Facebook inching out MXit in SA

A survey by Cape Town-based research company ikapadata, conducted in November with 715 participants aged 16-35 in townships in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, indicates that Facebook is becoming more popular than local social network MXit.

The results show that a greater proportion of respondents have an account with Facebook (55%) than with MXit (50%).

This is unexpected, ikapadata said, because until now MXit has been considered the social media tool of choice for young South Africans from low-income backgrounds.

Moreover, of those with both a Facebook and a MXit account, almost two thirds (64%) prefer Facebook and only one third (33%) prefers MXit. 3% prefer a third service.

According to ikapadata, 20% of respondents are registered Twitter users, 13% have a YouTube account, 8% have MySpace accounts, another 8% are in Google+, and 2% are registered with Linked in.

Almost one out of every five respondents (20%) said they aren’t part of any social network, ikapadata said.

To a good degree Facebook’s success is due to its popularity among more affluent township residents, ikapadata said.

Breaking down Facebook membership by class using the living standard measure (LSM) one can see a clear difference between the most affluent (LSM 8-10: 79%) and less affluent respondents (LSM 6-7: 62%; LSM 4-5: 46%). Among MXit users the pattern is less clear, ikapadata said; (LSM 8-10: 60%; LSM 6-7: 60%; LSM 4-5: 48%).

A respondent’s LSM is calculated by asking them questions such as whether they have a flush toilet, and own a TV, washing machine, fridge, and/or computer.

Sample information

To get a better idea of what ikapadata’s numbers represent, we asked them for a detailed breakdown of their sample.

According to the research company, 247 respondents were from the Johannesburg area, 247 from Durban, and 221 from Cape Town.

The majority of interviews (around 60%) in Johannesburg took place in Tembisa, but ikapadata said it also got respondents from Soweto, Alexandra and smaller places.

In Cape Town ikapdata said they have a good spread with the majority of respondents from Makhaza (Northern Khayelitsha), Nyanga and Masiphumelele, with smaller numbers of respondents from townships in-between (e.g. Gugulethu, other parts of Khayelitsha).

In Durban the spread was more dispersed with a large part of respondents from KwaMashu, Illovo Township, Isipingo and Umlazi.

The survey was slightly more male-dominated, with 57% of the responses coming from males and 43% from females.

The age distribution of respondents is shown in the graph below:

ikapadata Social networking and Internet usage survey age distribution - December 2011
ikapadata Social networking and Internet usage survey age distribution

Asked about who funded the survey, ikapadata said that they did the survey on their own account. They explained that they run these surveys constantly and put in their own questions from time to time so they can use the resulting data for their own marketing purposes.

“Sometimes there are just questions to which we would really like to know the results but we know that nobody would pay for that,” ikapadata said.

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Facebook inching out MXit in SA