In today’s interconnected world, social media has become an integral part of our lives, transcending geographical boundaries. With its diverse cultures and expanding digital landscape, Africa is experiencing a significant shift in social media usage. Africa’s digital landscape has transformed rapidly, with social media becoming an integral part of daily life for millions of Africans.
To understand how people around Africa use social media, GeoPoll conducted a survey in four countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa – in August 2023 with a sample size of 4,170 participants. This report provides an in-depth analysis of social media usage in Africa, highlighting key trends, including:
- Most popular/leading social media platforms.
- Reasons for each social media platform usage
- Mobile Dominance and Usage Patterns
- E-Commerce and Advertising
- Mental health and social media
Internet Penetration and Social Media User Base
As of the latest data available in 2022, according to Statista, Africa’s social media users have risen continuously, amounting to over 384 million as of 2022. Social media penetration is considerably higher in Northern and Southern Africa than in other regions. As of February 2022, some 56 percent of the population in Northern Africa used social media, while the share was 45 percent in Southern Africa. Central Africa was significantly behind, with a share of only eight percent.
Leading Social Media Platforms
Facebook stands tall as Africa’s undisputed king of social media, with a staggering 170 million users. This platform’s ubiquity spans cultures and languages, making it a bridge for connecting people across diverse backgrounds.
From the survey, Facebook emerged as the leader in active user engagement, boasting 82% of participants actively using the platform. TikTok closely followed with a significant 60% active user rate, indicating its growing popularity. Instagram captured the attention of 54% of participants, highlighting its status as a preferred platform for visual content sharing. Twitter secured an active user percentage of 49%, while LinkedIn demonstrated its professional networking strength with 28% engagement. Snapchat maintained a respectable 25% active user base.
Meanwhile, platforms like Pinterest, Threads, and Reddit experienced slightly lower active users, with 18%, 10% and 6% respectively.
Mobile Dominance and Usage Patterns
In Africa, mobile devices are the primary gateway to social media. With smartphones becoming increasingly accessible, most people in our study said they spend an average of 3 to 6 hours daily on social platforms. This time is dedicated to communication, content consumption, and entertainment.
Moreover, social media is a dynamic information-sharing platform, with users frequently turning to it for communication, entertainment, news and updates, for instance:
From our study, Facebook emerged as the leader in active user engagement, boasting 82% of participants actively using the platform. 79% of the participants attributed to using Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, 68% use the platform for discovering news and current events on the other hand 49% use Facebook to make new friends. See the chart below for more details
TikTok is the second most used social media platform with a significant 60% active user rate, indicating its growing popularity.
The survey revealed that TikTok is a versatile platform, with a significant 73% of respondents using it primarily for watching and sharing short-form videos. Moreover, 72% of users turn to TikTok for entertainment and humor, finding it a source of endless amusement. Impressively, 61% also rely on TikTok to acquire new skills and discover ingenious life hacks, showcasing the platform’s educational and informative potential.
Instagram captured the attention of an impressive 54% of the surveyed participants, solidifying its reputation as the go-to platform for visual content sharing. Remarkably, 62% of users on this platform leverage it to explore creative content and remain abreast of emerging trends. An additional 61% predominantly utilize Instagram to follow influencers and celebrities, while 59% actively engage by sharing their own photos and preserving visual memories.
Twitter secured the fourth position in the survey, with 49% of respondents actively using the platform. Within this group, a significant 78% primarily use Twitter to follow news sources and journalists. Furthermore, 59% use the platform to connect with like-minded individuals and participate in thought-provoking discussions and debates. Additionally, 55% of users engage on Twitter by sharing updates and personal thoughts.
LinkedIn showcased its prowess as a professional networking platform, boasting a 28% active user rate. Impressively, within this segment, 87% of users turn to LinkedIn as a powerful tool for job hunting and career advancement. Additionally, a substantial 83% utilize the platform to forge connections with fellow professionals. Furthermore, 69% of users leverage LinkedIn as a means to establish and strengthen their professional online presence.
Snapchat maintained a respectable 25% active user base. 68% of the users share quick moments of their day 63% send ephemeral photos and videos to friends, and 56% explore the platforms filters and features.
Pinterest garnered an 18% active user base, and within this user segment, a remarkable 81% primarily employ the platform to unearth and organize a wealth of creative ideas. Furthermore, 71% of users gravitate towards Pinterest to delve into DIY projects and crafts, as well as to discover inspiration for fashion and style.
Meta’s new social media platform has garnered a 10% active user base. Notably, similar to Twitter, 73% of these active users primarily use the platform to follow news sources and journalists. Additionally, 69% of users utilize the platform for sharing short updates and personal thoughts, while an engaging 64% actively participate in discussions and debates.
Reddit, in this survey, has a modest 6% of active users. However, among these users, a significant 75% actively discuss specific interests or hobbies, on the other hand, 73% participate in niche communities(subreddits). Moreover, 68% of Reddit’s active users are dedicated to sharing and consuming in-depth, informative content
These statistics offer valuable insights into the dynamic landscape of social media platform preferences and usage patterns among African surveyed individuals.
Social media usage in Africa is experiencing rapid growth, driven by mobile accessibility and a youthful population. The dominance of platforms like Facebook reflects their role as communication tools, news sources, and entertainment hubs.
E-Commerce and Advertising
Social media’s influence extends beyond personal connections. It has emerged as a vibrant e-commerce and advertising space. Businesses leverage these platforms for marketing, tapping into the massive user base for brand exposure and customer engagement. The rise of influencer marketing, powered by local content creators, has further transformed the advertising landscape. 80% of our respondents agreed to have purchased a product/service advertised on social media.
Mental health and social media
The relationship between social media usage and mental health is crucial and continues to be a subject of research and debate.
Through our survey findings, a significant 61% of respondents expressed that social media had a notably positive impact on their mental well-being. An additional 23% found the impact somewhat positive. For 16%, their experiences fell into a neutral zone. However, 2% reported a somewhat negative effect, and 1% indicated a very negative impact.
Dive deeper into the data on this dashboard:
Methodology/About this Survey
This Exclusive Survey was run via the GeoPoll mobile application between 12th and 20th of August 2023 in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The sample size was 4,170, composed of random App users between ages 18 and 60. Since the survey was randomly distributed, the results are slightly skewed towards younger respondents.
To get more details about exclusive GeoPoll surveys or to conduct a scientific study social media usage, or other topics in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, please contact us.