The future is here, and it’s still social

Everything these days is fleeting – news, trends, technology – but one thing that has endured since inception, is social media. And indications are it will be around for a long time.

World Wide Worx and Ornico recently released the 2018 Social Media Landscape, reporting on the growth of social media in South Africa, and how it’s used by individuals and brands.

Notably, 87.5% of local Facebook users access the platform from mobile devices – up from 85% last year. This is in part the result of Facebook Lite, a version of the Facebook app some mobile operators provide without data charges.

Twitter may have seen a small decline in the US market, but it has increased elsewhere. Locally, it remains the social platform of choice for accessing influencers, news and thought leaders. It is also interesting that Twitter use is generally at its highest during business hours. The notion that “Twitter is dead” is clearly unfounded.

In 2016 the top 100 South African YouTubers had an average number of 37 000 subscribers. In 2017, this has increased to 250 000. Local YouTubers are getting it right, and people are flocking to the video-sharing platform to get information.

Both Instagram and LinkedIn showed steady growth, but Instagram’s was dramatically slower than in previous years.

Despite being perceived as a dull and boring professional network, LinkedIn remains one of the most important social networks in South Africa. Outside the entertainment world, active users on this platform are the most influential people in social media in the country. The numbers indicate that small business participants are using the platform as actively as big corporates.

Instagram is still seen as the most powerful social network in terms of user numbers, but it is slowing down significantly – partly because of data requirements of users. The peak time for people being active on Instagram is between 17:00 and 19:00.

Being data-intensive, the Snapchat community is mostly restricted to teenagers in affluent households, and the platform hasn’t taken off locally.

In terms of brands and marketers utilising social media to reach existing and potential customers, 97% use Facebook, 90% are active on Twitter, and LinkedIn and Instagram both stand at 72%. YouTube has shown a slight increase to 68%.

And when it comes to advertising, Facebook leads the way with 86% of brands finding value for their money, followed by Twitter (45%), Instagram (40%), and LinkedIn (35%).

It is clear that brands need to play in the social space if they intend to remain relevant to a market that has a need for instant gratification but wants to avoid information overload. Digital advertising when done strategically can be cost-effective and agile – particularly in comparison with traditional options. The internet offers a vast audience unrestricted by geography, and there are so many opportunities for brands to break through and reach their market.

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