SA Social Media Landscape 2020 – another perspective re industry survey

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | 5 Jul

Ornico‘s latest annual South African Social Media Landscape report was recently published.

I took the time to go through the report with great interest, as I usually do with relevant digital data reports involving Africa.

My eye was drawn to the stats from the results of the industry survey that formed part of the report. 

The survey is made up of 39 questions, and there were 101 responses by companies – also referred to as brands in this eNsight – from these main industries: 

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Industries | 5 Jul

The findings of the industry survey inspired thoughts regarding South Africa’s social media landscape topic, which I share in this eNsight.

For ease of navigation, here below is a table of contents.

Table of Contents

Summary findings of the industry survey

1. Social media engagement

The overarching finding of the industry survey is that brands experienced a marked decline in social media engagement in South Africa in the previous year. 

eNitiate refers to social media engagement as an output metric under the 1+4 Metric Matrix Model that was published in September 2019.

The rationale here is that engagement by netizens is, in the main, a result of social media activities by brands or other netizens who mention them.


1+4 Metric Matrix - the perfect science for measurement of social media marketing

2. Brands' social media marketing

 The survey also found that there were reductions by brands in:

  • social media resource capacity (from marketing teams to individuals),
  • associated training budgets,
  • social media posting activity, and
  • paid media support;

which Marketers highlighted in their responses.

The activities above, which we refer to as input metricsare part of drivers of social media engagement.

As can be expected, effectiveness of a brand’s social media activities has a lot to do with the resulting engagement.

The main reason given for the indicated reductions is the slashing of social media budgets. 

You can find the stats of some of the reductions in the last section in this eNsight.


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3. Special mention of LinkedIn

There was another key finding worth noting in the industry survey, which was an exception – Marketers are shifting their focus to LinkedIn, as signaled by

  • increased activity on this platform,
  • intention to open new accounts by the brands that do not have presence yet, and
  • increased budget;

in contrast to the declines on the other main social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

I shall share my perspective on the findings above later in this eNsight.

Filling in the information gap

There was missing information in the report with regards to reasons for the slashing of social media budgets that is attributed to reductions in brands’ social media marketing.

I consider the missing information crucial for context. 

My attempt to fill this information gap forms the gist of this eNsight.

But first, let me relate two stories for background.


I noted that, according to the Social Media Landscape’s industry survey, brands’ social media strategies are in place for 57.8% of B2B and 76.5% of B2C businesses. 

I also noted, curiously, the observation that was shared in the report’s findings that Marketers tend to put their weight behind platforms they use themselves, and thus this could explain the increase in focus on LinkedIn.

Two stories: Marketers getting it wrong


Recently, eNitiate was asked by a client to submit a proposal for paid digital media support for a customer education campaign.

Client indicated up front that the budget for the paid media support was tight.

In our response, we presented 3 options in support of the campaign – (1) boosting of social media content, (2) Web native content advertising and (3) display advertising.

Our recommendation was going with options 1 and 2, given the key objective and the tight budget.

Anyone who knows anything about digital media advertising will tell you that display advertising can be a pricy option.

On revert, client instructed us to go with options 1 and 3.

Reason? The client’s boss is a regular visitor of one of the news Websites where the campaign banners were going to be displayed!


SEO analysis of top 100 Websites gives clues about South Africa’s state of digital economy


Way back when, years before the advent of Facebook, I had a 2-year stint as a junior Brand Manager while at SA Breweries.

In-store brand and sales promotions were a big thing then, and caps and t-shirts were among the most frequently used consumer prizes.

Without much concrete evidence, Brand Managers – myself included, mentioned that consumers were tired of t-shirts and caps, and we felt that this adversely affected the success of the in-store promotions as a result. 

Tough thing was, there was not much available as alternative prizes that were equally attractive, cheap and easily distributable.

As it turned out, we were the ones tired of t-shirts and caps, and not the consumers. 

I know this because for many years after I left the beer industry, caps and t-shirts were still the most frequently used promotion prizes, and judging by the number of consumers wearing them to this day, they continue to be among the most popular.

The morale of the 2 stories?

