Social media in South Africa – 2021

There have been some radical changes to the South African media landscape in the past two years. Predictably, these changes are linked to the lockdowns and subsequent need for more online usage and networking. As a recent study states: “The South African Social Media Landscape 2021 study, conducted after a full year of Covid-19 lockdowns, provides the most in-depth picture yet of the shifts in online behaviour brought about by the pandemic…” (

According to this study, there has been a “surge” in the use of social media in South Africa over the past year. This is evidenced in the more recent stats about social media usage.

There was an increase of 14 per cent or 3 million social media users in South Africa between 2020 and 2021: while the number of internet uses in South Africa increased by 4.5. per cent  ( 1.7 million ) during the same period. Furthermore, “ The number of social media users in South Africa was equivalent to 41.9% of the total population in January 2021”. []

These statistics clearly show an increase in social media usage in the country. According to, there were 25 million social media users in South African in January of this year,

What is clear from the data is that social media and social media usage in South Africa has risen dramatically over the past year.

Another very significant insight is the way that businesses use social media. Over “…90% of large businesses are currently active on Facebook, which also happens to be the most used social network by South African consumers over the last year.” (

The following statistics show the increasing investment of business in social media in the country,

  • Just under 50% of the brands surveyed are still spending under R10,000 per month … on social media advertising, but just over 20% are spending R50,000 (approx. $3,400).
  • Over three in four businesses reported seeing positive returns from social media usage, with only 1 in 20 reporting no returns from it.
  • 39.6% of brands said that they used paid social media influencers, up from 29.4% in last year’s survey.
  • Overall, there was 59% increase in respondents saying that social media is an effective public relations channel and 123% increase in respondents saying that it lowers the cost of communication.