According to a report released by the BMI-Techknowledge Group, a business-to-business commercial and industrial research group focusing on the high-tech industry, social networking in South Africa is set to increase by a factor of three over the next four years.
The report examines online activity in South Africa, and forecasts potential changes in how and why South African consumers use the internet. In the report, BMI-T predicts that the top online activities in terms of projected growth will be in online dating and gambling, as well as watching TV, and participating in social networking through sites like Facebook and MySpace, and sharing personal content online via blogs and photosharing sites or applications.
In terms of total number of users by 2013, BMI-T expects that online searches, accessing e-mail, sharing personal content, reading news or articles and watching short video clips will be the highest performing online activities.
Trends Impacting Online Activity
* The growth of netbooks and increase in mobile networking.
* Online advertising is expected to show strong growth, as more companies reallocate parts of their budget to cater for increased online usage.
* Blogging is expected to continue increasing.
* Online video is expected to continue impacting the market, despite current SA limitations due to caps.
* Increased cloud computing, and inter-connected online social services will increasingly impact the market.
* Location based services will increase, as privacy concerns are addressed.
* Increased consumer access to information will see a growth in consumer influence, and may elevate them to the status of collaborative partners, rather than traditional consumers.
* Increased consumer expectations regarding online service will affect the market.
* High quality content will remain an ever increasing requirement, as consumers become more discerning about what they do, and where they go, online.
* Converging communications platforms are expected to have significant impact, with the launch of products like Google Wave.
* Social networking sites, notably Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Digg are increasing in popularity, especially as more interconnection becomes common.
Social Networking Shows Year On Year Growth
The increasing trend of social networking growth has been apparent on the internet for the last 3 years. BMI-T forecasts that this trend will continue to show rapid growth in the future, as internet penetration increases in line with predicted reduced costs, and social network users increase due to its huge popularity.
Currently, some 1.3 million South African users are involved in some kind of social networking, and it’s expected that this number will pass 4.5 million by 2013.
BMI-T’s research showed social networking is currently more popular among both younger consumers, and higher income consumers. However, they predict that this will gradually change as social networking popularity increases, and internet access becomes more available for lower income groups.