South Africa’s top magazines according to Facebook

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Last week, I was interested to read a post by MediaSlut that listed the top South African magazine brands in terms of Twitter followers. I decided to do a corresponding survey of SA magazine brands on Facebook.

I used the Audit Bureau of Circulation(ABC) list of South African consumer magazines and searched for more than 100 of the titles on Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook’s search is not great and there are many unofficial pages and groups. I also looked on magazine websites for links to their fan pages.

Where publications have international versions, the numbers given are for the South African titles’ Fan Pages. I’ve indicated where groups or people are being used rather than pages. Fan numbers are as of 16 and 17 February 2011.


No.MagazineNo.of Fans
1Huisgenoot136831
2Baba & Kleuter 43570
3SA Sports Illustrated29011
4Getaway24344
5YOU21226
6Shape 18998
7Leef18900
8Speed and Sound17041
9KickOff15349
10Cosmopolitan
15296

Five points of interest:

  1. Dominance of female conversation
  2. Six of the top 10 SA magazines on Facebook could be considered women’s titles. It’s becoming generally recognised that social media is dominated by women (see this TED talk on ‘Social Media and the End of Gender‘). This seems to confirm the female bias of social media for South African magazine brands.

  3. Social media audiences overtake print
  4. Already many print publications are seeing their combined digital audiences outgrow their print readership. Baba & Kleuter shows how this can happen on a single social media platform. The magazine’s ABC print circulation is just more than 17 700 but they have 43 570 Facebook fans. Sports Illustrated is another title whose 29 000+ Facebook fans outnumber their ABC of 24 788.

  5. And social media audiences lag behind print
  6. Some relatively large print titles have surprisingly small presences on Facebook. For example, People, which has a print circulation of 87 578, has only 857 fans. Oprah Magazine, with an ABC of more than 52 000, is exactly the sort of title you’d expect to have a fantastic presence on Facebook, as its content is practically tailor-made for social media, yet they have only 338 fans.

  7. A fairly fragmented approach
  8. Of the top 10 South African magazine brands on Twitter according to MediaSlut, only four are also among the top 10 on Facebook. This suggests a fragmented approach to social media by some magazine brands, targeting one major platform, rather than drawing value from both. Entrepreneur magazine is a case in point. I’m currently the only fan of its Facebook page, while @Entrepreneur_SA has 1 422 followers on Twitter.

  9. A little bit lily white?
  10. Perhaps I’m imagining things, but only two magazines targeted at black audiences made it onto the list. DRUM is doing reasonably well on Facebook, with more than 9 000 fans, so potential for black magazine audiences on social media is demonstrable. However, I couldn’t find Facebook pages for Bona, Move! or True Love, which have huge ABCs of 94 961, 138 970 and 82 535 respectively.

This was purely a quantitative study, so I won’t make any comments about the quality of engagement evident on these Facebook pages. But I think the numbers speak for themselves to some extent. See full list of Magazines on Facebook here.

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  • Paul

    You have missed some magazines. . . see the link for Intimacy Magazine – 18 000 fans http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/INTIEM-INTIMACY-Magazine/87429369829

  • Ronel

    Yes, Intiem & Intimacy Magazine’s Facebook group is standing at 18 000 and is picking up speed. Most of the active users are Afrikaans-speaking women, but we have seen an increase in the number of men the past few months.

  • http://twitter.com/matthewarnold Matthew Arnold

    You missed Destiny with over 43,000 fans > http://www.facebook.com/#!/destinyconnect

  • Sebastian

    Interesting article. While the research was pretty comprehensive, it missed out a number of titles that are doing very well on Facebook.

    Brands Like Destiny Connect sit just below the top of the list of Facebook brands in South Africa, with more than 40,000 fans, while a number of brands have brand extensions with pages that push their total reach on Facebook much higher than your figures show.

    FHM, for example, may have slipped making it onto the top 10 list, but their pages include a number of brand extensions that push their reach on Facebook to more than 20,000 South Africans.

    The 5th point (A little bit lily white?) raises an interesting question, but is not entirely accurate. Destiny Connect, Kickoff, Drum and Destiny Man are all some of the fastest growing social media properties amongst local magazine brands, none of which are particularly “white”. Brands like Move! and True Love might not have Facebook pages, but have a large social audience which they interact with across platforms other than Facebook (like dating platform Awema).

    The social media landscape changes quickly – monthly growth rates are often the only way to judge the expansion of a brand’s social presence; rather than purely relying on numbers, you have to watch the trajectory of the growth to understand where they’re heading.

    Interactions, too, are key to understanding how these pages are doing – with the communities of each title interacting and spreading the news in different, diverse ways.

    I understand that it can be hard to draw more than quantitative assertions, but as far as social media is concerned it is important to gauge engagement rather than pure follower numbers – interactions and conversation above click-throughs and impressions. In this regard the numbers look very different – and put magazines head and shoulders above almost every other industry with a presence on Facebook – as their audiences make their favourite magazine’s social presence a large and integral part of their online experiences – with incredible levels of interaction and audience engagement.

  • http://www.oprahmag.co.za O, The Oprah Magazine

    O, The Oprah Magazine’s Facebook page only launched very recently http://www.facebook.com/OTheOprahMagazineSA

  • Arrie Rossouw

    Don’t confuse circulation (ABC numbers) with readership. Some of those magazine titles you refer to will have as much as 15 readers of 1 copy sold.

  • http://twitter.com/joebloggsza Joe Bloggs

    What absolute rubbish, especially point 2: “Social media audiences overtake print”.

    Just because a magazine has x number of fans does not mean that this is more important than the number of print issues. Being a “fan” often involves little more than clicking on one little “Like” or “Connect” button on a page or article. It ignores that magazines are read fro their content. That there are usually multiple readers for each magazine bought (which is why AMPS statistics are usually used as well).

    This is truly a poor, poor piece of journalism.

  • Alison Westwood

    Thanks for your comments and tweets! I’ve asked memeburn to update and revise the post to include Destiny and Intimacy. If there are any others I’ve missed, I do apologise and please let me know.

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