The SA Social Media Landscape Report 2023


As we mark World Social Media Day, coinciding with the release of the South Africa Social Media Landscape Report 2023, it’s clear that the role of the younger demographic on social platforms is becoming increasingly significant. A surge in popularity for platforms such as TikTok and Shein is redefining the digital landscape, leaving us with a vital question – are we adequately understanding and supporting these young users in their digital journeys?

The discussion on this matter is enriched by the insights of Dean McCoubrey, Founder of MySociaLife, who states, “The numbers and most popular apps clearly indicate the rising users joining social media after the pandemic. We have seen a massive increase in screen time. Now add the type of content that’s most popular – TikTok and Shein – and we can see the power of GenZ online.”

SA Social Media Landscape Report

McCoubrey underscores the disconnect between brands and this emerging audience. Many are struggling to effectively communicate with Gen Z, whilst upholding their responsibility to provide a safe, authentic, and engaging digital environment.

Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx brings further clarity to the situation with an in-depth analysis of TikTok’s meteoric rise in South Africa. Goldstuck remarks, “TikTok’s explosion in South Africa continues, undeterred by moves among Western governments to curtail its usage due to fears of it being used as a spying mechanism by the Chinese government.”

Goldstuck identifies the youth audience as the driving force behind TikTok’s success, with a whopping 44% penetration rate among the 15-24 age group. With the platform already being the go-to choice for under-15s, a significant domino effect is predicted in the coming years as these users transition into higher age groups.

Goldstuck posits a significant shift looming on the horizon – if the current trend continues, TikTok is set to overtake Facebook among the 15-24 age group in the coming years, which could destabilise Facebook’s overall dominance of the social media landscape.

However, Goldstuck also reveals a chink in TikTok’s armor – the correlation between its usage and socio-economic levels. At the highest level, SEL 1, TikTok’s penetration is a staggering 57%. However, this figure gradually tapers off to a mere 8% in the lowest SELs, indicating that TikTok usage tends to correlate with socio-economic privilege.

As McCoubrey warns, “In 2030, current Grade 5 will matriculate. The social landscape then will be VR and metaverse driven. Adults and brands had better start now to bridge the generational and technological divide. The social media landscape report tells that story.”

In the grand narrative of the digital age, platforms like TikTok and Shein are changing the game. As we celebrate World Social Media Day, we need to reflect on these shifts and understand the importance of supporting and guiding the young navigators of this evolving digital world.

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