There are numerous misunderstandings and false impressions about the use of social media in South Africa. For example, it is common for individuals to assume that the opinions expressed on social media platforms accurately represent and reflect the views of the entire country. However, is this truly the case? Similarly, some may argue that marketing a business on Twitter is more effective than on Facebook. But is this claim based on evidence or simply an assumption?
These are just a few critical questions that must be examined in depth. As a result, we will be taking a critical look at social media usage in South Africa today.
It is important to note that most of the statistics used in this analysis are derived from a report produced by Data Reports. Obtaining comprehensive and up-to-date data on South Africa can be challenging. Even survey results from South Africa often have significant margins of error. Nonetheless, the overall picture painted by these figures accurately represents the situation.
How many South Africans use social media?
In January 2023, it was reported that 59.3 per cent of all internet users in South Africa, regardless of their age, used at least one social media platform. This means that more than half of South Africa’s internet user base was active on social media.
In March 2022, it was reported that there were 29.5 million Facebook users in South Africa. This number represents almost half of the population of the country, indicating that Facebook is a widely used social media platform in South Africa. Additionally, it was found that the largest audience base for Facebook in South Africa was users aged 25 to 34, who accounted for 29.4 per cent of the total user base.
In May 2022, it was reported that the number of LinkedIn users in South Africa had reached almost 10.2 million. This indicates that a significant number of people in the country were using the professional networking platform to connect with others and advance their careers.
In March 2022, it was reported that the number of Instagram users in South Africa had increased to 6.81 million, up from 5.66 million in March 2021. This represents a significant growth in the app’s user base in the country. Additionally, it was found that the majority of Instagram users in South Africa were female, with women accounting for 51.8 per cent of the app’s audience in the country.
In early 2023, Twitter’s advertising resources reported that the platform had 3.65 million users in South Africa. This number represents 6.1 per cent of the country’s population, indicating that Twitter’s ad reach in South Africa was significant. This means that advertisers could potentially reach a large audience by using Twitter to promote their products or services in South Africa.
It was reported that approximately 95.4 per cent of internet users in South Africa used WhatsApp on a monthly basis. This indicates that WhatsApp is a widely used messaging platform in the country. In comparison, Argentina saw 95.2 per cent of its internet users engaging with the platform, indicating that WhatsApp is also popular in that country.
Tik Tok Usage
In 2021, a survey was conducted in South Africa to determine the distribution of TikTok users by province. The survey results showed that most TikTok users in South Africa came from Gauteng, with around 34 per cent of the total user base in the country. North West had the second-largest share of TikTok users in South Africa.
The Top 5 Most Popular Social Media Platforms in South Africa
In the third quarter of 2021, it was reported that WhatsApp was the most popular social media platform in South Africa, with 95 per cent of internet users using the messaging app. Facebook and Instagram were also popular, with penetration rates of around 87 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively. Additionally, it was found that the potential audience that could be reached with advertisements on Facebook amounted to 24.2 million people in South Africa.
The Number of Internet and Social Media Users Continues to Grow
Since 2018, the number of internet users in South Africa has been steadily increasing. In 2022, it was reported that 48.4 million South Africans accessed the internet, compared to 36 million four years earlier. As a result of this growth in internet usage, the number of active social media users in South Africa also increased significantly. By January 2022, the number of individuals actively using social media platforms had reached 28 million, nearly three times higher than in 2014.
Mobile phones dominate internet access
In 2022, it was reported that 47.8 million South Africans used mobile devices to access the internet. Mobile phones were the primary devices used for this purpose in the country. In the third quarter of 2021, 96 per cent of internet users in South Africa used mobile phones to connect to the internet, while 86.2 per cent used a laptop or desktop computer. Additionally, it was found that mobile phones generated close to 79 per cent of web traffic in South Africa as of late 2022.