Let me answer this with another question – what informed the decision by brands to reduce social media activities?

Do the the social media consumption trends in South Africa support the industry survey results?

Assuming that brands’ single-most objective for being on social media is to engage consumers, has there been any fundamental change in the consumption of this media type in South Africa in the last two years or so, which may explain the declines in the brands’ social media activities?

To answer the question above, I reference three reputable industry reports.

1. Demographic and Media Consumption Trends Report 2020

According to the the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa’s latest Media Consumption Trends report:


of SA households have smartphones (slide 27)


of SA households have access to the Internet (slide 33)


of SAns use mobile data for Internet (slides 68 & 69) 

Year on year, Smartphone usage increased by 9%, Internet access by 8%, mobile data usage by 2%.

While this report does not include social media trends, it covers growths in Internet access and devices used, which are directly correlated to the social media consumption trends.

2. The Digital 2020 Report

2.1. South Africa's social media consumption is high, and growing

I published the annual analysis of South Africa’s digital media consumption trends, based on the country’s global rankings, in March this year

The rankings are across the following 4 key indictors: 

  1. Time spent on the Internet
  2. Time spent on mobile Internet
  3. Time spent on social media
  4. Social media used for work


4 stats show South Africa’s digital adoption rates are growing ahead of global trends

According to the widely used Digital Reports of 2019 and 2020 – the sources of stats for the March eNsight, South Africa has increased its global rankings across all the 4 indicators above. 


  • South Africa has moved 5 places from the previous year, to the 9th spot in the world with regards to time spent on social media; and
  • the country is in the 3rd spot – from 5th place the previous year – on social media used for work, pointing to
    • the maturation of this channel, and
    • the entrenchment of its always-on character.  

The last sub-bullet above – read together with increase in time spent on social media – is significant and it cannot be glossed over. 

Simply put, South African consumers are most likely accessible, and most likely all the time, on social media, more than any other medium of communication.   

Implications for brands?

2.2. Order of the most preferred social networks has not changed

According to the Digital 2020 Report, South Africa’s Internet users aged between 16 and 64 are into the following main social network platforms:

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Digital 2020 Report South Africa 2020 | 5 Jul
Source: Digital 2020 South Africa Report

Here are 3 key findings from the Social Network Platforms graph above:

  • Overall, there have not been major shifts on the social media landscape in South Africa in 2020. 
  • LinkedIn is third last social network in the packing order of consumption, and it registered moderate growth in line with the overall trend for the country.
  • The one significant change is the showing of Tik Tok on the scene.
    This social network was not mentioned in the previous year’s report.

The graph clearly indicates where consumers prefer to be engaged.

Implications for brands?

I found out the following related to paid digital media ad spend:

  • Internet advertising in South Africa is expected to grow by average 14% between 2019 and 2021
    At this rate, Internet ad spend will exceed tv ad spend within the next 3-4 years for the first time.
Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Statista | SA Media Spend - 2018 to 2021 | 11 Jul
SA Media Spend - 2018 to 2021 | Source: Statista
  • According to the latest Internet Advertising Revenue Report by IAB SA, South Africa’s Internet ad spend for 2019 was R4 billion, and social media ad spend was estimated at R1.7 billion. 
    In addition, Statista shows social media ad budgets are on a healthy growth trajector between 2017 and 2024.

Implications for brands?

My perspective on the industry survey


Brands’ decreased social media activities finding by the Social Media Landscape’s industry survey is at odds with the increased social media consumption and ad spend trends. 

In addition, Marketers’ increased focus on LinkedIn at the expense of other main social networks is not supported by the stats that clearly point them to where their consumers are.

My takeouts

My view, based on the insights above, is that Marketers do not take the time to to inform themselves about social media trends that are backed by hard numbers.

As a result, they run the risk that their new media strategies are not robust, and this leads to inability to sell and defend these strategies.

When this happens, and brands are under pressure to cut costs, logically social media budgets will be among the first to suffer.


The KNOWLEDGE GAP in digital marketing-related skills in Africa is as high as 60%! 

My advice

The advent of COVID-19 induced physical distancing is only going to increase the importance of online communications, and specifically social media.

