Massive WeChat growth in South Africa

… but can it hold onto its new users?

By - January 27, 2015 Share on LinkedIn
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Mobile messaging service and social platform WeChat has seen tremendous growth in South Africa during 2014 according to the latest estimates from World Wide Worx.

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck couldn’t say exactly what the growth was until they had completed their annual research into the mobile habits of South Africans, but current estimates suggest that WeChat grew its subscriber base by over 4 million.

This represents growth of around 400%, up from over 1 million users towards the end of 2013.

“Bear in mind that it has had heavy TV advertising, which is how WhatsApp got its first growth boost on the back of Nokia campaigns against BBM,” Goldstuck said.

He went on to caution that WeChat’s real challenge was not just signing on new members, but keeping them active.

Information from within South Africa’s communications technology sector suggests that the number of active users on WeChat is actually far lower than 5 million, but confirms that its active user base has likely grown larger than Mxit.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests [WeChat] has massive sign-on rates but not equally massive active levels,” Goldstuck said.

On the other hand, the success of M4JAM (Money for Jam) shows that there is a strong core user base of its ancillary services, he added.

“Ultimately, it is the most broad-based of the social platforms from a value-added services perspective,” Goldstuck concluded.

This new estimate is shown along with World Wide Worx’s earlier stats from September 2014 in the table below. A figure for WhatsApp is also included to give an idea of where it fits in, but it should be noted that the statistic is a few months older than the rest.

Social Platform Millions of SA users
Facebook 11.8
WhatsApp (Feb 2014) 10.6
YouTube 7.2
Twitter 6.6
WeChat Estimate: 5m
Mxit 4.9
LinkedIn 3.8
Instagram 1.1
Pinterest 0.84

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