Isibaya is a South African show produced by Multichoice/ DSTV, intended to last only a year as a telenovela. But it garnered so much support from viewers that it was extended into a full soap opera. (Photo/ Facebook/ Isibaya Mzansi Magic)

Africa on Twitter: Top Trends in South Africa, Jan – Jun 2016. Radio, TV And Parties Top

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SOUTH Africa is one of the continent’s most active countries on Twitter. The platform drives conversations, activism and even a shared pan-African outlook, particularly among younger and better-educated users.

It’s part of a bigger trend, that will intensify in the future: Africa’s mobile data traffic is forecast to see a twenty-fold increase from 2013 to 2019, around twice the global growth rate.

In collaboration with data analytics firm Odipo Dev, we mined all the trends that have trended in South Africa, over the first six months of 2016, to better gain an insight into the country’s digital atmosphere.

On South African Twitter, the top 10 trends are shared almost equally between radio shows and television shows. This is in line with the similar trends gleaned from Kenya and Nigeria, where broadcast media has found a new expression on Twitter.

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It suggests that among Twitter users, the age of the second screen has arrived, as audiences gain control and agency over their media consumption habits.

While passively watching or engaging with content on one device (for example a TV set), they are simultaneously using a second one (most commonly a mobile phone) to actively continue the conversation.

Among the South African top ten trends is #SNLAtHarlem, which is a hashtag for a party that occurs almost every Sunday and is seemingly associated with many local celebrities. The hashtag, as a result, trends from Wednesdays (mostly advert posters for the party) until Sundays, with the weekend postings being mostly pictures and tweets from those at the party itself.

This distinguishes South African Twitter from Kenya and Nigeria, in that there is a ‘real-life’ event that consistently makes it into the top ten trends over the first six months of the year. It suggests that ‘celebrity culture’ in South Africa is more centralised than in Kenya and Nigeria.

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