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Welcome to the social republic

The latest data on social networking in South Africa shows a massive increase in use, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The Social Media Landscape report shows that there are now 21-million Facebook users in South Africa, representing 28% of the population. This is up from 19-million users a year ago.

The study, which also drew on data collected directly from social networks and additional market research, reveals that  Instagram is the new force in social media. It grew a massive 73%, from 3.8-million to 6.6-million in the past year. This is largely thanks to the intense usage of the photo-sharing platform by media, music and fashion personalities. 

The top 25 most followed South Africans on Instagram include only one individual from outside these ranks: cricketer AB de Villiers, thanks to a massive fan base in India, takes the number one position of South Africans on Instagram, with no less than 6.4-million followers.

He is followed by Minnie Dlamini, Bonang Matheba, Boitumelo Thulo, Cassper Nyovest and Pearl Thusi, all with between 2-million and 2.4-million followers. This makes Instagram the great soap opera of South African celeb-dom, a dynamic which in itself drives the fans of these numerous personalities onto the social platform.

Its rapid growth brings Instagram into the Big Five of social networks in South Africa, behind Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. Although Twitter growth has flattened – both globally and in South Africa – it still picked up another 300 000 new followers in the past year to take it to 8.3-milion users. This means it has grown by the same amount of users every year for the past three years.

On Twitter, too, AB de Villiers has the biggest following of all South Africans, at 6.2-million, almost exactly double that of the next biggest following, for fellow cricketer Dale Steyn. They lead a range of news and sports accounts, interspersed with personalities like Minnie Dlamini, Julius Malema and Gareth Cliff.

A third element of the study, a survey among South Africa’s largest brands, also highlighted the “big five”. Facebook is almost pervasive in its use, with 96% of big brands on the platform, followed by Twitter on 87% and Instagram on 78%. LinkedIn comes next, used by 73% of major brands, followed by YouTube at 68%.

The bottom line of all these numbers is simple: South African consumers have taken to social media as never before, and big brands are following eagerly in their wake.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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