The pressure on senior and executive Marketing personnel to improve the relevant social media marketing competencies is going to mount. 

The days when competencies related to this channel are relegated to junior staff are over.  

Help is in abundance, from the likes of eNitiate and many others in the industry. 

All that Marketers must do is shout. 

Learning from the best

In driving my advice home, I would like to quote Tumelo Komape – the Deputy Director of Online Media Communications at Joburg Metropolitan Municipality, the local government with the largest Twitter community of over one million followers in Africa:

Your job, as a Marketer, is to be where your people are. Not anywhere else.   

It [is] wasteful expenditure to communicate on irrelevant platforms. 

Are the two quotations above from a representative of a public service brand that has become a shining example of social media success across Africa relevant for commercial brands?

I believe they are, and I hope you agree.


Joburg leads Top 18 African Cities on Twitter, and there's more

Industry survey: scratching the surface further

Are you curious to dig deeper into the industry survey report?

Of the 39 questions that formed part of the survey, I have picked response stats for five of them, in line with the theme of this eNsight. 

Tap to open each of the selected responses here below. 

Survey respondents were asked to rate the effectiveness of the social networks that they use. 

While the list was long, I selected only the 5 main platforms most used for brand communications.

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Rating of Effectiveness of Main Social Networks | 5 Jul


  • Most brands rate the of social networks to be doing just fine, as symbolised by a 3 rating in the grey part of the graph above.
    Facebook is the most effective social network, followed by Instagram.
    Youtube is rated as the least effective social network, followed by Twitter.
  • When compared to last year, the overall effectiveness of the social networks declined, based on the magnitudes of 4 and 5 rating changes.
    Facebook took the biggest pounding.

So, how are brands measuring the effectiveness of social media?

To answer this question, I looked at the survey results of top 4 social networks in South Africa, excluding Youtube.

Bra WillyThe main finding from the digital adoption analysis is that, there are more South Africans consuming online media, and they increasingly spend more time on these platforms. As a result, South Africa's performance has markedly improved versus many other top-ranking countries, as demonstrated in the eNsight. Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Effectiveness Metrics | 5 Jul


  • Overall, the top 3 metrics are clicks, and engagement metrics (likes/shares/RT’s/mentions/comments/replies), with varying emphases by social network.
  • Twitter seems to be having more key (5) metrics for it, versus other social networks.

What are the barriers to deriving full value from social media? 

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Barriers to Deriving More Social Media Value | 5 Jul


  • Budget stands out, by far, as the biggest barrier to brands’ ability to maximise value of social media.

The level of resourcing for management of social media affects the effectiveness of social media marketing, and the intended outcomes. 

How well resourced was this new media channel?

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Management of Social Media Accounts | 5 Jul


  • Social media accounts are run by Marketing teams in the main, but there was a  reduction in this resource, while management by individuals grew. 

In my experience, the effectiveness of social media depends, to a large degree, on the availability of expert skills.

So how are the existing skills rated, and what are the plans to improve them, where relevant? 

Bra WillyThe main finding from the digital adoption analysis is that, there are more South Africans consuming online media, and they increasingly spend more time on these platforms. As a result, South Africa's performance has markedly improved versus many other top-ranking countries, as demonstrated in the eNsight. Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Rating of Existing SM Skills | 5 Jul

Bra Willy Seyama | eNitiate | Ornico | Social Media Landscape 2020 | Industry Survey | Development of Social Media Skills in 2020 | 5 Jul


  • Participating brands feel they have adequate skills for effective social media marketing, judged by 3 and 4 ratings in the top graph.
  • The only year-on-year decline was recorded for optimal skills (rating 5) in the bottom graph. 
  • Also concerning, is the decline in training of staff (graph on the right), and fact that 1 in 4 brands have no plans to address the training needs on this ever-changing digital communications environment.

Recognition of effort made

Edited on 14 July 2020.

It is always fulfilling to be commended for the effort made in developing an eNsight, especially when the mention is unsolicited and comes from the main source of the report that was used to develop the eNsight.  

Allow me to gloat for a second:

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