by Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) Social networking is truly on the rise in South Africa, the recent “Social Media Landscape 2014” study tells us, and the top brands of South Africa are intensifying their social-media activity.

Social Media Landscape 2014 coverBenchmark for research

The study, which has become the benchmark for research on consumer and corporate use of social networks in SA, was released last week by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, although the headline findings were made public last month.

Grubstreet was given a copy of the research report  (it is not given away for free; but sold) and our main take-home insights — with an interest in what the research means for SA’s media companies — include the following.

Of the 57 large South African brands surveyed in the study, 53% are planning to invest in training in-house staff in social media (fewer are considering using specialist agencies to manage social media), while 44% of the brands have increased their social-media budget allocation in 2013, compared with 2012.

The survey also revealed that 93% of the big brands use Facebook, 79% use Twitter, 58% YouTube, 46% Linked In and 28% Pinterest.

“The primary reason brands use social media is that it is a core part of the marketing campaign (67%),” the study says. “In 2012, the primary reason was that it is an effective PR channel, as voted by 70% of respondents.”

Another stand-out finding is that of the 57 brands surveyed, 67% are planning on creating mobile apps in 2014.

Social Landscape 2014 TwitterTraditional ad spend to decline?

Does this mean that we can expect to see advertising budgets for traditional media decline due to this, I wonder? Why spend money on print ads, for instance, when you can use your own channels to deliver your message to your market?

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck told Grubstreet: “You may be correct [on ad spend being diverted from traditional media to new media] but it is also likely that many brands are increasing their budgets specifically to allow for greater social-media spend. That said, the ideal is to have an integrated strategy that includes social media as part of the mix. That means that it’s not a case of shifting budget but rather integrating budget.”

The big South African media brands and companies themselves do not feature very highly on the lists of top-performing brands on social networks. (The top 50 companies were selected based on the official brand value index published by Brand Africa for August 2013 — and this year’s posts to the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts of the respective companies were surveyed.)

In fact, only Media24 made the list for the top 50 “most valuable” brands across the social networks — at Number 22. When it came to the “Top 50 YouTubers” list, only FHM (Number 29), Uhkozi FM (Number 39) and eNews Channel (Number 46) of our established media brands put in a showing.

Social Landscape 2014 FacebookQuite telling

I think this is quite telling — and says how slow some of our traditional media companies have been in harnessing social networks to project their own brands.  Media companies, after all, should be on top of social media.

Boy, is mobile big in every way in this country, the study tells us, and social networking in inextricably linked with cellphone use.

The study found, for instance, that 87% of Facebook users and 85% of Twitter users are accessing these networks on their phones.

“At the end of June 2013, no less than 14.3-million smartphones were in use on South African mobile networks,” says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck in his introduction to the study. “That figure is expected to pass the 16-million mark during 2014. Ultimately, most of these phones will be using some form of social network or instant messaging platform, suggesting social network penetration passing the 33% mark during 2014. If all of these were adult users, it would represent 50% of the adult population.”

Wow. Mobile is surely a crucial platform for news media in SA in the near future.

Eyewitness News, that serves Primedia radio stations 702 Talk Radio, 567 Cape Talk and 94.7 Highveld Stereo, launched its free mobile app last week, for instance, and it is promoting it heavily on the radio stations

Social Landscape 2014 YouTubeFascinating

Other fascinating findings and insights in the study include:

  • There were 55 000 people on Twitter in SA at the start of 2010 compared with more than 5-million today while Facebook now has 9.4-million active users in South Africa, up from 6.8-million users a year ago.
  • The use of social bookmarking sites such as and DIGG has fallen while Linked In remains on a slow but steady growth curve, with a 20% growth from 2012. Google+ has failed to gain real traction in South Africa.
  • SA has the biggest LinkedIn user base in Africa, even though it does not have the biggest online audience or the most online penetration. SA’s 2.7-million LinkedIn membership is more than double that of the network’s second biggest African market, Nigeria (1.19-million) and Egypt (971 000).
  • The Oscar Pistorius bail-application hearing in February was a tipping point for Twitter growth in this country. The study says: “During the bail hearings, [Pistorius’s Twitter following] doubled to 289 000, and reached 310 000 by August 2013, making him the 15th most followed South African.  The global attention on the Pistorius case also propelled Eyewitness News journalist Barry Bateman into the Twitter limelight, with his following rising from around 10 000 to more than 130 000. The key moment in the growth of his following was a tweet by former soccer star turned commentator Gary Lineker, who has more than a million followers, saying that Barry Bateman was the person to follow on the trial.”
  • “As South Africans have become used to social media, it has become the go-to source to discuss topics being discussed in radio, TV and print, in real time,” says the study. “South Africa’s most popular TV shows all become top trending topics in the country for the broadcast duration.”
  • Most Twitter activity takes place between 6pm and 10pm in South Africa on an average day, while Wednesday is the top tweeting day and Saturday is the lowest in any given week.
  • Employees who are active social networkers often out-perform the brands themselves on social media.
  • “A social-media analysis of the top 25 SA brands discovered that their average response time to comments on Facebook stands at an uninspiring 645 minutes, while the Twitter response time of the same set of brands is 271 minutes,” says the study, while also noting:  “Competitions, although seemingly outdated, are still highly effective. The top retweets and Facebook posts across 25 top SA brands have a large proportion of competitions and giveaways in exchange for tweets, likes and similar engagement.”

GrubstreetSouth Africa’s leading media commentator Gill Moodie (@grubstreetSA) offers intelligence on media, old and new. Reprinted from her site Grubstreet.

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