Social Media branding efforts has yet to be proven to be a complete waste of time in any part of the world and South Africa is not an exception!
One of the most insightful points I found in the reading was posted by Mario Olckers who stated that Social media scene in South Africa is too frail and disproportionate for companies to reasonably invest their time in.
Olckers reasoning for this theory is largely based on his assessment that due to the struggling economy, the average African is more concerned with obtaining and maintaining basic commodities like food, clothing and shelter NOT access to computers and internet. He further states that the mass majority of social media influencers in South Africa are comprised of “a small minority of predominantly white geeks and geekettes with an odd sprinkling of Coloured, Black and Indians…”—making social media strategy almost a pointless effort for companies to pursue.
While I do not disagree with the fact that there currently exists a small list of prominent bloggers in the South African Blogosphere, I do see the potential on the horizon and it is ignorant to underestimate the impact social media will have as South Africa moves into the future of bridging their digital divide—especially with the internet population in Africa expected to double from to over 9 million within the next five years.
I believe Social media can and will win BIG in South Africa and it is a shame that some people are too pessimistic about the current state of the country to believe it. I believe AND the projected data reflects that it would be a mistake to underestimate where the entire country of Africa is heading digitally. Many critics falsely believed Apartheid would never in South Africa… until 1994 when it indeed ENDED!
Companies looking to reach South Africans through Social Media marketing strategies would be wise to invest on the forefront of the digital movement because as it arrives THEIRS will be the products and brands most valued and interesting to the people of the country. Companies can start by investing in emergence of the “digital villages” as a branding strategy for their products.
By helping the citizens of South Africa obtain computer usage and internet access, companies can show good corporate/ social responsibility AS WELL as brand their products. Creating a Win-Win for all.