Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionising the way we connect, communicate, and consume information. In South Africa, social media platforms have gained immense popularity, with a significant portion of the population actively engaging with these online platforms. In this blog post, we will explore the statistics and trends surrounding the use of social media in South Africa.

The Use of Social Media in South Africa

To understand the prevalence and impact of social media in South Africa, it is essential to analyse the data and statistics available. Let’s dive into some key findings:

Total Number of Active Social Media Users

According to DataReportal and We Are Social, the number of active social media users in South Africa has steadily increased over the years, reaching 28 million as of January 2022.

total active social media users

Sources: DataReportal; We Are Social 

Annual Percentage Change in Social Media Users

The growth rate of social media usage in South Africa is also a significant indication of its popularity and impact. 

annual percentage change of social media users

Sources: DataReportal; Hootsuite; Various sources; We Are Social 

Demographics of Social Media Users

Understanding the demographics of social media users is crucial in order to tailor content and marketing strategies effectively. Here are some key insights from DataReportal, Hootsuite and We Are Social regarding the age and gender distribution of social media users in South Africa:

Age Group Distribution of Social Media Users

 Social media usage patterns vary across different age groups and genders, influencing preferences and behaviours. The graph below showcases the distribution of social media users in South Africa as of January 2023, categorised by age group.

genders on social media

Main Types of Social Media Accounts Followed

Determining the main types of social media accounts followed by internet users in South Africa provides valuable insights into their interests and preferences. Here is an overview from DataReportal, Hootsuite and We Are Social of the main types of accounts followed:

Types of Social Media Accounts Followed

The graph below illustrates the main types of social media accounts followed by internet users in South Africa as of the third quarter of 2022. This data sheds light on the content and topics that resonate with social media users in the country.

types of accounts followed on social media

Approximately 60% of social media users in South Africa follow friends, family, and people they know, while around 35% follow bands, singers, and musicians.

Social Media Trends and Insights

Beyond the numbers, it is crucial to understand the trends and behaviours observed among social media users in South Africa. Here are some key findings from YouGov:

Engagement with Advertisements

51% of the population is more likely to engage with advertisements on social media than on regular websites. This highlights the power of targeted advertising on these platforms, capturing the attention of users effectively.

Content Creation and Sharing

South Africans have embraced social media as a means to create and share content. According to YouGov, over half of the national population, 51%, actively seeks experiences that will make for great content on social media. This trend reflects the desire to share memorable moments with the online community.

Comparison and Influence

Social media plays a role in how individuals perceive themselves and seek inspiration. 36% of South Africans compare themselves to fitness influences on social media, indicating the impact of these platforms on personal aspirations and self-image.

Preference for Online Interaction

In a digital era, it comes as no surprise that social media has influenced the way people interact. 56% of the population often prefers to interact with others on social media rather than in person. This shift in preference indicates the growing importance of online communication channels.

Concerns About Time Spent

While social media offers numerous benefits, South Africans have expressed concerns about their time spent on these platforms. A significant 66% of users worry about the amount of time they dedicate to social media, highlighting the need for a healthy balance between online and offline activities.

Changing Interpersonal Interaction

The influence of social media has not gone unnoticed, as 72% of South Africans perceive that it is changing the way we interact with each other for the worse. These findings suggest a growing concern about the potential negative impact of excessive reliance on online platforms for communication.

Impact on Life

Despite some reservations, a majority of the population acknowledges the positive impact of social media. 54% of South Africans state that social media has changed their lives for the better, emphasising the beneficial aspects of connectivity and access to information.

Self-Presentation and Entertainment

South Africans are conscious of their online presence, with 73% caring about how they present themselves on social media. Moreover, entertainment and news content serve as the primary motivations for social media usage, with 71% of users utilising these platforms for such purposes.

Artistic and Gaming Interests

Social media is not only a communication tool but also a means of artistic expression and entertainment. 59% of South Africans are eager to see video updates from their favourite artists on social media, while 50% enjoy playing games on these platforms, showcasing the diverse interests of users.

Information and Connection

Lastly, social media fulfils the role of information dissemination and connection. A significant 72% of South Africans use social media both to keep up with people and to find and share information about topics that matter to them, highlighting the platforms’ utility beyond interpersonal communication.


Social media has become an integral part of South African society, shaping communication patterns, influencing behaviour, and offering a platform for self-expression. The statistics and trends discussed in this blog post demonstrate the pervasive nature of social media in the lives of South Africans. As the number of active social media users continues to grow, it is essential to understand and adapt to the evolving landscape of social media in South Africa.

By analysing these findings, we gain valuable market insights into the preferences, concerns, and behaviours of South African social media users, enabling us to better understand the impact of these platforms and tailor our approach to meet the ever-changing needs of this dynamic audience.