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Instagram and visually rich social media exploding in SA

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The new edition of the SA Social Media Landscape report, due to be released this month, shows dramatic shifts in usage patterns, with Instagram a big winner.

The social media landscape in SA has shifted subtly but dramatically this year, especially in light of large Instagram growth.

This will be one of the key issues covered in the annual SA Social Media Landscape report, compiled by Fuseware and World Wide Worx, due to be released in the next fortnight.

Visually rich imagery dominates newsfeeds, and the new streaming content players are certainly going to see increased uptake in the next 12 months. Social media is evolving towards its pinnacle – on-demand content creation, consumption and engagement in any format, at any time and any place. There has been decreased brand content engagement across the board, indicating that newsfeeds have become too saturated and brands need to start paying up to get to the reach and engagement they desire.

Although business impact in terms of revenues is difficult to quantify, engagement and reach of branded content has substantially shifted in 2015. Twitter has become far too crowded to become consistently useful for brands, resulting in large drops in engagement on brand content. Facebook engagement has risen slightly, but this boost is also coupled with an increase in paid media spend on the platform. Instagram is the social network star of the year, with triple digit user growth in the last year as well as engagement on brand content that is an order of magnitude higher than that of the other networks. Social media has also become a large traffic source for publishers and consumer-centric brands alike, and social media optimization (SMO) has become as critical as search engine optimization (SEO).

The use of social media as a CRM tool for businesses has increased dramatically, especially with smaller businesses beginning to use Twitter and Linked In to communicate with their customers. Social media sentiment can be used to drive business strategy and product innovation, serving as a far more fundamental piece of the business puzzle than just a communications function. Social media analytics are also used to accurately gauge what makes consumers tick about a brand, with this data serving as an input instead of just an output to successful marketing campaigns.

Social media growth is still solid, but has slowed across the board with the exception of Instagram, with most networks having grown at a modest 15-25% over the last year. We’ve seen new entrants that focus on live streaming of video content, Periscope and Meerkat, but they have not seen significant uptake in the local market as yet. Content has become much richer across the board, with a large emphasis on videos and high resolution pictures being shared. This trend reflects even on Twitter, where a single picture can tell a story far more than 140 characters of text can, and brands are capitalizing on this by publishing a large amount of visual content on the network. Companies have also gotten serious about spending on media, with a significant increase in paid media spend on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube respectively – however Facebook still remains the network that delivers the highest ROI to companies, according to our corporate survey.

Instagram is the fastest growing social network in the country, with triple digit growth in the last 12 months. The growth is also leap-frogging the normal early adopter crowd and reaching mass market earlier than usual, with local television celebrities and presenters leading the charts in terms of followers. Photo filter usage on the network has dropped to record lows, and the most engaged with images tend to have no filter at all, indicating that people have grown tired of the special effects that sparked initial interest to use the platform.

Facebook has experienced solid consistent growth across all segments, with one very interesting difference. Feature phone usage is plummeting in the platform and is associated with an equivalent rise in smartphone usage. As predicted, the low cost of entry level smartphones are proliferating the market and have shifted device usage significantly in only 12 months. Although the Nokia Asha still leads the way as the top phone used to access Facebook, usage of this phone on Facebook has dropped by over 400,000 people in the last 12 months.

Twitter has increased in usage over the last year, but growth has significantly slowed. With the recent Periscope acquisition, there is an increased emphasis towards integrating the platform with real-time streaming video content. Twitter engagement on brand content has dropped significantly compared to last year. Brands are posting more content than ever before on the social network, but even paid-for campaigns are often not seen as relevant by Twitter users. For the first time ever, more than 50% of all surveyed brands post content once per day or more – but this is translating to a sea of noise that doesn’t necessarily result in business value.

Linked In usage has grown significantly in the last 12 months, with a large number of smaller businesses joining the platform in 2015. Entry level workers represent the largest increase in numbers in terms of seniority level, growing by 21% in the last year. Operations, healthcare and education personnel are joining the network the fastest across all industries.

MXit has experienced a further decline in users compared to the year before, but the platform is also restructuring its business model to focus on empowering Africans and accelerating economic and social growth in the region, by placing a stronger emphasis on social services and associated programmes. A fundamental shift away from just the typical instant messenger model employed by WeChat or Whatsapp, it will also allow businesses to help make a difference in education and healthcare through CSI initiatives in the platform.

In a surprise finding, corporate blogging has seen a strong resurgence as the importance and relevance of long form content surpasses 140 character updates. Corporate blogs are seen as more effective marketing channels than any social network, as surveyed by SA corporates.  The headline results will be presented and discussed by the top industry influencers at the Social Media Landscape Briefing, held in Johannesburg on 16 September 2015, and in Cape Town on the 17 September 2015. To book a ticket to these events, click on the links below:

Social Media Landscape Briefing, 16 Sep, Jhb

Social Media Landscape Briefing, Cpt, 17 Sep

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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