As I was catching up with my family and friends from South Africa yesterday via Instagram, I realised that the use of Social Media in South Africa is growing at an impressive path…And rightly so, if you think of the geography position of South Africa. How best to connect to the rest of the world than leveraging the social web.
A recent study shows that MXit and Facebook have the most user numbers, while Twitter has seen the most dramatic growth in social networking in the past year.
“The question of how many South Africans use each of the major social networks comes up so often, it became a priority for us to pin down the numbers,” Fuseware MD and report co-author Michal Wronski said in a statement this week.
Personalities driving Twitter growth
There were 1.1-million Twitter users in South Africa in mid-2011
“One of the drivers of growth of Twitter is the media obsession with the network,” said report co-author Arthur Goldstuck. “Most radio and TV personalities with large audiences are engaged in intensive campaigns to drive their listeners and viewers to both Twitter and Facebook.
“The former, coming off a very low base, is therefore seeing the greatest growth.”
As in the global environment, not all Twitter users are active users, with only 40% tweeting, but probably as many simply watching, following and using it as a breaking news service.
MXit remains most popular
MXit remains the most popular social network in South Africa, with approximately 10-million active users. Its demographic mix runs counter to the popular media image of MXit as a teen-dominated environment, with no less than 76% of the male user base of MXit and 73% of female users aged 18 or over.
A surprising finding emerged from analysis of Facebook data, which shows that of approximately 4.2-million Facebook users in South Africa (by August 2011), only 3.2-million had visited the site in the year-to-date.
“This is partly a factor of many users moving on once the novelty of the site had worn off, as well as a result of the fickle nature of the youth market,” said Wronski.
Business owners using LinkedIn
While LinkedIn, aimed at professional users, also reached the 1.1-million mark, it came off a far higher base – but still saw 83% growth of South African users from 2010 to 2011. Of these, 112 000 or 10% are business owners.
Consumer research analysed in the report revealed that future intention of usage of most social networks is strongly related to age – the younger the user, the greater the intention of usage.
“This is only one of many micro-trends shaping social networking,” said Goldstuck. “MXit, Facebook and BBM statistics illustrate, for example, that as social networks become more mainstream, their penetration within all age ranges deepens.
“This, in turn, will result in the continual flattening of the age curve as social networks mature.”