2015: the year SA social media embraced Black Friday

Amongst a certain sector of the social media community at least, 2015 will be remembered as the year Black Friday truly took off in South Africa.

According to data collected from the Social Studio media monitoring platform that was analysed by digital customer engagement agency, 25AM, mentions of Black Friday among South African social media users increased by more than 300% compared with 2014, with Checkers, Dionwired and Pick ’n Pay ranking as the most talked-about brands on the day.

The data reveals that there were more than 18 000 South Africa mentions of the term ‘Black Friday’ on tracked social media platforms on 26 November and 27 November, with conversation surging as consumers went online to research the deals on offer from the country’s top retailers. In 2014, South Africa only generated around 6 000 mentions of Black Friday.

Checkers, one of the first major retailers in South Africa to push the concept of Black Friday with its 2014 promotions, emerged as the big winner on social media. 25AM puts that down to the retailer’s integrated campaign, which brought together online and offline elements. As well as wide-spread distribution of Black Friday leaflets, Checkers asked customers to tweet pictures of the “chaos” at their local Checkers stores to win R500 vouchers and posted regular updates about its specials.

Read more: Whip out your credit card! How online made Black Friday a global phenomenon

DionWired, with the second most mentions on the day, owed its succes to specials for high-end products it launched throughout the day. Third-placed Pick n Pay meanwhile posted pre-roll video content on 26 November, posting on-site content on the day and leveraging its own hashtag. Other retail brands that did well included Takealot, Hi-Fi Corp, and Spree.

“This year, local consumers really invested in Black Friday, the Friday that falls in the Thanksgiving week when retailers in the US traditionally kick-start festive season shopping,” says Andre Steenekamp, CEO at 25AM. “The social media momentum suggests that some of the country’s top retailers got good returns from their marketing strategy for Black Friday.”

According to Steenekamp, the hottest trend in Black Friday marketing is brands” growing use of video to get their message across to their customers. This follows the international trend in social media marketing as well as a general trend that 25AM is seeing unfold in South Africa. The Social Studio data also highlighted that Twitter was where people preferred to talk about Black Friday and engage with brands, demonstrating its importance for seasonal social media campaigns.

Conversation around Black Friday started in the early hours of 26 November and picked up by the evening. On Black Friday, discussions about the topic exploded by 9AM when customers went online to research deals. Consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 years were the most active on the day, with a somewhat equal split in terms of gender.

Read more: 6 online shopping tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales

Around two-thirds of the Black Friday conversation in South Africa had a positive sentiment, though not all of the talk was about brands or deals. Many users simply wanted to know: “Why is it called Black Friday? What does black in “Black Friday” mean?” In addition to the social media buzz, Black Friday also received a lot of coverage in mainstream and tech media, which also helped to fuel the hype.

“It would not be too surprising if this American tradition became a fixture on the annual South Africa retail calendar in the years to come, as it also has in the UK and other parts of Europe,” says Steenekamp. “Based on our analysis, we expect the trend to keep growing next year, when more consumers will know what Black Friday is, meaning that even more people will head online in anticipation of promotions and sales from the country’s retailers.”



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