South Africa’s new social media scores show steady growth rate

The high number of South Africa’s older generation using social networking sites have significantly propelled the rise in the use of the social media platform in the country, a report released Tuesday by technology researcher World Wide Worx shows.

The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 report indicates the fastest-growing age group among Facebook users are those aged 60 and beyond.

The report showed that from August 2011 to August 2012, the number of over-60s on Facebook grew 44 percent, compared to less than the 30 percent growth among the 30 to 60 age group.

Users aged between 19 and 30 years grew 20 percent. Teenage users grew by less than 10 percent.

World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck explained that the new findings are a reflection of how Facebook is becoming the mainstream social platform in South Africa.

“The younger segments are still far from saturation, but we’re not seeing the same heady pace of growth among the youth as before,” he said.

According to the report, 8-million South Africans accessed Facebook, including through the mobile phones, by the end of August 6.

An estimated 2.4 million accessed Twitter while 9.3 million were on Mxit.

However, Facebook figure for South Africa, at the end of August, was at 5.33 million. This is because Facebook does not measure mobile usage.

The 1.47 million difference, World Wide Worx says, indicates the growth impact mobile phones have on social networking platforms.

In August this year, The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012 report released by World Wide Worx suggested smartphone penetration in the country lay at 20 percent with Nokia and Blackberry phones the most popular accounting for nearly 87 percent of the mobile devices. Both brands, although they thrive in the South African market, face worldwide decline in market share. The report showed Blackberry holding the majority with about 46 percent and Nokia 41 percent.

The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 report further shows Facebook and Twitter have grown at the same rate, both having an estimated 100,000 users a month, in the last one year.

Other highlights showed Twitter and Facebook have crossed the urban/rural divide with the section of the urban adults using Facebook a little less than double the rural users. Twitter’s penetration in the urban areas is a little more than double that of the rural penetration.

“Clearly, Facebook is filling a relationship gap in the lives of many South Africans,” says Goldstuck. “But social networks are also so much more – we see them playing the roles of communication, information and entertainment networks.”

The report also showed LinkedIn to have grown substantially to reach more than 1.9-million South Africans while Pinterest with only 150, 000 users in South Africa.

The integrity of data, and its interpretation, is vital for business decision-makers and marketers who are investing in social media, commented Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski.

“Different methodologies allow us to gain deeper insights, as well as in providing cross-validation for our data,” Wronski said.

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