Social Media in South Africa

Do you know how to Floss? I’m talking about the arm-swinging-hip-swaying dance that was a sensation amongst the youth. It wasn’t unusual at the time to see many-a-youngster jerkily moving to the dance. If that’s what TikTok can do, wouldn’t you want to engage on this platform?

According to the 2021 Social Media Landscape report by South Africa’s very own World Wide Worx (in conjunction with Ornico), the Covid pandemic has had a profound impact on the social media behavior of South Africans.

An astounding 38.2 million people are online in SA. The explosion in the use of social media platforms is also being driven by a similar surge in the use of mobile apps.

Google research shows that 55% of users rely on videos for purchasing decisions, making video marketing a great way for business to reach consumers.

Google asserts that there are 3 ways in which online videos influence shoppers:

  1. Video as a shopping list. Consumers refer to online videos to be reminded of what they need, even while shopping in-store.
  2. Videos give people confidence. They feel informed and are able to approach a situation with more insight and knowledge.
  3. Video product reviews influence purchase decisions.

The most popular social media platforms
Still the giant of the social media and social networking sphere, Facebook remains most popular at 27 million local users, 18 million of these are exclusively mobile.

However, despite Facebook having the largest base, messaging platform WhatsApp and video platform YouTube are the most used with around 93% of users using these platforms every month. YouTube has also provided an alternative to paid TV services like Netflix and Showmax.

Snapchat saw significant growth across all age profiles. The user base of this multimedia messaging app grew by as much as 25% among some demographics. It now has 7 million users in SA.

Instagram photo and video sharing network saw active users climb from 4.3 to 7.1 million, with an estimated base of 10 million people. Its popularity further surged with the recent launch of Reels that spurred activity.

TikTok video sharing social media network is the fastest growing platform in SA amongst brands and consumers, jumping from 5 to 9 million users over the last year. While its growth has been driven by a younger demographic, many people in the age bracket of 25-44 joined during lockdown. TikTok is seen as the new kid on the block in South Africa which marketers and communicators are scrambling to understand.

“The popularity of social media environments for brands has in the past been shown to be directly related to the level of usage of those platforms by marketers. Hence,TikTok is almost non-existent among big brands, as the marketers behind those brands are not active on TikTok.” Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx

Twitter’s growth in SA, compared to other platforms, has been relatively stagnant, up only 4% from last year to 9.3 million users. The research data shows that just over half of Twitter users are highly active on these platforms.

Professional social network LinkedIn, saw its numbers increase from 7.5 to 8.4 million users.

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