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TikTok Set for Explosive Growth in South Africa, says Expert

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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South Africa’s largest annual study of social media trends has revealed that Facebook remains the social platform of choice for marketing – but TikTok is rising fast among both brands and consumers.

According to the 2020 edition of the SA Social Media Landscape, released this week by World Wide Worx and Ornico, almost a third of major brands intend to become active on TikTok, which is also the fastest growing social media platform among consumers. Fewer than 20% of brands have used it in the past year, but none believe they are doing so very effectively.

These numbers are likely to change significantly during 2020. It is estimated that around 6-million South Africans are already using the platform. Nine out of ten major brands – just more than 89% – indicated they were active on Facebook, versus 77% on Twitter, 75% on LinkedIn and 68% on Instagram.

“There was a common factor across all these platforms, however: a substantial drop in engagement from the previous year,” says Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, a business tech researching company, and lead analyst on the project.

“The one exception was LinkedIn, which saw a small increase in activity by major brands. LinkedIn also led the way in the proportion of older platforms that were intending to use it for the first time in the coming year: a large 21%. One could argue that LinkedIn is a social platform whose time has come.”

Not surprisingly, a lack of budget has emerged as the single most significant barrier to implementing social media strategies. A massive 18% are not allocating budget to social media, compared to only 1% last year. While Facebook remains the dominant platform among both brands and consumers, it has lost some appeal in terms of marketing budgets.

“Facebook spend has plateaued,” says Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico, a Johannesburg-based market researcher. “This signals how brands are looking at prioritising their budgets across platforms, which can also talk to where brands look to increase their communication.”

Patricios believes TikTok is set for explosive growth.

“Launched in China in 2016, TikTok is seen as the new kid on the block in South Africa which marketers and communicators are scrambling to understand.”

Goldstuck agrees, saying that “The popularity of social media environments for brands has in the past been shown to be directly related to the level of usage of those platforms by marketers. Hence, TikTok is almost non-existent among big brands, as the marketers behind those brands are not active on TikTok.”

Instagram in SA and Negativity on Twitter

Twitter and Instagram both showed strong growth in the past year, each reaching a user base of about 9-million. Data analysed for the SA Social Media Landscape 2020 report from the Target Group Index (TGI), a research survey among 30,000 South Africans conducted by Ask Afrika, shows that just over half of Instagram and Twitter users – 4,7-million on each – are highly active on these platforms.

Contrary to the view that Twitter is primarily a vehicle for negative sentiment, data on all South African tweets over a 12 month period, provided for the project by audience intelligence company Brandwatch, shows a different picture. Of the tweets reflecting sentiment, 61% comprise positive sentiments, against 39% negative.  However, it is clear that even 39% remains a high proportion, and generates significant shade over the Twitter landscape in general.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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