South Africa’s leading cities battle it out on #socialmedia

About this post

In this post, our analysis shows that City of Joburg’s @CityofJoburgZA Twitter marketing ticks the right boxes in comparison with City of Cape Town’s @CityofCT. Results of our analysis lead us to conclude that it is only a matter of time before the former takes the crown for being the best-performing metropolitan municipality on social media.


Source of inspiration

An article in the Daily News of 24 February 2015 compared social media accounts of 4 of South Africa’s 8 Metropolitan municipalities – Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane and eThekwini.

Using Twitter follower numbers as a proxy, Cape Town and Johannesburg clearly lead the social media race. Here is how the two metros stack up:


Source: FollowerWonk

@CityofCT (COCT) has more Twitter followers than @CityofJoburgZA (COJ). Notice that the 2 Twitter handles share just under 7 000 followers between them. In our experience, this indicates that the two accounts have (or are perceived to have) little in common, hence they share such a small number of followers. Accounts that have something in common – e.g. South African low-cost airlines Kulula and Mango, share a higher number of followers between them.


City of Joburg’s Twitter follower growth target

On the 18th of March 2015 we had a Hangout on eNitiate Visual Radio – our weekly Internet radio show that is currently hosted on Radio Junto – with COJ Group Communications Social Media Manager Tumelo Komape about Africa’s world class city’s social media performance. Tumelo indicated that COJ’s Twitter account is growing at 8 000 Twitter followers monthly, and that he is targeting 100 0000 followers by June 2015. Our back-of-match-box calculation indicates that this is arguably a soft target at current performance levels. Let us show you why we hold this view, using a few analytics tools with complementary findings.


Forecasted comparative Twitter follower growths

If an assumption is made that both COJ and COCT are going to grow at the same average daily rate for the period to 20 June 2015, then COJ will grow its Twitter followers to 101837. Thus, Tumelo’s target  is a soft one.

While COCT will still be ahead in forecasted number Twitter followers, this may not last forever if if the 2 metros maintain  their current Twitter content strategies. We explain what we mean in the rest of this post.


Social influence

The COJ and COCT are doing well on Twitter as indicated by their healthy Klout scores.

In simple terms, Klout score is a measure of a Twitter handle’s level of social influence. A score that is close to the maximum of 100 is highly desirable.


Comparison of Twitter followers

Compare Twitter followers of COCT and COJ in this slider.

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 Source: Twitter Counter

Twitter Counter indicates that current daily Twitter follower growths average 283 for COJ and 210 followers for COCT. Based on the growth trend above, COJ’s average daily growth is 35% higher than COCT.


Comparison of Twitter activities

COCT joined Twitter in April 2010 and COJ joined in March 2012, according to the 2 Metros’ Twitter profiles. However, COJ has published more than 33 000 posts and COCT just under 18 000, to date. Here is an analysis of the tweeting behaviour of the 2 Metros, presented in a slider:

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Source: Xefer

As the 2 tweeting behaviour graphs above show, COCT engages 1,3 times (REPLIES + RT) for every 1 tweet, while COJ engages 0,67 times for every 1 tweet. Put differently, COCT engages more, while COJ broadcasts more. On the surface, COCT is doing well by being a chatty Twitterer than COJ. However, a deeper analysis indicates that COJ’s social content has higher potential of being more engaging than COCT.

Source: Twtrland 

Notice the following from the 2 pie charts above:

  • Compared to COCT, COJ’s tweets have a higher percentage of mentions – indicating that social conversations are initiated with inclusion of selected Twitter handles in them. Comparative demographic analysis of the 2 accounts’ follower demographics indicates that COJ’s base has close 40% of them being power users – that is, Twitterers who have high social influence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Source: Twtrland

If COJ’s mentions include the power users, then this will increase reach for its content, which in turn has a positive correlation with increase in new followers.  Thus, COJ’s social content strategy that incorporates tweet mentions can bear desired results.

  • COJ’s tweet content has higher percentage of pictures than COCT’s. According to Socialbakers‘ recent finding, pictures get most engagement of all types of content on Twitter.

Clearly COJ’s twitter content strategy is on the money.


Our conclusion

Using current social media marketing initiatives by @CityofJoburgZA and @Cityof CT as a predictor, our conclusion is that City of Joburg’s Twitter follower base is going to surpass City of Cape Town’s base in not too distant future.

Let us know if you agree with our analysis, findings and conclusion in the COMMENT section below.


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  • Dan


    First of all a disclosure i work on the city of cape town’s social media team. Thanks for writing about this subject – what hopefully comes through is that both cities are really making an effort on social media. Which is great and it’s really not a competition – I think both cities social media teams are learnings lots from each other. I do think it’s important to look at the context around a few of these stats:

    – the cities have different population sizes (so comparing social media followings should be done as a proportion of residents in both cases there is alot of room to grow)
    – fan / follower size is not a great measure of social media success (this would need an article to back up but Facebook and Twitter will tell you this themselves)
    – it’s important to look at the sentiment of conversations
    – also the content of what is being discussed and who it is targeted at is an important consideration (for example the strategy of city of ct is to engage with ordinary citizens not necessarily social influencers)
    – worth mentioning that many (if not most) engagements on the city of cape town’s twitter are around solving individual issues with residents rather than chatting – the city allows individuals to log faults via facebook or twitter and get a response within 10 minutes during standard operation hours (8am – 7:30pm weekdays within a few hours over the weekend)

    If i had a criticism of this article is that it’s making a common mistake in social media in looking at data without explaining context. I’m pretty sure the social media team of city of joburg would agree. But hopefully this is the start of a conversation about how cities can be more useful using social media?

    • enitiate

      Thank you for your valuable input.


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