The best mobile networks in South Africa – according to South Africans

BrandsEye has published its South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index for 2019, gauging how the South African public at large feel about the country’s biggest mobile networks.

The index is based on an analysis of over 538,000 social media posts made between December 2018 and March 2019, which are assigned sentiment scores based on their content.

Sentiment scores are either positive, negative or neutral, and measure overall satisfaction and opinion towards a brand.

BrandsEye also looked at 78 telecommunications topics that were identified in the posts, to determine key areas of interest to consumers.

Each network provider is given a ‘net sentiment’ score, which is the value left after subtracting the total negative score from the positive score.

If South Africans are more positive towards a brand than negative, the net score will be positive.

South Africans aren’t happy with the networks

Across the entire telecoms index, the overall feeling from South Africans towards the mobile operators is negative, with not a single operator ending up with a net score in the black.

“Consumers were highly dissatisfied with their service providers, generating over five times more negative than positive conversation,” BrandsEye said.

The industry averaged with a net score of -45.3%, with Cell C and MTN having the least-worst sentiment at -36.9% and -38.4%, respectively.

Vodacom and Telkom emerged as having the worst sentiment overall, with the red network carrying the least favourable view with a net score of -53.5%, and Telkom slightly ahead at -49.7%.

Vodacom and Telkom also had the highest share of voice overall (ie, the most posts about them), but as the data shows, just because people are talking about you, it does not necessarily mean they have nice things to say.

Vodacom’s negative sentiment was largely driven by the Please Call Me saga, with direct references to the issue accounting for 36.8% of Vodacom’s overall negative sentiment.

Excluding sentiment from the Please Call Me saga, Vodacom still has a negative net sentiment score of -44.7%, putting it above Telkom, but still below MTN and Cell C.

The most positively discussed service provider was Cell C, whose net sentiment exceeded the industry average by 8.3 percentage points.

Data-related posts comprised 25.4% of this provider’s positive conversation, largely driven by the 1GB it offered all its users in compensation for a service interruption on 1 December 2018.

What people are talking about

According to BrandsEye’s data, the biggest drivers of discussion around the mobile networks were around ethics, reputation, customer service and products.

“Close to 50% of all conversation pertained to ethics or reputation. Customer service and products were also widely discussed, while staff or HR and pricing generated the least conversation,” the group said.

Within the five most-spoken about themes, network received the highest percentage of negative conversation, this was unsurprisingly followed by customer service.

54% of network complaints were about connectivity issues. While 78% of customer service complaints pertained to turnaround time, it said.

Negative topics

Positive topics

“Although social media feedback is overwhelmingly complaints-based, it still comprises valuable insight on what is making consumers happy,” the group said.

“And while the topic of data is a contentious one in the South African context, with much of the conversation being negative, it is also the topic that contributed the most to the positive conversation.”

Telkom’s data affordability and flexibility of data use, drove significant reputational and commercial advantage, the group said.


Read: The best mobile networks in South Africa: MTN vs Vodacom vs Cell C vs Telkom vs Rain

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The best mobile networks in South Africa – according to South Africans