World Wide Worx in partnership with Ornico has published the 2021 Social Media Landscape report for South Africa, showing which online platforms and trends dominate in the country.
The 2021 study, conducted after a full year of Covid-19 lockdowns, provides an in-depth picture of the shifts in online behaviour brought about by the pandemic.
According to World Wide Worx chief executive officer, Arthur Goldstuck, there are approximately 38.2 million people online in South Africa, with an explosion in the use of social media platforms being driven by a similar surge in the use of mobile apps.
This is evident in South Africa’s tally of over 100 million mobile connections – an overpenetration of 169% of the population of just under 60 million people.
The most popular social media platforms
Facebook upholds its position as the most popular social media platform in the country, with an estimated 27 million local users – 18 million of these users are exclusively mobile.
However, despite having the largest base, messaging platform WhatsApp and video platform YouTube are the most used, World Wide Worx noted.
Around 93% of internet users make use of these platforms each month – though Facebook is also widely used, at 87%.
According to World Wide Worx, the Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on South Africans’ social media behaviour, which worked to benefit some platforms more than others.
For example, SnapChat saw significant growth across all age profiles, with the platform’s user base growing as much as 25% among some demographics. It now has seven million users in South Africa.
Instagram saw its active users climb from 4.3 million to 7.1 million, giving it an estimated install base of 10 million people. Its popularity surged along with the launch of Reels – a TikTok clone – that spurred activity.
TikTok, meanwhile, is the fastest growing platform in the country, jumping from five million to nine million users over the last year. Its growth has been driven by younger demographics, but more people in the 25 – 44 age groups joined during lockdown.
Twitter’s growth in South Africa, compared to other platforms, has been relatively stagnant, up only 4% from last year, to 9.3 million users.
YouTube has provided an alternative to paid-TV services like Showmax and Netflix locally. The platform has a reported base of 24 million people in South Africa, with World Wide Worx’s data showing around 16 million active viewers.
Professional social network LinkedIn saw its numbers increase from 7.5 million to 8.4 million users.