Which social media platforms in South Africa are the best for marketing?

With so many social media options, how do you know the right social media platforms for your brand? According to Datareportal, the top three social media platforms in South Africa are Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn (based on eligible users as a percentage of the population).

A pie chart showing the top seven social media platforms in South Africa.

Globally, the picture looks different. The top three social media platforms are WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook (based on eligible users as a percentage of global internet users). The most downloaded social media apps are TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. And eligible internet users spend the most time on YouTube, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp are the world’s most used social media platforms.

Social media strategy is a science.

Choosing suitable social media channels for your business is more than merely looking at the platform’s popularity – it is a science – it is data science.

The first step to determining the most suitable platforms is knowing whether you are targeting a global or local audience. Using global data for a local audience could give your business less favourable results.

The second step is knowing your data sources. I highly recommend Dataportal‘s free reports and Ornico’s Social Media Landscape report.

Getting a professional social media strategist to analyse the data for your business’s specific needs is the third step in choosing the best social media platforms in South Africa. This step is where many small-business owners get it wrong. They think they save money by doing it themselves, but in the long run, they could lose money through wasted spend on improper channels.

Beware the wanna-be social media strategist.

I am writing this section specifically for small-business owners. Many service providers claim they ‘do social media’ – school leavers, stay-at-home moms, the unemployed, and pensioners.

But how do you know the difference between a professional and a wanna-be? It is simple – compare their fees. The wanna-be promises your business countless amazing things for less than R1,000 per month. In contrast, the professional asks more questions about your business and boasts less about all the fantastic things social media can do for you. And their fees are often more than R5,000 per month.

How do you determine a budget for your business’s social media marketing?

Let’s use an example of a new small business that sells macadamia nuts. The guideline price for superior whole macadamia nuts is roughly R240 per kilogram. Suppose the owner purchases the nuts directly from the farmer at the given price before adding a 30% markup; the retail price would be R312 per kilogram.

Imagine the business aims to sell 200 kilograms of macadamia nuts each month; the annual budgeted revenue for the first year is R748,800. Experts recommend that a new company allocates 12 to 20 per cent of its gross income to marketing spend. Established companies (five years and older) should assign six to 12 per cent.

According to the experts, the owner of the macadamia nut business must distribute R149,760 per annum (or R12,480 per month) for marketing expenses. Industry experts do not always agree, but one should allocate roughly 60% of the marketing budget to digital marketing. In this example, it is R89,856 per annum (or R7,488 per month). Of the digital budget, roughly 50% must be for social media.

Remember that your appointed social media strategist or manager gets paid from the payroll, not the marketing budget. Roughly 15 to 30 per cent of the company’s annual gross revenue forms the payroll budget, from which the owner pays themselves and their staff or contractors.

Ready, set, go!

So, you researched the most suitable social media platforms in South Africa, determined your budget, and appointed a social media strategist or manager. What next?

You will discuss promotions, competitions, and campaigns with your social media expert. Tell your social media manager if you haven’t reached 50% of your sales target by mid-month. They can adjust the month’s content and audience targeting to help your business reach its goals.

Any Tom, Dick, and Harry can spam Facebook Communities with your business’s advertisements, but it takes an expert to make social media ‘work’ for your business.