20% of South Africans are using Facebook, but how often do they use it?

| 9 June 2014


There is no denying the explosive growth that Facebook is enjoying in developing markets like South Africa. With individuals sharing their life experiences, businesses and brands have had to dovetail this growth to compliment their brands and make them accessible to the millions using Facebook across the various demographics.

But how do South African Facebook users interact on the social network? What is the extent of usage and what brands resonate with the South African population?

Ipsos South Africa recently conducted some research commissioned by Facebook to try and make sense of the kind interaction, and how it can help businesses and brands make their campaigns and presence on Facebook more targeted and engaging.

The research entitled “From Bed Time to Prime Time”, found that South African Facebook users are very engaged with the social network from when they wake up until they go to sleep.

  • 40% check Facebook before getting out of bed
  • 36% check Facebook just before going to sleep

The “second screen activity” notion featured very high throughout the research, with 80% of South African Facebook users using it as a second screen while watching television for example.

In terms of popularity, Facebook is six times more popular than YouTube, and twelve times more popular than Twitter, although usage is increasing rapidly among these and other social networking platforms.

Among regular users the research found that 92% of South Africans used Facebook during TV prime time hours, between 17:00 and 21:00.

According to Diego Oliva, Facebook’s Director for the CEEMEA region: “Facebook has become a service that South Africans access throughout their day, wherever they are; from bed time to prime time. That is largely thanks to the growth of mobile, which means people can stay constantly connected with everyone and everything that matters to them.

“In many ways, South Africa and other African countries are further ahead than Europe and the US when it comes to this shift to mobile. They have effectively skipped the era of desktop computing,” said Mr Oliva.

“Browsing Facebook via mobile with the television on in the background is something new, but it has already proved valuable for marketers. The synergies between the two media mean that cross-platform advertising campaigns are turning out to be much more effective than the sum of their parts.”

Facebook has a global population of 1,28 billion users; 1,01 billion of those are monthly active users, and 802 million are daily active users.

In South Africa there are 11 million Facebook users, with 10 million of those being active monthly users, and 6,7 million are daily active users.

But Facebook does have challenges ahead. The recent IS Strategy Labs research show a decline in Facebook users aged 13 – 17 and 18 – 24, while other demographics showed robust growth.

Issues around privacy are key, and recently Facebook changed and simplified many of their settings. The timeline has also been the focus of attention, as many users complain about missing important events because their timelines are simply too busy.

But Facebook is not showing signs of slowing down. With their share price sitting at around $63 and a market cap of $160 billion, they remain the big gorilla in the room.


The Ipsos South Africa research was commissioned by Facebook and carried out between November and December 2013.


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