TikTok smashes Instagram and Twitter in South Africa

The Market Research Foundation’s MAPS data overview for 2021 to 2023 has found that WhatsApp is the most-used social media app in South Africa, followed by Facebook.

The data also shows that TikTok is far more popular in the country than Instagram or X (formerly Twitter).

The Market Research Foundation’s MAPS data comes from annual surveys of a sample of the South African population. It interviews women and men aged 15 and older from all races and provinces.

Social media penetration in South Africa has increased significantly over the reporting period, from 53% in 2021 to 73% in 2023.

According to the Market Research Foundation’s data, 13 million South Africans spend over 20 hours on social media each week.

Regarding popularity, WhatsApp takes the top spot with roughly 28 million active users, followed by Facebook with 25 million and TikTok with 11 million.

The market research firm also tracked the percentage of the South African population using WhatsApp, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Messenger, and X over the three years.

In 2021, WhatsApp and Facebook were on equal footing in terms of users, with roughly 44% of the population accessing both services.

However, WhatsApp’s share began to pull away from Facebook’s in 2022. Roughly 52% of the population used WhatsApp in 2022, compared to 48% who actively accessed Facebook.

It pulled away further in 2023 when approximately 66% of the population was using WhatsApp, while 58% was using Facebook.

Year-on-year shifts in the percentage of South Africa’s population using various social media platforms. From: Market Research Foundation.

TikTok was the third-most-used social media platform in the country in 2023, beating Instagram, Messenger, and X.

In 2021, approximately only 9% of the South African population used TikTok, at which point more people were using Instagram.

Its use was also only 1% higher than X (then Twitter). However, its use grew to 17% of the population in 2022, beating Instagram by 3% and X by 10%.

It should be noted that less of the population used X in 2022 than they did in 2021, with roughly 8% of South Africans using the platform in 2022 — down from 9% in 2021.

The percentage of the population using TikTok grew to 27% in 2023. The Market Research Foundation noted that roughly six million South Africans used TikTok as a search engine.

Meanwhile, roughly 16% of the population used Instagram, and only 8% used X in 2023.

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TikTok smashes Instagram and Twitter in South Africa