South African’s Social Media Habits Revealed

Updated on 11 October 2017

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South African's Social Media Habits Revealed

In their analysis of South Africans’ social media conversations, Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company, identified four key themes undergoing significant change – travel and hospitality, entertainment, fitness and sport and automotive.

Crimson Hexagon in partnership with YouKnow Digital launched the South African Consumer Trends Report which offers actionable insights, essential for any local or global brand aiming to gain a better understanding of South African consumers.

The findings have been compiled from billions of consumers, giving insight to social media posts between 2012 and 2016, across Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other forums on conversations around trends and how they have changed, they also reveal South African consumers’ priorities and concerns.

South Africans are increasingly active across social media platforms, with the country’s 26.8 million internet users spending almost three hours a day on social media. With only 27% social media penetration as of January 2017, there’s still plenty of room for growth. This is good news for those trying to gain more understanding of consumers.

Want to better understand South African consumers? – Here are highlights from the Consumer Trends Report.


  • Family holidays are a central feature in the discussion around travel, making up 26% of the discussion.
  • 76% of the discussion around holiday and travel intent is happening on Twitter.
  • From May 2016 onwards, Instagram has been the fastest-growing content source for intention to travel, growing by 32% compared to the previous year.
  • Beach-related conversation outdid bush-related conversation by a ratio of 2.7 to 1.


  • The majority of recreational media consumption still traditionally takes place, via TV, which tends to be a communal activity. But it’s also interesting to note that 25% of the conversation mentions the use of a tablet – a typically much more personal viewing experience.
  • During 2016, 58% watched Showmax vs the 42% who claimed to watch Netflix. Pricing issues may also have been a factor, as Netflix does not price in rands.
  • Nearly half (43%) of viewers still used a traditional/smart TV when streaming shows.
  • Showmax has an older audience than Netflix, with 93% of contributions to the conversation coming from the over 25s, compared to 82% for Netflix.
  • Android dominates over iOS; capturing 76% of the share of voice between 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016.


  • For brands looking at marketing to consumers in the fitness arena, Instagram is a prime bet for driving social engagement.
  • Twitter and Facebook both saw a 65% decline in gym-related posts over the four years.
  • The over-35s make up a disproportionate amount of conversation volume around gym-going: over twice the amount of the next largest age group (25-34).
  • Crossfit is on the rise on Instagram, making up the highest volume of content coming from Instagram (18%).
  • People are shifting away from running towards cycling. Cycling has captured 8% of running’s volume over 4 years.


  • Despite South Africa’s turbulent economic times, the country’s automotive market is alive and well. People have strong opinions on their preferred car brands.
  • BMW, Toyota, Mercedes, Audi and Ford are the most frequently mentioned of the top-selling car brands in South Africa.
  • Twitter is responsible for most of the conversation around automotive, with an 83% chunk of the overall volume.
  • 58% of the conversation around servicing vehicles is negative.
  • BMW receives the most positivity of any brand, 35% positive and only 19% negative.

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