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The phenomenon of social media seems to grow exponentially day by day, with an ever growing offering for its users. Social media has created a platform where people can easily create and share content amongst their peers, creating a community of avid web users sharing information about themselves and their interests. Business has seen this as a great way to get in touch with their customers and to market their brands. However, it is vitally important for business to understand that social media is by no means a traditional channel for marketing, where one can simply publish and distribute content.

The key aspect behind social media is the ability to share which implies interaction, whereas publishing or distribution implies a one-way channel rendering various marketing tactics ineffective. For example a home ware store can’t post its specials for the month on glassware as users will not see great value in this, but if the same store posted an article on “How to redecorate your bathroom for less than R2000” it prompts them to want to share the content with others, thereby gaining the store exposure.

Given this information it is vital for business to have a very clear understanding of who is using social media and for what purpose in order to better convey the content they want to share with their consumers. It is for this very reason that Student Village, one of South Africa’s top youth marketing agencies and Interact RDT a brand experience and research consultancy have put together a report on the use of social media by the youth. The reason why the report focuses on students is because they are by far the biggest users of social media and the internet. The average internet penetration for all South Africans is only 9.4% in comparison to that of students with an internet penetration of 99%.

The report itself was conducted in November 2009 across the majority of the SA student population and our objective was to understand the how, why and when of their social media use.

–       How often students go online?

–       Are they using PC or mobile to gain access?

–       What kind of online activities do they partake in?

–       What social media sites do they use?

–       What brands stand out and why?

 These were just some of the questions that we asked and it turns out that social media has become such an integral part of student life that traditional mediums such as TV, radio and print are being engaged with less and less. This is due to social media’s ability to give students access to information and their interests off one platform which they are in control of.

In terms of internet access, 78% of SA students use their cell phones as way to connect, in comparison to that of the world average only being 17% of users using cell phones to access the internet. It then becomes clear that as much as South Africa is lacking in internet access there are people who will always find a way to connect. This is also partly due to South Africa having some of the world’s cheapest data costs with 3G being faster and cheaper than ADSL making our cell phone internet usage 5 times higher than the world average. Students will access the internet for 67 minutes a day on their cell phones and 96 minutes a day from computers, typically accessed on campus. Most of this time is spent on social networking sites with 79% visiting sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Mxit. A further 70% also visit YouTube, 63% Wikipedia, 59% Music sites and 40% on blogs. Some of the biggest brands that stand out for students are Nike, Converse, Smirnoff and Coca Cola, this is because these brands provide students with special applications or unique content that is fun for them to share and engage with on social networking sites, leading to their popularity.

We now begin to see how and why students are engaging with social media and have provided you with just a small snapshot of their usage. The true value lies in the full report which contains facts, figures and insights which provide a crucial understanding of SA’s students.

Click Here to access a sample report or speak to one of our consultants on 011 268 4600 to find out more.

 

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