Does social media affect mobile marketing in South Africa?

There is so much to say here, but I will leave you with one of my most important observations. Social Media is the platform that companies can use to engage their mobile audience!

ALL social media websites are mobile ready and they present a product to our consumers that is so integral to their daily lives. A communication vehicle. Especially Facebook and MXIT who offer that communication with more people than any other network in South Africa.

Couple this thought with Authur Goldstucks research:

“The findings suggest, on the surface, that more than half of urban cellular users – 8.5-million – are capable of accessing e-mail on their phones, and as many as 60% – 9.5-million – are able to browse on their phones. The implications of these numbers are significant: in one fell swoop, they would turn the SA Internet user base from the 5.3-million reported by World Wide Worx at the end of 2009 to 9.6-million. Add Instant Messaging to the mix, and the total becomes 10.56-million – exactly double that of the Internet user base at the end of last year.”

Goldstuck also says ““The truth is, many people with these applications on their phones do no use them and do not even know how to use them,” says Goldstuck. “It is clear that the cellphone has the potential to take South Africans across the digital divide, but the phones themselves need to become more user-friendly, and a vast amount of consumer education is needed.”

With national mobile penetration well over 90% and the product offering (benefit) of social media, I believe that South African business will be able to speak to a larger audience in South Africa through social networks. Mobile websites seem like the obvious answer, but there is very little reason for a mobile user to visit your new mobi site. However, there is plenty of reason for them to join Facebook, or twitter or any other social network. We will then be able to engage this market through the social media platforms and “invite” them to our website.

Another interesting development is ( which offer free Facebook access to people over a mobile phone. This is not available in South Africa yet but should this technology be released in SA through a participating mobile carrier it has the potential to become the most used communication vehicle in South Africa.

Once again, in my personal experience, I have developed campaigns for brands that have been able to connect with young people who do not have computer access to Facebook. They are on pay-as-you-go cell-phone contracts and therefore prefer to communicate via Facebook. One particular campaign generated R 250 000, 00 worth of business after only six weeks of starting their Facebook Page. The business was closed directly over Facebook with very little traffic being driven to the website.

10 thoughts on “Does social media affect mobile marketing in South Africa?

  1. Ryan Calder

    Interesting stuff Mike. Goldstuck’s findings are also interesting – however the current numbers (2010) suggest that SA’s internet user base has nearly doubled (according to DMMA – 9.1 internet users and rapidly growing). Not only that, but the introduction of uncapped ADSL has changed browsing habits in SA, so a greater percentage of users are becoming more web-savvy. Mobile is the future, but there is a current market for a PC and Mac-based users, where the browsing experience is currently more rewarding than it is on mobile.

  2. Mike Saunders

    Hi Steve

    I think that right now, the Mobi market is still important and will be for sometime.

    Smart phones have great internet browsers but not all phones do so Mobi helps here.

    The other aspect to look at is the aim of the Mobi site. Your mobi site has the potential to display mobile specific content in such a way to make mobile browsing and call’s tyo action easier that actually browsing the internet on a PC.

    IE: There is still a BIG place for mobi as the market moves towards mobile browsing.

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  5. Meegan Rourke

    While I agree that mobile penetration in South Africa means that social media is a good platform for companies to engage their mobile audience, I think it would be restrictive to say this is the best approach in mobile marketing. There are a number of ways that companies can take advantage of the extensive capabilities of the mobile medium – such as people’s constant connectivity, engaging users in a two-way conversation, interactivity, and targeted customer relations. Mobile phones are always with us and have a higher response rate to the right marketing because of this.

    The new generation of smart phones means that there are opportunities for companies to produce applications which not only provide information and benefit to the user, but allow the company to engage more directly with their customers and target market, who have already indicated their interests when they downloaded specific applications. And there is definitely a gap in the market for South African specific applications for a variety of companies, such as supermarkets who offer online shopping, or restaurant recommendation sites and tourism or travel agencies.

    Companies can also ‘invite’ customers to their mobisites in a variety of ways, like Cosmopolitan magazine who sent out a series of SMSs featuring exciting gossip with strategically placed blank spaces, encouraging users to visit their mobisite with an SMS saying “At Cosmo, we won’t leave out the juicy details” and a link to their mobisite (their mobisite traffic increased 90%).

    Mobisites can also detect what phone model is accessing the site and adapt its specifications to accommodate what different phones can support – meaning that mobisites’ design and user-friendliness will likely attract more customers than traditional websites because people have more access to phones than computers.

    Mobile is a very personal medium, and if marketers target the right customers in the right way, it can offer huge rewards.

  6. Andrea Kraushaar

    Very interesting, and some good points raised!

    I would like to comment from a youth perspective. In SA, the most recent findings from the Youth Dynamix BratTrax research shows that two-thirds of SA teens have their own cell phone. This is even higher amongst upper income teens – where 8 in 10 have their own mobile phone.

    Regarding social media, and access via mobile phones, our research illustrates that two-thirds of 13-15 year olds are accessing MXit, while one-third are accessing facebook through their phones.

    As the figures above illustrate, and I do agree that connecting with young people through social networks is effective; however what is critical to remember is that the messaging and content needs to be relevant to them. When connecting with the youth, it is not just about using social media and social networking platforms; but more importantly about the relevance of the message and content to them as individuals, how it allows them to ‘belong’; how it allows them contribute and how it enables them both now and in the future.

    1. Mike Saunders

      Thanks Andrea

      It’s always a pleasure to have people add their expertise to these conversations.

      Your insight into the youth and their MXit and Facebook usage is spot on.

      Regarding content: it is of paramount importance that the content you display on these channels engages the younger market in a language and tone that they enjoy and are familiar with.

      Thanks again for your comments and keep them coming. I like the way you think!!


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