In this second of the two-part article on marketing and (social media marketing) SMM for editors, the focus will be on the social media (SM) landscape in South Africa, as at end 2020. In my previous PEGblog post, I defined social media marketing (SMM) within the wider marketing discipline, after situating marketing within organisations.

Social media in South Africa in 2020

So let’s see what was happening in terms of SM in South Africa in 2020, so that we can get a better view of which platforms may be more appropriate for our marketing efforts, if we choose to promote ourselves using SM. I will provide some narrative explanations and comparisons in terms of the highest and lowest regions or countries in the data set.

According to the data set, the percentage of the population that were internet users in Southern Africa was 62%. Northern Europe was at 96%, whereas Eastern Africa was at 24%. The global average was 59.5%. In terms of SM users, the percentage of the population in Southern Africa was 41%. Northern Europe was at 79%, whereas Central Africa was at 8%. The global average was 53.6%.

When considering these statistics, we have to bear in mind the differences in the age groups of the populations in different regions and different countries. For example: the global population median age was 31 and for South Africa it was 27.7. Japan was at the one extreme (48.6) and Nigeria was at the other extreme (18.1). So, if a large portion of the population is below 18 or below 13 years old, this will have an obvious effect on both internet and SM usage. The data shows that, globally, SM users are predominantly 18-34-year-olds (57.4%), but there are differences in terms of gender. This needs to be borne in mind when considering SMM, as it is an aspect of target market determination and segmentation during the marketing planning process.

Similarly, you can also factor in the following issues, which will also have an effect on SM usage: connectivity, per capita GDP, urban/rural populations, literacy rates, and English speakers vs other-language speakers. For example, SM users in South Africa are more likely to be urban dwellers (60%). It is also worth noting that the global data shows that the younger the SM user is, the more time they spend on SM, with a steady decline over the age groups from 16-24 to 55-64. And there are differences between the genders. There are also significant differences in the amount of time spent on SM by users in different countries and among different age groups within a country.

But we won’t dig into this in this article. Instead, we will try to get a snapshot view of the most popular SM platforms in terms of users only and by excluding the Russian, Chinese and other platforms that are not applicable. If you are interested in information not included here, you will be able to find this easily by doing some research.

Most popular social media platforms

Let’s first look at the size of some of the biggest SM platforms in the world in terms of users. Worldwide, Facebook outstrips all others by far with 2740 million users. Next is YouTube (2291 million); WhatsApp (2000 million); Messenger (1300 million); Instagram (1221 million); TikTok (689 million); Telegram (500 million); Snapchat (498 million); Pinterest (442 million); Reddit (430 million); Twitter (353 million); and Quora (300 million). Remember that the user figures are not evenly spread throughout the world in terms of all the platforms, so, for example, one platform will be much more popular in one country than another. The same will apply to age groups within a country.



More important, perhaps, is the advertising reach rate as a percentage of the population aged 13+. I have provided a few examples below, but please note that all countries are not included in all the data sets. I have taken the following from each data set to provide the overview: South Africa, the worldwide average, and the highest and the lowest values in each data set. Again, there are a number of variables that are not dealt with here, for example, differences in terms of product or industry, such as food vs fashion. Having said that, here are the most important figures:

  • Facebook: Worldwide (35.8%); South Africa (51.4%); Philippines (101.5%); Russia (7.3%).
  • Instagram: Worldwide (20%); South Africa (12.1%); Turkey (68.4%); Kenya (6.4%).
  • Messenger: Worldwide (17.3%); South Africa (12.5%); New Zealand (69.4%); Canada (1.9%).
  • Snapchat: Worldwide (8.7%); South Africa (10.7%); Saudi Arabia (71.4%); Thailand (0.6%).
  • Twitter: Worldwide (5.6%); South Africa (5.1%); Saudi Arabia (45.3%); Vietnam 1.4%).

The advertising reach rates for YouTube and LinkedIn are presented as a percentage of the population aged 18+, so a different population than what was reported for the SM platforms in the previous list.

  • YouTube: Worldwide (N/A); South Africa (51.9%); Israel (92.7%); Kenya (21.3%).
  • LinkedIn: Worldwide (13.3%); South Africa (21%); USA (65.8%); Japan (2.6%).

A final comment is that the SM landscape changes fast, and we will see changes when the new data report comes out this year, with TikTok being the new platform to watch for the younger generations.

So for those of you who are looking to start promoting your services or looking to change your tactics, SMM might be something you want to consider. However, you will need to do a lot of research and would do well to engage a SMM specialist.

Please note not all SMM platforms are included in this article and how things have changed since end 2020 are unknown, as the data for 2021 is still to be published. In this regard, please note that I used the We Are Social and Hootsuite data and have been doing so for years. There are, obviously, many other sources of data and many other reports on SMM, which you can easily find if you do some research.

Photo Credits: Social media illustration by mohamed hassan on Stockvault; pie chart on Max Pixel; social media platforms on PxHere.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Juliet Gillies

Juliet Gillies spent 20 years in the corporate and government environments as a professional writer and editor, before going freelance in 2006. She edits for government entities, authors, publishers, researchers, academics and scholars. She writes articles, textbook content, training manuals and poetry. She is also a voracious reader and lover of SMM statistics. You can also find Juliet on LinkedIn.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.