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Facebook maintains hold across brands, consumers

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 03 Jul 2024
A social media landscape report shows Facebook continues its reign.
A social media landscape report shows Facebook continues its reign.

South African organisations are putting their money into Facebook, for both marketing and interacting with customers.

This is one of the key findings of the SA Social Media Landscape 2024 report, released by brand intelligence consultancy Ornico and market research house World Wide Worx. Ornico and World Wide Worx also included data based on Ask Afrika's Target Group Index.

The annual report provides trends analysis of the local social media landscape, as well as deep dives into the impact of artificial intelligence technologies, such as large language models, on brand credibility.

The report surveyed more than 130 of SA’s biggest brands, in an effort to gain insight into how they are using social media platforms and which they plan to use in the coming year.

Detailing some findings, World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck said Meta-owned Facebook remains the platform that is most heavily-used by local organisations, despite a slight dip.

Goldstuck explained that 78% of the surveyed corporations were using Facebook, down from 84% in 2023. “This is an overall trend we’ve witnessed for a few years now, as Facebook tends to ride roughshod over the sensibilities of its users and the companies using it as a platform.”

After Facebook, online professional network service LinkedIn is the second most used platform by brands, followed by Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), he revealed.

In the case of X, Goldstuck said it represents the shift in SA’s social media use, with the platform experiencing a “dramatic” decline, from a high of 90% of brands using it in 2018, to 51% in 2024.

“The decline has been precipitous, but it's a decline that began well before [Elon] Musk took over, as the platform floundered under its previous leadership. From 2018 to 2022, it dropped from 90% to 69% of major SA brands using it.

“The drop in the last two years is a reflection of the trajectory that we saw over the previous four years. But 51% for a brand that was once so dominant in the social media landscape is quite dramatic. We won’t be surprised to see it diminish even further.”

On the other hand, newcomer TikTok has continued its relentless rise, going up 5% from 28% in 2023, to 33% in 2024. “Bear in mind it didn't exist before 2020 among major brands in this country. In that year, 1% of brands were using it.”

When respondents were asked which platforms companies intended to use in the coming year, TikTok came in at number one, with 32% of brands saying they plan to use it, according to the report.

In terms of platforms brands are planning to use, TikTok was number one in 2023, and the increase in actual use in 2024 is the biggest, by 5%.

“One can see that ‘planning to use’ as a ranking is indicative of where brands are going. We can also see that, aside from TikTok, there is almost no differentiation in the next five platforms in terms of what brands are planning to use.

Brands are planning to use Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp, with X also in the mix. “If you take a typical conversion ratio from planning to actual use, then you could say around one-fifth of those will actually implement. That means it won't make a dramatic impact on the landscape in the coming year.”

Social spend trends

In spending on social media, the report uncovered a slight uptick at the lower-end. Where in 2023, 64% of brands were going to spend less than R10 000, that has dropped to 51%.

On the other hand, spending between R10 000 and R20 000 has gone up from 11% to 18%, which are significant shifts, but shifts at the low end of spending.

In the highest categories of spending, there is almost no change. “Those spending more than R50 000 have gone up from 13% to 14%. This means the brands that were less invested in social media are becoming slightly more invested in social media.

“The primary purposes of usage remain fairly similar, with building brand awareness dropping slightly from 76% to 72% this year, and increasing brand engagement dropping from 58% to 55%.

“We saw a big shift in using it as a core part of a marketing campaign. This dropped from 71% to 54%. All of this suggests brands are falling out of love with social media. That's partly to do with the instability across all platforms.

“The bottom line of the industry survey is that the social media platforms need to regain the trust of the major brands in South Africa and, by extension, probably the rest of the world.”

Facebook still reigns supreme, commented Oresti Patricios, CEO of Ornico, saying while it’s been predicted that people are leaving the social media platform in droves, the opposite is in effect.

According to Patricios, user numbers for people aged 22 was 56.7%, while users aged 23 was at 59.6%.

Looking at the 15-24 age group, he said a high percentage of them are using the social media platform. “I thought the younger people were leaving Facebook and moving to Instagram and TikTok, or some of the other platforms,” he noted. “We even saw an increase among the highly-active Facebook users.”

TikTok users increased from 30% to 34%, while Instagram dropped slightly from 27% to 26%, he revealed.

On the other end, X is bleeding users, dropping dramatically from 22% to 19%, stated Patricios.