#SONA2016 looks set to smash 2015’s massive social media traction

It’s difficult to imagine how the this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) could provide any more drama than the 2015 edition, with its signal jammers, white shirt brigades, and walkouts. But if the social media chatter in the lead-up to president Jacob Zuma’s speech is anything to go by, the South African public is expecting fireworks.

According to data collected by social media insights and analytics company YouKnow, conversation around SONA 2016 could be at least 24% up on last year’s record-breaking figures.

Read more: #SONA2015 reached 30 tweets per second in SA’s first true social TV event

Despite the economy and president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead dominating mainstream media conversation, social media seems more concerned with education. According to YouKnow, 67% of the pre-SONA social media conversation is interested in the President’s comments on education​, 11% on safety and nine percent on the economy.

SONA education

That prioritisation of education appears to be at least partly down to a resurgance of momentum for the #FeesMustFall movement, which saw students protest on university campuses, in front of parliament, and on the lawns of the Union Buildings.

It’s worth noting however, that the above measurement only deals with topics likely to be covered in the address, based on what was spoken about last year.

Read more: #FeesMustFall, emojis, #RWC2015: Twitter SA’s 2015 year in review

Outside of those formal expectations, the social media community is most interested in Zuma’s response to the question of why former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene was fired​. In parliament, their hopes will be reflected by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), with the latter poised to look for answers in ways that are bound to grab headlines.

Overall sentiment going into SONA2016 remains negative, as was the case pre-SONA2015 (varying by a few percentage points).

SONA Sentiment

A number of peripheral conversations (such as #FeesMustFall, #ZumaMustFall etc) which, while not directly linked, are also likely to significantly impact the SONA conversation on the day. But as we learned in 2015, anything could happen.

One thing that is certain is that plenty of South Africans will be watching and sharing their opinions on social media.



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