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3D Illustration of South African social media statistics on a phone

South African Social Media Statistics 2023

Katherine McInnes

Jul 3, 2023

Social media continues to dominate the digital landscape, with an increase in both new users and more time per user spent on social media platforms. A significant contributor to this is the rise in popularity of short-form video content. From Instagram Reels to Instagram Stories, almost every platform has its own functionality for users to enjoy quick, easy-to-digest video content.

With the use of social media in South Africa up across the vast majority of demographics, it provides an excellent means for businesses to reach their audience. This is done by partnering valuable content with robust social media analytics tools.

It is crucial to understand the conversations happening on social media about your brand, industry and even competitors. Achieved with a social listening tool like the Meltwater social media monitoring platform, the insights you gain will inform both your business and marketing strategy.

Given the ever-changing nature of social media trends, it is essential to have insight into current, credible social media statistics reports. That's why we'll be diving into South African social media statistics:

Table of Contents

Tip: Watch our free webinar to learn more about social media trends in Africa.

General 2023 Social Media Statistics for South Africa

South African Essential Digital Headlines 2023
  • South African population in 2023: 60.14 million
  • Male South African population: 48.7%
  • Female South African population: 51.3%
  • Total number of internet users in South Africa: 43.48 million (72.3%)
  • Primary reason given for using the internet in South Africa: To find information (82.9%)

It is interesting to note that of the 43.48 million internet users in South Africa, those active on social media comprise some 25.8 million. This highlights the growth potential still available to social media platforms, and supports the expected trend of new users year-on-year.

Cellular mobile connections number 112.7 million, indicating that many South Africans are active on more than one device. Statistically, 97.6% of internet users in South Africa are accessing the internet via their mobile phones.

South African Population Statistics 2023

In terms of gender, the South African social media user numbers closely follow the population split. Female users make up 51.1% while male users account for 48.7%. The age of users is predominantly made up of individuals aged 18 - 24 (27%) and 25 - 34 (29.6%).

Internet Usage Statistics for South Africa

South African social media statistics of internet use
  • Average time spent online daily per user in South Africa: 9 hours, 38 minutes
  • Yearly increase in South African internet users: 357 000 (+0.8%)

There has been a decrease in the average time spent online per day per user, down by 1 hour and 7 minutes to 9 hours and 38 minutes. Of this time, 3 hours and 44 minutes is spent on social media platforms, making up 38.7% of the overall active time online.

The time that users spend on social media on average presents businesses with the opportunity to expand their online awareness and sales, using tools to measure performance, refine content, and optimise results.

Mobile's Share of Web Traffic in South Africa

South African mobile share of web traffic over time 2012-2022 internet usage statistics

With the vast majority of South Africans accessing the internet via mobile, businesses should look to create mobile-friendly social media advertising. Mobile browsing makes up 79% of all web browsing in South Africa, up 3.5% year-on-year.

Mobile Usage Statistics for South Africa

Let's take a look at the mobile usage in South Africa in 2023:

Mobile Connectivity in South Africa

South African mobile connectivity statistics 2023
  • Number of cellular mobile connections in South Africa: 112.7 Million
  • Number of cellular mobile connections compared with total South African population: 187.4%
  • Year-on-year change in the number of cellular mobile connections in South African: +3.7%
  • Share of cellular mobile connections that are broadband: 85.3%

Mobile connectivity provides a wide reach, with cellular connections outnumbering the South African population by 52.56 million.

For this reason, businesses that focus on a mobile-first approach to social media advertising, combined with the effective use of social media monitoring tools, have the potential to increase reach and gain market share.

Share of Mobile Web Traffic by Mobile OS in South Africa

South African share of mobile web traffic by mobile OS 2023
  • Share of mobile web traffic originating from Android devices in South Africa: 82.43%
  • Share of mobile web traffic originating from Apple iOS devices in South Africa: 17.21%
  • Share of mobile web traffic originating from Samsung devices in South Africa: 0.19%
  • Share of mobile web traffic originating from Kai OS devices in South Africa: 0%
  • Share of mobile web traffic originating from other OS devices in South Africa: 0.17%

Based on web traffic results, Android continues to maintain status as the preferred operating system among the South African population.

Apple iOS has increased by 10% from last year, making up 17.21% of the total web requests per operating system.

