Social Media Tendencies Around The World: South Africa and World Cup Fever

By Katy Mendelsohn & Mary B. AdamsToday’s blog post takes us to the African continent where we spotlight South Africa’s s social media scene and what impact the World Cup has had on it.

South Africa, like the rest of Africa, is lagging behind the rest of the world on broadband Internet. The broadband penetration was only 2.67% in 2008, quite low compared to 2007 stats for the US - 21.9%, France - 22.3%, and Taiwan - 19.6%. Part of this is due to lack of infrastructure and telephone land lines. On the other hand, mobile penetration in Africa is higher than any other region in the world.

Despite unfavorable broadband conditions, South Africa is among the top 10 most progressive counties in the world undergoing a connectivity revolution that is changing the whole of Africa. As a result South Africans are consuming social media ferociously. In a recent study by Sysomos, a Canadian research company, South Africa earned the number 10 spot in the world’s top Twitter countries, surpassing China, Japan and the Philippines, with over 467,500 monthly visits.

Facebook is also an important platform in South Africa. According to Facebakers, South Africa has almost 2.9 million Facebook users, the second highest number of users amongst African countries (after Egypt) representing a 15% share of the total Facebook population on the continent. The penetration rate of the total online population is 62.83 %.

South Africa is the first African nation to host the world’s biggest sporting event. This is the first World Cup to occur during the age of social media, and some bloggers are calling it the biggest thing to ever hit social media. Sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have brought together soccer fans across the globe to celebrate and debate referee decisions online. FIFA capitalized on the success and recently launched its own social-networking service called “The Club,” which has already exceeded 1.6 millions members. Google has rolled out Street View launch and 3D Stadiums in South Africa, the Street Soccer Tour on YouTube, a global Doodle for Google competition, among other “exciting football related initiatives.”

With World Cup social media mania heating up, South Africa is able to globally showcase what the country has to offer like never before. The piercing buzz of vuvuzelas, those ubiquitous horn-like instruments you might have noticed at World Cup matches, has revolutionized one of the largest social media epidemics the world has ever seen. Global Voices, an international community of bloggers, recently compiled a list of social media links devoted to everything vuvuzela – and it’s a very long list! So even if you can’t be a part of the World Cup in person, you can still soak up the atmosphere and experience this historic event vicariously through social media.