite figured out what is more important,” says Goldstuck. “It comes down to separating volume from value, and that takes time and energy, rather than just a dashboard of numbers.”


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