5 South African social media numbers you need to know right now

South Africa’s social media explosion shows no sign of slowing down, with Facebook now used by a quarter of all South Africans, while Instagram has seen the fastest growth of any social network in South Africa over the past year.

That’s according to the latest South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study, released today by World Wide Worx and Fuseware.

The study is based on access to consumer data from seven major social networks and a corporate survey conducted among more than a hundred of South Africa’s leading brands.

Here are the numbers you need to know:


That’s how many South Africans are now on Facebook, as near to a quarter of the population as makes no difference. Given that just about half of South Africa’s population is thought to have internet access, it’s safe to say that at least half of all South Africa’s internet users are on the big blue social network. That’s pretty impressive, given that just two years ago, there were just over 9-million South Africans on Facebook.

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“There is a misperception that Facebook numbers are dwindling. Numbers show the opposite,” says Gil Sperling, co-founder and chief technical officer of Popimedia, Facebook Marketing Partner in Africa. “Solid growth of daily active users was recorded even in Facebook’s most mature and saturated markets. Social media applications are maintaining their relevance across all demographics and regions.”


Of those 13-million users, 10-million, or 77%, use it on mobile devices. Smartphones are used by 7.9-million South Africans to access Facebook, while 1.6-million are use basic feature phones to do so. Tablets are being used to access Facebook by 1.4-million people — many of whom are also using their phones.

As Sperling points out that’s partially because Facebook as a whole has seen dramatic evolution.

“It’s grown from the ‘single blue app’ on mobile phones to a strong family of applications through its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the launch of Messenger and Groups. As a collective, revenue in excess of US$12-billion is indicative of a healthy ecosystem and a thriving user base, which keeps returning.”

2.68-million Instagram users

According to World Wide Worx and Fuseware, Instagram has shown the most impressive growth out of all social networks in South Africa. It’s grown 133% from 1.1-million in 2014 to its current mark.

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“The big trend last year was the impact of all visual networks,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. “Now we are seeing not only the impact of Instagram refining its offering, but also of users finding fascinating new ways of making it work for them.”

517 000 followers

Minnie Dlamini lays claim to South Africa’s most followed Instagram account with 517 000 followers. That’s hardly surprising claimed by media personalities, who post photos that give fans a glimpse into both their private and public lives. Bonang Matheba is close behind Dlamini with 512 000. Among those who are not focused on posting images of themselves, professional photographers lead Instagram. Gareth Pon is the leading South African photographer on Instagram, with 246 000 followers, ahead of Craig Howes, who has built up a 195 000 following (although not without controversy).

24 percent of brands

It seems a fair proportion of South African brands have yet to wake up to Instagram’s potential. According to the survey Instagram has the highest planned use by major brands for social networks not currently in use, with 24% saying they plan to do so on the coming year. At present, 42% of major brands are using it, with Mr Price and Mercedes Benz having been the most successful with individual images.

“As brands become more comfortable with specific social networks, they become far more effective at using them as marketing and positioning platforms,” says Mike Wronski, managing director of media analytics organisation Fuseware. “Instagram is already the big winner among users. Brands want to tap into that enthusiasm.”



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