Facebook losing SA appeal - survey

2011-10-26 14:25

Johannesburg - While social media networks MXit and Facebook lead the way in user numbers in SA, new data finds that of the approximately 4.2 million Facebook users in SA by August, only 3.2 million had visited the site in the year to date.

This is according to new data out on Wednesday released by social media monitoring and online reputation management group Fuseware and technology research organisation World Wide Worx, entitled South African Social Media Landscape 2011.

However, report co-author and MD of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, said that in the three months since August, Facebook users in SA had grown by an additional 300 000, or about 100 000 per month.

The research found that Twitter had seen the most dramatic growth in social networking in the past year, while BlackBerry Messenger, a service provided by Research In Motion for BlackBerry users, was the fastest growing network in the second half of 2011.


"The question of how many South Africans use each of the major social networks comes up so often, it became a priority for us to pin down the numbers," said Michal Wronski, MD of Fuseware and co-author of the report.

"The data was collected through a combination of Fuseware's analysis of social network databases, information provided directly by social networks, and World Wide Worx's consumer market research."

An analysis of Fuseware's extensive database of Twitter usage, in conjunction with World Wide Worx's consumer market research, showed there to be 1.1 million Twitter users in SA in mid-2011. This represented a 20-fold increase in a little more than a year.

"One of the drivers of growth of Twitter is the media obsession with the network," Goldstuck said.

"Most radio and TV personalities with large audiences are engaged in intensive campaigns to drive their listeners and viewers to both Twitter and Facebook. The former, coming off a very low base, is therefore seeing the greatest growth."

As in the global environment, not all Twitter users were active users, with only 40% tweeting, but probably as many simply watching, following and using it as a breaking news service.

MXit remained the most popular social network in SA, with approximately 10-million active users. Its demographic mix ran counter to the popular media image of MXit as a teen-dominated environment. No less than 76% of the male user base of MXit and 73% of female users were aged 18 or over.


"This is partly a factor of many users moving on once the novelty of the site had worn off, as well as a result of the fickle nature of the youth market," said Wronski.

"Once BBM picked up significant traction in private schools, for example, many teenagers who had previously flocked to Facebook, opted for BBM's greater immediacy."

While LinkedIn, aimed at professional users, also reached the 1.1-million mark, it came off a far higher base - but still saw 83% growth of South African users from 2010 to 2011. Of these, 112 000 or 10% were business owners.

Consumer research analysed in the report revealed that future intention of usage of most social networks was strongly related to age. The younger the user, the greater the intention of usage, it found.

"This is only one of many micro-trends shaping social networking," said Goldstuck.

"MXit, Facebook and BBM statistics illustrate, for example, that as social networks become more mainstream, their penetration within all age ranges deepens. This, in turn, will result in the continual flattening of the age curve as social networks mature."

  • Andrew - 2011-10-26 14:53

    Facebook is ideal if you want every Tom, Siphos or Harry to be your friend, and compete with others to have the highest number of "friends" However a presence on Facebook is helpful as long as you make it completely open and just list your email address on it. Then former real friends can get in contact, but you never have to go back to it. Google+ is for those who want to be serious about their social networking as you can put out general information to specific groups of people. I have "circles" for Family, Friends, Acq'ntances, Army, Afrikaans, Souties, to mention a few, and when I put out anything I choose which group or groups to send it to, depending on what I think might be of interest. This is better than blanket coverage of everything I might write.

      elaine.swart - 2011-10-27 09:24

      Facebook does exactly the same since recent changes. Info shared can be limited to groups. To me Facebook is all I need. BBM - soon to be bankrupt, Twitter - never got the hang of hashtags, Google+ no time to learn another whole thing, and not integrated with Igoogle yet.

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-10-26 15:21

    "said that in the three months since August" Only two months since August! LOL

  • Sattva - 2011-10-27 12:42

    Facebooks sucks !

  • Rohin - 2011-11-04 22:49

    in the fast moving technological rat race we find ourselves in, there's always going to be the next best thing, and at the end of the day, it will come down to who has the greatest staying power. I've definitely noticed a slow down in activity on facebook, and I truly believe the only reason people are so obsessed with BBM is because it's affordable. Social media is the exact opposite of what it proclaims to be, instead of bringing you closer you're suddenly being stalked by people you'd hoped were out of your life 10 years ago, and people suddenly forget how to actually have a conversation, and life turns into a series of facebook status updates. I look forward to the end of it all, i propose a mass FB account suicide day. who'll join me.

      rob.west.92123 - 2012-08-16 12:20

      You`re quite correct Robyn. I find FaceBook users are, for the large part, pretentious, attention seeking and insecure.

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