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Mxit may not be the mobile social networking powerhouse it once was, but its users are still fiercely loyal. That’s according to analysis of the SA Social Media Landscape 2014 research study, released by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.
When the two companies released the results of their research in September, they showed that Facebook, with 9.4-million active users, had overtaken Mxit to become the country’s most popular social network.
In presenting the results, World Wide Worx and Fuseware said that Mxit’s 7.4-million active users (84% of whom are from South Africa) was down from the 9.3-million active users it reported in 2012. As we noted at the time however, Mxit had changed the way it reported its figures in the interim.
The two research houses appear to have taken note of this with their final analysis, noting that in July 2012, a 30-day active measure gave Mxit 6.2-million subscribers. A year later, in July 2013, the active subscriber base had grown marginally to 6.3-million. In August, this number had grown to 6.5-million.
Indeed the full report describes the decision by newly appointed Mxit CEO Francois Swart to clean up how Mxit reported its numbers as a turning point for the network.
World Wide Worx and Fuseware say the low levels of growth experienced by Mxit, despite a high churn rate among pre-paid cellphone users which comprise most of Mxit’s base, the network is winning back enough users and attracting enough new customers every month to make up for that churn.
It also suggests, they add, that a high proportion of those who change their pre-paid phone numbers return to register on Mxit again. None of this, of course, guarantees Mxit’s survival.
According to World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck, it also provides us with a degree of insight into why outgoing FNB CEO Michael Jordaan was so willing to take on the role of chairman of Mxit’s board. “Rather than coming in to rescue a dwindling brand, he has arrived to build on a relatively solid foundation,” Goldstuck says.
It is also however worthwhile remembering that Jordaan’s role is a non-executive one and that he has close links to financial kingpin Paul Harris, a major Mxit investor.
“Mxit is holding its own, but at a time when Facebook has grown by more than half and Twitter has more than doubled,” says Mike Wronski, MD of social network analytics company Fuseware. “That is enough of a challenge, but then you also have local instant messaging service 2Go overtaking Mxit in active users across Africa, and WhatsApp in turn overtaking everyone, including Facebook.”
2Go presents an especially big challenge to Mxit in the race for the African continent, where it has 10.5-million users as opposed to Mxit’s 7.4-million. The former is especially beloved in Nigeria, where people even bake bread using its branding.