The Main Reasons South Africans Use Social Media

Main reasons for using social media in South Africa 2023
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family: 61.9%
  • Keeping up with news and current events: 46.5%
  • Seeing what people are talking about: 43.5%

Social media in South Africa has become both a part of people's routines and culture. It’s not uncommon to use social media as your primary way to update and stay updated with friends and family, and keep abreast of the latest news stories and articles.

Social Media Platform Usage Statistics for South Africa

Let's look at some more South African social media statistics:

The Most Used Social Media Platforms in South Africa

  1. WhatsApp: 93.3%
  2. Facebook: 87.2%
  3. Instagram: 70.5%
  4. TikTok: 69.9%
  5. FB Messenger: 63.3%
  6. Twitter: 60.3%
  7. LinkedIn: 47.6%
  8. Telegram: 44.1%
  9. Pinterest: 44.0%
  10. Snapchat: 36.1%
  11. Skype: 17.4%
  12. iMessage: 13.5%
  13. Reddit: 11.9%
  14. Badoo: 7.2%
  15. Discord: 7.2%
Most used social media platforms in South Africa 2023

Interestingly, WhatsApp is the most used social media channel in South Africa (this is in comparison to the global dominance of the traditional social media juggernaut, Facebook). Facebook does rank second, used by 87.2% of active internet users, with Instagram and TikTok seeing slightly lower usage numbers by comparison (70.5% and 69.9% respectively).

TikTok has seen the biggest year-on-year growth, with marketers able to reach an additional 5.4 million users (an increase of 83.6%). Far from just an entertainment app, TikTok and other social media platforms are also being used as search engines to find information and research products.

While there is user overlap between all social media platforms, each one can act as a marketing resource for businesses. Establishing, maintaining, and promoting a corporate social media presence enables brands to reach and engage with prospective consumers - and a multitude of touchpoints across different social media platforms will only serve to amplify this.

Favourite Social Media Platforms in South Africa

  1. WhatsApp: 33.6%
  2. Facebook: 18.6%
  3. TikTok: 17.5%
  4. Instagram: 10.3%
  5. Twitter: 9.3%
  6. Pinterest: 3.7%
  7. LinkedIn: 2.0%
  8. Telegram: 1.6%
  9. FB Messenger: 0.8%
  10. Reddit: 0.5%
Favourite social media platforms in South Africa 2023

WhatsApp, Facebook and TikTok top the list of platform favourites in South Africa. Interestingly, only 10.3% of users listed Instagram as their favourite social media platform, despite TikTok and Instagram performing almost identically in terms of platform usage.

FB Messenger is used by 63.3% of internet users, though only 0.8% of these users chose to list it as their favourite platform, showcasing the need for both fun and functional social media platforms.

An extensive survey of social media marketers (across a variety of industries and a range of company sizes) was conducted by HubSpot and Meltwater.

Based on the results, we can expect the following social media trends in South Africa and even globally 2023:

  • Higher dependency on audience engagement
  • Increase of in-platform sales
  • Higher expectations of customer service through social media
  • Even greater search optimisation
  • Increase in micro-influencers
  • Increase in short-form video
  • Increase in platform usage
  • Increase in business focus and ad spend
  • Greater need for brand relatability
  • Higher levels of personalised content
Infographic with the top 10 social media trends in EMEA 2023

Key Takeaways of South African Social Media Statistics

The increase in new social media users in South Africa (and an average daily use time of 3 hours and 44 minutes) highlight the power of social media as a marketing tool. With so much time being spent on social channels, and the wealth of user data this cultivates, organisations are continually looking to keep up with what their audience is saying.

This is corroborated by another key finding from our African State of Social survey – to stay up to date with this dynamic landscape, more and more businesses are turning to social listening. By the end of 2023, an estimated 47% of organisations will make use of a social listening program like the Meltwater social media monitoring platform.

When it comes to consumable content, short-form video is king (“short-form” refers to any video content under 1 minute).

For retail and eTail brands, in-platform selling and influencer endorsement will continue to increase, as users vet and review their purchases using social media as their trusted source.


If you want to promote your brand on social media or make use of social listening tools, contact Meltwater South Africa by filling out the form below. We work hand-in-hand with you to develop a plan that begins with strategy and defining objectives, and extends all the way to the metrics used to measure social media campaign success. Meltwater’s marketing suite can help you get better results.

Simply fill out the form below to get in contact with our team.