July 18, 2013

SA Social Media Landscape 2014 – Insights

The South African Social Media Landscape, a partnership between Fuseware and World Wide Worx that covers the trends and stats in social media in SA, is being released in September this year. I’d like to share some initial findings of the report:

Twitter, Youtube and Facebook usage is powering on. The number of Twitter users in SA has approximately doubled since last year, and Facebook usage has reached near-saturation for connected SA consumers. Instagram has rocketed in usage this year, and is very closely linked to Twitter as consumers voraciously share their photos across these two platforms.

Social bookmarking site usage has plummeted, including De.licio.us, DIGG, Friendfeed and StumbleUpon. Forum usage is also in steady decline, although South Africa’s top forum communities remain vibrant. Linked In remains on a slow but steady growth curve with a 20% growth from 2012 in SA.

Google Plus uptake has fallen flat – at approximately 500k active SA users, the platform fails to attract a tipping point of uptake in SA. Large brands are also not seeing much success in the platform; even the epitomes of SA social brand success – Vodacom, FNB and Woolworths – barely have a couple of thousand followers each on the network.

Executives are finally buying into social – Brands have invested in educating their executives and business leaders in social media, and lack of management understanding is cited as a much smaller barrier to entry than in 2012. However, the largest barrier to social media brand success remains effective time management of the respective channels.

Rising SA Youtube stars – 58% of SA brands are now utilizing Youtube as a marketing and communications medium, according to a survey of 56 SA brands. There are numerous people launching their own Youtube channels and seeing newfound online success on the medium, although celebrity usage of this medium is surprisingly lackluster.

Laser focused branded content – of 56 SA brands surveyed, 92% post at least once per week to their social profiles. 53% of social channels are managed by the marketing team, while the only 16% of brands outsource social media to third parties. 53% are considering investing in training their current people to improve social media ROI, opting to take their social media in-house instead of outsourcing to agencies.

Employee as brand ambassador – Employees active in social media are becoming brand ambassadors for their respective brands, often out-performing the brands themselves on social media. Brands need to understand how to empower these influencers to take the brand forward.

The rise of consumer journalism – News consumption of important events is tied to real-time Twitter hashtags. Trusted influencers at these events become the temporary stars from which the world siphons information. The #OscarPistorius trial was the milestone indicating how decentralized news consumption has become, and how news outlets need to leverage trusted consumers in their breaking stories.

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