Brand South Africa In Numbers – Part 4

Welcome to the last blog of this 4-Part series on online analysis of Brand South Africa. 

In Part 3 I addressed the question: has the online performance of the Nation Brand’s flagship programme – Play Your Part (PYP) – been satisfactory to date?

In this blog I ask:

Is Brand South Africa using hashtags effectively to amplify the Play Your Part initiative?

Here’s to the last blog in this series.

Table of Contents

Recap of the past 3 blogs in this series

The question above is informed by the findings that I have shared in the 3 previous posts that are part of this series, which are the following:

  • Brand South Africa is not participating in topics that can assist in strengthening its relations with the youth, a key constituency in the country’s population – Post 1;
  • The Nation Brand has a larger social network community and posts more frequently than Brand Kenya, but the latter is mentioned more and its content is more engaging – Post 2; and
  • PYP’s online presence is weak, as judged by Youtube video views and low #PlayYourPartSA tweet volume.
    This is worrying for a programme that has been around for as long as it has – Post 3.

The findings above are all not mutually exclusive. 

I shall close this post with recommendations that will certainly improve the Nation Brand’s online presence if they [recommendations] are implemented.

Back to the subject of this post. 

I shall demonstrate shortly why selecting hashtags has to be treated as part of communications strategy development. 

Equally importantly, the analytics tools I use will make it clear that hashtag selection exercise is a scientific process and should not be done randomly.

What is the value of hashtags?

Let me quote SproutSocial on the value of adding hashtags to social network posts:

Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their post, it’s able to be indexed by the social network and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users. Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that aggregates all of the posts with the same hashtags, in real-time.

Here is a point worth emphasising – a brand must make an effort to create and develop unique hashtags that can be appropriated, with the objective of incorporating them in its digital real estate that can be used effectively to give it [the brand] a longer life through direct association.

Edited 13 December 2020

The tweet above does not have a hashtag, but it is apt for illustrating the principle of developing digital real estate that can extend a brand’s life, including online. 

As many of us hopefully know, the line “Give that man a Bell’s” was developed by the brand Bell’s long before the social media era.

In the selection of its hashtags, Brand South Africa should be driven by the need to achieve the same or similar brand development goal as Bell’s.

Analysis of hashtags that are used by @BrandSA and @PlayYourPartSA

Using a tool called Vicinitas, I analysed 3 200 most recent tweets by each of the two Brand South Africa handles – @BrandSA (main handle) and @PlayYourPartSA (secondary handle).

First, the topline stats of the 2 handles as at 29 March 2019:

Handle (rounded off): @Brand_SA @PlayYourPartSA
Followers: 149 000 13 500
Tweets/day: 5.7 2.5
Engagements/Tweet: 23.5 14.8

Key finding:

  • The main handle has a significantly bigger community, tweets more and has higher engagement rate.
    This is not surprising.

Here are the top 10 hashtags most mentioned per each handle:



Key findings:

  • The two handles are dedicated to different focus areas of the Nation Brand. However, I was expecting a higher level of cross-over amplification in the promotion of PYP – as a flagship programme it needs all the help it can get to give it legs on social media.
  • PYP has been promoted using #GetInvolved and #PlayYourPart, which hashtags are first and second respectively on @PlayYourPartSA’s top 10 list.

I have questions that I believe only Brand South Africa can answer:

  • What is the reason for using 2 hashtags for the promotion of PYP?
  • What is the formula for using the two hashtags?
  • Is there a reason why #GetInvolved is preferred over #PlayYourPart for the promotion of PYP?
  • Why is it that @PlayYourPartSA was not replicated 100% in the conversion into a hashtag?
    Why was “SA” suffix dropped from #PlayYourPart?

Analysis of #GetInvolved and #PlayYourPart tweet maps

My first reaction to the current PYP hashtags is that they are too general and cannot be appropriated by the Nation Brand. 

To prove this, I used a tool called Export Tweet to determine geographic footprint of #GetInvolved and #PlayYourPart mentions.

#GetInvolved Tweet Map | March 2019
#PlayYourPart Tweet Map | March 2019

Interpretation of the tweet maps above is that the two hashtags are used by Tweeps in many parts of the world. 

The key insight from this finding is that the currently used PYP hashtags are common on Twitter, and they are associated with all sorts of other causes. 

As a result, tweet mentions of these hashtags cannot be attributed to PYP alone, which makes their analysis an arduous task.

Here are the most liked and retweeted #GetInvolved tweets between 25 and 29 March 2019, to make the point about how difficult it is to analyse performance of this hashtag for PYP:

Do you recognise any of the handles in the screenshot above?

What if Brand South Africa used #PlayYourPartSA as the official PYP hashtag instead?

#PlayYourPartSA Tweet Map | March 2019

Despite the current low volumes as pointed in Post 3 of this 4-part series, indicative results show that #PayYourPartSA can be located ONLY in South Africa, compared to #PlayYourPart. 

This alone can improve quality of analysis of the associated mentions hugely.


  • Based on the indicative tweet map analysis above, Brand South Africa can appropriate and develop #PlayYourPartSA.
  • There is no value in using two hashtags that achieve the same goal, as may be the case in the current online promotion of PYP.
  • Linked to the previous point, #GetInvolved does not add much value in the online development of PYP.
    Thus, I would advise that this hashtag be dropped.
  • @Brand_SA must be used more actively to amplify published PYP content, especially from @PlayYourPartSA.
    With combined effort, this initiative’s online presence will grow much faster.

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