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Social Media 'breaking barriers' in South Africa

05 October 2012

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Social networking in South Africa has crossed the age barrier, the urban-rural divide, and even the relationship gap, according to a new research.

The research was carried out by technology market researchers World Wide Worx and information analysts Fuseware.

The South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study, released last month by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, shows that the fastest growing age group among Facebook users in South Africa is the over-60s.

'Reflection of Facebook going mainstream'

From August 2011 to August 2012, the number of over-60s on Facebook in South Africa grew by 44%, compared to less than 30% for those aged 30-60, less than 20% for those aged 19-30, and less than 10% for teenagers, the study found.

"This is a reflection of Facebook going mainstream in South Africa," World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck said in a statement. "The younger segments are still far from saturation, but we're not seeing the same heady pace of growth among the youth as before."

Crossing the urban-rural divide

Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the South African urban-rural divide, according to the study. The proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than double rural users - but rural users are now at the level where urban users were 18 months ago.

Twitter's urban penetration is a little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural proportion has also caught up to where the urban proportion was 18 months ago.

Facebook, Twitter numbers

At the end of August, 5.33-million South Africans were using Facebook on the Web, 2.43-million were on Twitter and 9.35-million on Mxit.

However, because Facebook does not measure mobile-only usage among those who have registered via their cellphones, the full extent of its penetration is significantly understated: primary research by World Wide Worx shows that 6.8-million South Africans access Facebook on their phones.

South African Twitter use measured in the study indicates that its user base had grown to 2.2-million by the end of June, or 100000 new users a month since August last year.

Fuseware data, collected directly from Twitter through an API (application programme interface), shows that the number reached 2.4-million at the end of August, exactly matching the growth rate measured by World Wide Worx, and validating the earlier data.

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