Africans are increasingly using Twitter to discover and access hip Western brands, forcing major corporations to sharpen their focus on the continent's middle-class hunger and grow their business there.
“It’s safe to say that the Twittersphere in Africa is becoming more sophisticated,” said Allan Kamau, the head of U.K. consulting Portland Communications Ltd.'s Nairobi office, in a press release announcing the results of How Africa Tweets, a study the firm published this week.
Samsung and Adidas are just a few of the major brands using Twitter to reach their African consumers, as the social media scene there explodes thanks to cheaper smartphones and creative user engagement, according to data released on Wednesday.
“We were very happy to see more brands and companies making use of Twitter in Africa,” said Kamau to Forbes.
The company's survey used geocoded Twitter data to gain insights about the growing social media scene.
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An earlier Portland study revealed at the time that most traffic was driven by social conversation, but the new study is “seeing brands like Samsung, Adidas and Magnum using the platform to reach consumers.”
The hashtags #SamsungLove #Adidas and #MagnumAuction were some of the most popular. Samsung South Africa’s Twitter (@SamsungSA) has more than 100,000 followers.
The firm's data also showed that most Tweeters were in cities. Johannesburg topped the list with an average of 344,215 tweets daily, followed by Cairo, Nairobi and Accra.
English is the most commonly tweeted language, followed by Arabic and French, but Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans and Xhosa were also in the top 10.
“Africa will follow the trend of more developed social media markets, where platforms like Twitter become established channels for serious discussions -- a place where governments and business leaders are able to engage naturally with consumers and citizens,” the report concluded.
Portland said smartphone availability is driving the influence of social media on the continent. “We’re on the cusp of a massive explosion of smartphones in Africa,” Kamau said.
Africa will top 300 million smartphone connections in 2017, according to projections in the Africa Telecoms Outlook published by Informa U.K.
“Smartphones and other data-capable devices are becoming increasingly affordable as a result of competition, technological developments and economies of scale in the device business, as well as the marketing efforts of operators and others,” reads the report.
“The arrival in the African market of low-cost smartphones, many of which are made by Chinese manufacturers and typically use the Android OS, is one of the key factors driving the increase in smartphone penetration on the continent.”