The State of Social Media Report 2023 is a new report released by global media monitoring company Meltwater that delves into social media trends around world.

Focusing on Africa, in comparison with the rest of the world, the Report shows that Africa is aligned with the rest of the world when it comes to the use of the top five most popular social media channels, globally: namely Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

 The report mentions that “Five channels dominated the social landscape globally. Facebook (89%), LinkedIn (87%) and Instagram (84%) are top, with Youtube (64%) and Twitter (61%) close behind. In terms of growth, the use of TikTok is rapidly increasing and projected to increase rapidly from the 30% that use it now.”

The State of Social Media Report also notes that brand-awareness (81%) and brand engagement (55%) are still the top two objectives for marketers across industries aim to achieve through social media followed by acquiring new customers (52%) and increasing web traffic (40%).

Social media has become a powerful tool in the African continent as digital societies uses it to connect with each other, to engage brands by giving immediate feedback, voicing opinions, writing threads and video dialogues educating people and brands by tagging them along with relevant representatives of companies and organisations.

 The inclusiveness of the top five media channel – Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok – has elevated small and medium businesses on the continent by allowing them to promote their products and services and reach a wider market with budgets they can afford, something that was previously only accessible by big businesses and a few privileged members of society through the use of traditional media such as radio, TV and print.

 However, African communicators and marketing professionals are still facing some challenges, primarily reach – not being able to have full access to the market inhibits them from knowing and understanding the market they wish to penetrate and have successful operations in.

 Hence why outside of tangible measures like follower growth and engagement mentioned in the Report, many businesses in the continent are still struggling to come up with ideas for social media content (32%), leading to proving the value of social media (30%).

 This is a result of inequality, lack of resources, limited infrastructure, limited access to the Internet, information and opportunities.

 Further, with so much competition for attention across social channels, marketers also struggle to understand what their audience is truly is interested in – ‘understanding my audience’ was noted as a challenge by 27% of the respondents.

 This gap prevents these communities from participating in social media-led conversations that affect them, which also means that the current state of social media is not a true reflection of the African market, but, it shows progression.

 Therefore, before a social media strategy is implemented, marketers need to do extensive research with the intention of knowing and understanding their market. It is only then they will be able to determine the best methods to use in order to achieve their marketing and business goals, objectives and, the best channels to use to connect with their audiences.

 Moreover, as social media continues to grow at a phenomenal pace in Africa, companies need to consider the continent’s unique challenges and select channels that will work best for their objectives.

Therefore, for social media brand strategies to be effective in Africa, marketers must not rely only on digital society’s feedback but to also apply traditional methods of market research; hosting focus groups, customer observations, interviews and surveys.

“All of these parameters could also be tied to creating more brand awareness, as we identified a positive correlation between all of the factors mentioned and the cultivation of brand knowledge. Establishing a thought leader position was also mentioned frequently by B2B organizations and NGOs, which can be linked to the intrinsic values the B2B organization or NGO represents.”