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Facebook dominates African social media landscape despite TikTok’s surge

By Elizabeth Ngigi September 18th, 2023 3 min read

Despite the growing popularity of TikTok, Meta’s Facebook continues to reign supreme as the most widely used social media platform in Africa, according to a recent Social Media Usage report by GeoPoll.

The report sheds light on the evolving landscape of social media in Africa and highlights the preferences and behaviors of its diverse user base.*

The report reveals that the number of social media users in Africa has steadily increased, with the total now surpassing 384 million.

Notably, Facebook maintains its dominant position with a staggering 170 million active users, accounting for approximately 44% of Africa’s social media enthusiasts.

Also read: EXCLUSIVE: TikTok addresses copyright issues, reveals plans to monetize in Kenya

In terms of user engagement, Facebook boasts an impressive 82% active use rate, showcasing its continued relevance and appeal to African users.

TikTok, while gaining ground rapidly, stands as the second most engaging platform with a 60% active user rate, indicating its surging popularity among African youth.

Instagram follows closely with a 54% user engagement rate, while Twitter and LinkedIn hold respective active user percentages of 49% and 28%.

Snapchat maintains a small yet significant presence with a user rate of 25%, while Pinterest, Threads, and Reddit trail behind with user rates of 18%, 10%, and 6%, respectively.

Unique Purposes for Each Platform

The GeoPoll report further delves into the differentiated purposes that drive African users to each social media platform. Communication, entertainment, news, and updates were identified as key drivers of social media usage on the continent.

Also read: No, TikTok isn’t pushing an LGBTQ agenda in Kenya – TikTok Boss

For instance, 68% of surveyed users turn to social media platforms to discover news and stay updated on current events.

In contrast, Facebook serves as a platform for socializing, with 49% of users using it to make new friends and engage in social interactions.

TikTok has carved a niche as an entertainment and learning platform. An impressive 73% of respondents use TikTok primarily for watching and sharing short-form videos, while 72% view it as a source of entertainment.

Remarkably, 61% of users turn to TikTok as a learning platform to acquire new skills, underscoring its educational value despite concerns about sexualized content.

Instagram stands out as a trend-following platform, with 61% of users using it to keep up with the latest trends and follow influencers and celebrities.

Additionally, 59% of users utilize Instagram as a visual memory vault, uploading photos and moments that matter to them.

Unsurprisingly, Twitter emerged as the go-to platform for staying updated on news and current affairs, with 78% of respondents citing it as their primary use.

Additionally, 59% use Twitter to connect with like-minded individuals and engage in thought-provoking discussions and debates.

Also read: TikTok trend: Kenyans condemn colourism, share traumatic experiences of dark-skinned women

LinkedIn remains firmly rooted in its professional niche, with 87% of active users turning to the platform for job hunting and career advancement.

Impact of Social Media in Africa

The GeoPoll survey also examined the impact of social media on African users. An overwhelming 80% of respondents admitted to purchasing a product or service advertised on social media, highlighting the pivotal role that social media plays in e-commerce and advertising in Africa.

Due to the ease of access provided by mobile phones, Africans spend an average of 3 to 6 hours per day on social media platforms. Interestingly, 61% of those surveyed reported that social media has positively impacted their mental health.

GeoPoll conducted this insightful survey in four African countries—Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa—in August 2023, gathering data from 4,170 participants.

The report provides valuable insights into Africa’s evolving social media landscape and its multifaceted influence on the continent’s diverse population.

Also read: How TikTok has influenced music, dance and youth culture