Equal number of South African men, women use Facebook

4 November 2014

A social media study has revealed that an equal number of men and women in South Africa use Facebook, with 5.6-million men and 5.6-million women logging onto the social network.

The SA Social Media Landscape 2015 report which was released on Monday, 3 November, showed Facebook remained the most popular social network in South Africa, followed by YouTube and Twitter.

The report was compiled by technology market research organisation World Wide Worx and analytics company Fuseware. The study excludes instant messaging services.

The findings of the study reveal the extent to which social media has become mainstream, according to World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck. He said the level of equality is a clear sign of both the maturity of the platform and its mainstream use as an everyday tool rather than as a high-tech choice.

Goldstuck said 8.8-million South Africans accessed Facebook on their cellphones. “This means that targeting Facebook users is not a matter only of marketing on the Facebook website — its mobile properties are probably more important.’

The biggest phone operating system used in South Africa for Facebook was Android, which grew from 1.26-million users in 2013 to 3.2-million in 2014. BlackBerry fell from the top position to second with a drop from 2.6-million to 2.4- million.

Apple’s iOS remained in third place with a relatively stable number of 580 000 users, while the Windows Phone emerged from below the radar with 124 000 to 260 000.

“More important than the operating system numbers, however, is the split between feature phones and smartphones,” Goldstuck said, adding that 5-million Facebook users still use feature phones.

“While smartphones only just dominate, at 5.6-million, it is clear that a large Facebook user-base is still on a basic device,” he said.

Feature phones are low-end and have more limited features than high-tech smartphones.

The most commonly used handset for Facebook was the Nokia Asha, with 1.78- million users. In second place was the Blackberry Curve 8520 at 660 000 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 at 400 000.

“This statistic is also significant, bearing in mind the S4 is a premium device, underlining its social appeal in South Africa,” said Goldstuck.

The Facebook user-base was beginning to resemble South Africa’s urban population, according to Fuseware MD Mike Wronski.

“The highest growth in the user-base is seen in three key economic hubs, namely Johannesburg (55%), Pretoria (49%) and Cape Town (44%),” he said, adding that quite interestingly, Nelspruit continues to show high growth at 40%.

Wronski said South Africa bucked the global trend of younger users reportedly falling dramatically as a proportion of the user base. “There is much debate about teenagers abandoning the platform, but it’s not yet a factor in South Africa. The 13- 18 age group remains the single biggest on Facebook with 2.5-million users,” he said.

SAinfo reporter