How many South Africans use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

The numbers for the latest SA Social Media Landscape Report for 2018 are in and it looks like 2017 has continued the trend of growth for all social media platforms in South Africa. 

Facebook remains the most popular platform in the country, with almost 30% of the population now connected. South Africa has about 16 million users of Facebook right now, 14 million of which access the site from mobile devices.

According to Stats SA, Gauteng province is the most populous province in South Africa with 14.3 million people living in there which accounts for 25.7 % of the country's population.  Could that explain why Johannesburg is the most Facebook active place in South Africa with five million users registered in the city? 

Interestingly, Stats SA puts the number of people living in Johannesburg at an estimated 4.4 million. The obvious question there then becomes does this mean every person living in JHB has a Facebook account? Not necessarily, Joburg also happens to be the most visited place in South Africa. More people come in and out of the city everyday than any other city in the country so many of the people who are active on Facebook in Johannesburg do not even live in the city. 

Twitter numbers might be in decline in the US and UK but in South Africa the micro-blogging site grew marginally between 2016 and 2017 from 7.7 million in August 2016 to 8 million by August 2017. 

If you asked me which day I thought was the most active on Twitter, I probably would say Sunday but according to the report, I would be wrong. The most popular day on Twitter is Thursday. I honestly do not know what happens on Thursdays to up the activity. 

Twitter users tweet the most in the morning, between 8am and 9am, with a small peak again in the evenings at around 6pm.

Professional social network LinkedIn continues to surprise researchers with its ‘quiet’ growth, the platform has increased its local numbers to 6.1 million users from 5.5 million in 2016.

Instagram has also seen significant growth, with its South African user numbers up 8.5% to 3.8 million users, however this is significantly slower than previous years, where local growth was in the double, or even triple digits.

No Method’s music video for “Let Me Go” is South Africa’s most popular YouTube video of the year (September 2016-August 2017).

The video was created and produced locally by musicians based in Cape Town and was posted on YouTube on 11 April,  by July it had received over 10 million views.

As of 18 September, the “Let Me Go” music video had been viewed nearly 29 million times – while the audio-only video received over 680,000 views.


As it has always been the case in South Africa, perception and reality are two worlds apart when it comes to our country's social media. What trends is not often what is really popular in the real world. The report continues to show that as a country we are unique that we give too much reverence to the least influential platform or personalities simply because that is a trend elsewhere in the world.  

In a world that is a true reflection of Social Media trends in South Africa, if we are going to use social media to gauge influence and star power, surely our stars would be from Facebook and not based on Twitter followers or Instagram fame but alas thats is not the case. 

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