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Social media marketing in Africa

Africa and specifically sub-Saharan Africa is currently experiencing massive internet expansion with an internet growth rate of 2 500% recorded between 2000 and 2011. This immense increase in internet usage is mostly due to the growing numbers of mobile and smart phone users who are introduced to the web via their cell phones and because of this burst of connectivity more and more Africans enter the world of online, more join social networks and use them to connect to the world and people around them.
Social media marketing in Africa - Digital FireIn order to tap into this particular user network, companies and brands will need to understand how the habits and characteristics of this market will dictate what kind of social media strategies they utilise.

Social media rules the web in Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, social media is by far the most engaged with online activity. In fact, studies report that 58% of users from Africa prefer it to everything else on the web. Unsurprisingly, Facebook dominates the social media sphere with four out of five sub-Saharan African users using it to connect to each other, but with the rapid expansion of smart phones in full swing, it is likely that Twitter's popularity too will continue to flourish.

The popularity of social media in Africa is of course good news to marketers. Social networks provide a platform where brands can engage with people on a personal level, retain customers and of course reach out to potential ones. However, brands will have to think further than simply maintaining a presence on these networks - strategies and campaigns should be tailored to fit their African target market.

Social media goes mobile

The first thing to consider when planning custom social media campaigns for African users is how they are getting online. Four out of five internet users in sub-Saharan Africa access the internet via mobile phone and the number of people using the internet in this way is on the rise. This means that marketers should strongly consider optimising their social media campaigns for mobile in order to tap into this growing market.

A youthful social network

Africa as a whole is a youthful continent. According to the CIA factbook, two out of every five people in sub-Saharan Africa are under the age of fourteen. This statistic is also reflected in the world of social media. The youth make up the majority of the online population and are actively engaging in social media on a daily basis. Companies and brands will have to think about how the youth perceive their brand in the social sphere and what kind of interaction will be most engaging for the youth market.

One emerging aspect that will have to be considered by brands as part of a youth orientated social media strategy is gamification. With over 70% of all mobile downloads being games, businesses and brands have recognised that gaming is a significant facet of contemporary youth culture. Brands that are able to create social media 'games' based on incentives will be regarded as fun and engaging by the game-obsessed youth and will be rewarded with loyal followers and active fans. One of the best ways to incorporate gamification into a social media strategy is to integrate a game as part of a branded competition. Young people seek out challenges and enjoy competing with their friends, thus adding a viral element to these kinds of competitions.

The popularity of social media amongst the African youth now also provides businesses with other marketing opportunities in the form of location based marketing. Young people use social networks to check into places and locations, which has opened the door for companies to develop geo-targeted mobile campaigns.

Social media marketing and the future

Taking into account the rate at which internet penetration and mobile development is expanding, it is safe to say that Africa's internet and social media population will continue to proliferate. Social media marketing and digital marketing in general has become an absolute priority for many companies and with Africa rushing to join the online world, this is unlikely to change any time soon.

18 Apr 2012 13:56

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Posted on 18 Apr 2012 17:56

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