Social media is exploding in South Africa but big business has been slow in embracing the incredible growth in engagement.
This is the message that came out in South African Media Landscape 2014 report that was announced last week by the Arthur Goldstuck, MD of technology market researchers World Wide Worx and Mike Wronski, MD of social network analytics company Fuseware.
As more South Africans connect to the internet there is more conversation and engagement taking place on social media.
The surge in numbers has primarily been driven by mobile, with most South Africans accessing social media platforms via mobile devices. The research showed that 87% of users access Facebook via a mobile device and 85% on Twitter.
Facebook has now grown to 9.4 million users, becoming become the biggest social network in South Africa. This is a massive jump when you consider that a year ago Facebook had 6.8 million users in South Africa.
Facebook also toppled Mxit from the number one position, as Mxit saw their number slide to 7.4 million. The drop, according to Mxit, was due to a change in their calculation methodology from a 90-day window to a 30-day window, which resulted in the reduced numbers.
Instant messaging services like WhatsApp and BBM continued to grow, with strong growth coming from WeChat. WhatsApp remains the most popular with the most downloads in the Apple, Android and Windows app stores. It will be interesting to see how this number changes next year as Blackberry’s BBM becomes available for Android and iOS users from this weekend.
The biggest percentage growth among the social networks came from Twitter, which saw 129% growth from 2.4 million users in 2012, to 5.5 million in 2013.
Instagram, the photo sharing social network, saw impressive growth from under 100 000 users last year to 680 000 in 2013.
But what do these numbers mean to big businesses in South Africa? Are businesses embracing this rapid growth?
The report has shown that 93% of South African corporations use Facebook, 79% use Twitter, 58% YouTube, 46% LinkedIn and 28% Pinterest. Interestingly less than 1 in 10 use Mxit, Foursquare or Instagram.
Your company might be on Facebook and Twitter but how is your social media strategy used to achieve results and engage with your customers? Are you using the right channels and is enough training taking place within your organisation to have an effective social media strategy?
“The big trend in corporate use of social media is that internal marketing teams are taking charge, rather than outsourced agencies,” says Wronski. “Just over half of major brands (54%) rely on their own marketing team, a further 9% on public relations teams, and only 16% on third parties.”
Social media has become incredibly specialised and assigning a team within an organisation is sometimes not enough and can become detrimental to a business. The message is to take social media seriously and having a web site is not good enough. Your customers are talking about your brand on one of the social networks and you need to engage.
The perception is that social media is a platform used by consumers to whinge. That is not the case. The engagement should be seen positively as a way of growing your business and listening to what your customers are saying about your brand.
Take Nashua as an example. The leading distributor of digital office automation equipment and document output solutions in Southern Africa for the last 25 years. Nashua is typically a B2B company and joined Facebook in 2012 with 30 fans and 19 people talking about the brand. A year later and Nashua Limited’s growth on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NashuaLTD has grown to 15 254 likes and 503 people talking about the brand. That is a higher engagement rate than many of South Africa’s top brands!
Most businesses surveyed in the South African Media Landscape 2014 report acknowledged the importance of social media as a business tool but only 19% said they were getting as much value from social media as they could – indicating that most were still learning how to embrace the tool. This is evident in the average response time addressing customer issues on Twitter for example. The survey revealed that it took on average more than four hours for brands to respond to customers. Four hours on social media is huge. The engagement that a complaint can do to a brand in such a short space is enormous.
Social media in South Africa is growing at a blistering pace and the survey shows that many companies are not geared to keep up with this growth.