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Social media in South Africa: 8 important numbers you need to know

Yes, we’ve seen the the teaser tweets, but now we also have some updated figures on social media adoption in South Africa, courtesy of market research by World Wide Worx and Fuseware. While the official document is yet to be released, some of the findings of the latest version of the two research houses’ annual South African Social Media Landscape report have been revealed at a briefing in Johannesburg.

So, which social network sites are South Africans logging in to, and how are they using them? We’ve rounded up some of the statistics.

Facebook: 9.4-million active users

Overtaking Mxit and holding the top spot for the first time, Facebook is on a roll. Last year’s report suggested that the social network site was becoming less of a kids game and more of a tool used by older generations to connect with friends and family, with the number of over 60s on the social network site growing by 40% year on year. Now it seems it’s back to the youth, as the fastest growing age group on Facebook is 23-26 years old. On-the-go access is also a major factor, with 87% of South Africa’s estimated 9.4-million active users accessing the platform from mobile devices. Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport is the most checked-in place in the country, with 454 000 check-ins over the past year.

Mxit: 7.4-million active users

The Stellenbosch-based mobile darling is still one of the biggest platforms with 7.4-million monthly active users, 84% of those based in South Africa. That’s down from last year’s 9.3-million, but Mxit has changed how it reports its figures — in 2012, it reported users who were active over a three-month period (90 days), while this year it’s limiting that to one month. Still, Mxit users are still seriously devoted to the app, spending an average of just over an hour and a half on Mxit every day and sending an average of 400-million messages.

Twitter: 5.5-million users

The new research suggests that Twitter adoption in the country is increasing dramatically — Twitter use rose 129% in a year, as registered users more than doubled from 2.4-million in 2012 to 5.5-million in 2013. All of those users are sending 54-million tweets a month, and the vast majority (85%) are sent from mobile devices.

So, how are the brands doing on the platform? The country’s top 50 brands have an average of 12 785 followers and receive an average of 1856 mentions a month. According to World Wide Worx and Fuseware’s figures, they also take an average of 4.5 hours to reply to a tweet — which is a few hours behind some of the top international brands, some of whom reply in three minutes or less on average.

LinkedIn: 2.7-million registered users

The professional social network isn’t seeing the rapid growth Facebook and Twitter are experiencing, but it is slowly and steadily gaining traction. It now has 2.7-million registered users in the country, an increase of 800 000 in the past year. The top industry is finance, with 34% of users aged between 25 and 34.

2go: 1.1-million users

The other South African based mobile social network hoping for a shot at glory is 2go, which has found some serious success in other African countries like Nigeria (where it is giving Facebook some serious competition and even has its logo on a brand of bread). In South Africa, it’s a little less popular, with just over a million monthly active users.


Instagram: 680 000 active users

From less than 100 000 users in 2012, Instagram has been making its mark in the country, adding more than half a million users in a year. Fuseware MD Mike Wronski suggests this figure is only going to grow moving into 2014, as Android adoption in the country is set to take off. Currently, Instagram is limited by the fact that BlackBerry holds a dominant share of the South African smartphone market, and the app is only available on iOS and Android.


Google+: 466 828 active users

With 466 828 active users, Google’s social play is seeing less than stellar growth in the country with only a marginal increase over last year’s numbers. Sorry, Googlers.

YouTube: 1.5-million account views each for the top 200 YouTubers

YouTube use in the country suggests that South Africans prefer short, snappy videos (a tendency which may be driven by generally high data costs), with Wronski suggesting producers aim to keep their videos under the three-minute mark. The top brands in the country had total view counts of over 250 000, but relatively low subscriber counts, suggesting their videos are watched by more casual viewers than dedicated followers.



Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More

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