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Twitter for small business in SA

– By Duncan Edwards –

Twitter has launched an advertising platform targeted at South African small businesses so they can take advantage of the globally popular social network. The US-based company launched the service to help small businesses extend their reach into social media.

“Businesses have been on Twitter since day one. The savvy ones understand that customers today want to have an ongoing conversation with brands and they proactively engage in these conversations, rather than try to avoid them,” Barry Collins, Twitter director of SMB EMEA told News24.

The advertising platform is designed to allow small businesses similar reach on the social network as big brands, but at a more cost-effective rate.

Twitter says that a Market Probe International survey found that 86% of people will likely visit a business if a friend will recognise them.

Engagement level

The survey also found that promoted tweets are effective for 32% of people and 34% will interact with a business if they see an ad on Twitter.

Though the survey was only conducted among 500 people in the US and UK, Twitter interaction remains valid form of communication.

However, social networks can intimidate companies large and small because people “own” the medium and determine the level of interaction.

The recent South African elections demonstrated that a Twitter following is not necessarily indicative of the national sentiment.

Julius Malema is by far the most popular South African politician on Twitter, with in excess of 456 000 followers, but his party only garnered 6.34% of the vote.

See what Barry Collins had to tell News24 about the ad platform on Google Hangout:

“There wasn’t much deep debate on social media about party policies, or how voters could compare one party’s policies over another,” social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24 about the engagement on social media in the elections.

She added though, that social media was a valuable arena where companies could engage with customers.

“For companies wanting to use social media to build their following, the elections are another example of how many people are now turning to social media to listen and engage with subjects of interest. As the votes were counted, social media was abuzz with results.”


Collins said that companies hoping to use Twitter should be aware of their goals and have a clear strategy.

“The first step to understanding the impact of any advertising campaign, whether on Twitter or elsewhere, is to understand what your objectives are. For some companies that might be general brand awareness, for others it might be driving downloads of a new app,” he said.

Indeed, companies don’t always get social media right and the failures can potentially have devastating consequences for the brand.

US Airways recently accidentally tweeted a graphic pictures was shared on Twitter numerous times before the company apologised and deleted the offending tweet.

British Gas asked its Twitter followers to give an opinion of the company on the same day that it announced a price hike and responses were mostly negative.

Collins said that companies should be actively involved in protecting their reputations on Twitter, rather than be idle observers.

“There are many great examples of businesses who have been able to turn around potentially damaging situations because they quickly saw the conversation developing and took an active role, instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

Published on News24

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SA safe to express political anger on social media

– Duncan Alfreds, News24 –

Cape Town – Social media in South Africa offers a way for the public to increase engagement with politicians, and the legal framework adds protection, a social media expert says.

A YouTube user recently created a parody of Psy’s Gangam Style aimed at South African President Jacob Zuma’s upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

The parody, titled Nkandla Style, garnered over 200 000 views on YouTube before it was shut down, following a copyright claim by Universal Music Publishing International.

“I think one of the beautiful things about living in SA is that we have the kind of press freedom that allows this type of parody to be made and aired. And no-one is thrown in jail because of it,” social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24.

“If you’re number one, you get to drive the gravy train; if you’re number one you get to fly the Gupta’s plane,” says the track in a reference to the relationship between Zuma and the influential Gupta family.

Political discontent

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that found that Zuma and his family improperly benefited from R246m in security upgrades that included a swimming pool, a cattle kraal and an amphitheatre.

The fact that channels like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are growing in popularity as channels to express discontent with politicians has prompted some countries like Venezuela, Turkey, Iran and China among others to ban content deemed offensive.

Fleming said that following the end of the apartheid regime, South Africans were more determined to act against corruption and disinformation which was widespread.

“There is a definite sense in mainstream media and social media that ‘social media citizens’ (ie those active on social media) have had enough of corruption,” said Fleming.

In the run-up to the national general elections, social media has changed the landscape in that the public can directly engage with politicians.

“In previous election periods, where social media wasn’t as prolific, there was still active debate on mainstream media – radio, newspapers, television. But social media broadens the debate – where any citizen with a phone can have an opinion,” Fleming said.

She added that despite the fact that the Nkandla Style video has been removed from YouTube, it indicates that SA allows vibrant debate on political issues.

“The Nkandla Style video on YouTube is a great example of this – the identity of the creator of the video is kept anonymous. And yet it has gained traction because of what citizens perceive as the truth of the message – and because they are tired of stories of corruption.”

Published on News24

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Are political parties on social media winning?

– Duncan Alfreds, News24 –

As the national general elections draw closer, it remains unclear whether the effort political parties are putting into social media marketing will make a difference.

“Parties have definitely accelerated their social media use in the election period. Although whether or not this translates into influence on voting patterns is unclear,” social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia, Samantha Fleming, told News24.

The Democratic Alliance was an early adopter of social media in its political messaging; the ruling African National Congress has jumped on the channel, particularly as it looks to win in the Western Cape.

On Twitter, the DA has around 73 000 followers, but that is dwarfed by the ANC at 112 000. Newcomer AgangSA has 44 900 followers, but has not shied away from taking shots at political rivals.

“You don’t owe it to Mandela to keep voting for ANC. You owe it to yourself and future generations to #VoteAgangSAInstead #Future,” the party recently tweeted.


Despite the fact that the Economic Freedom Fighters party has only around 41 000 followers, party leader Julius Malema is one of the most popular South Africans with 438 000 followers.

“I do find it interesting that Malema’s Twitter account has over 400 000 followers, while ANC only just over 100 000. Are we to assume that there are more Malema than ANC followers on Twitter? Or that disillusionment with the ruling party is forcing people to consider other options?” said Fleming.

On Facebook, the DA has been racking up likes – more than doubling its tally in three months to 85 541, while the ANC tails it at 62 017. AgangSA has 35 305, the EFF 7 277, and Cope 2 576 likes.

For comparison, News24 has 310 899 likes on Facebook.

Fleming said that political parties in SA have not yet learnt to exploit social media as a channel to engage voters.

“The kind of political debates seen on SA social media are not very nuanced. Political parties still tend to use platforms as a ‘push mechanism’ for talking about how marvellous they are, rather than engaging in substantive debate about different policies.”

The DA’s Facebook page has an “Ask Helen” section where people can question party leader Helen Zille about the manifesto.

By contrast, the ANC page on Facebook does not have unique branding and features Mosiuoa Lekota – the president of opposition party Cope, which itself has only 1 773 likes on the social network. The MyANC Facebook page has 121 000 likes.

Published on News24

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What if we held elections using social media?

By Duncan Alfreds

If the national election were to be conducted online, the Democratic Alliance would top the polls, a survey has found.

Compiled by Strategy Worx, the Online Presence Effectiveness Survey found that the DA had the most comprehensive online presence.

The company used an Online Synergy Audit tool which analysed both party websites as well as social media presence and gave the political parties a rating.

The DA scored 58%, Agang SA 52%, the ANC 46%, Cope 35% and the IFP scored 21%.

“The scores showed all the parties fell well short of online best practice, and it is clear that none of the political parties effectively use the online environment to communicate with their intended audience,” said Steven Ambrose, CEO of Strategy Worx.

Facebook success

The company surveyed Agang SA because it appears to understand the online environment well, said Ambrose, but the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) fronted by Julius Malema, was not surveyed.

According to Ambrose, the DA got the nod by virtue of its sheer volume of online touch points.

“The DA firmly edged out the second placed Agang, due to the DA’s extensive use of social media and its comprehensive presence across the web,” said Ambrose.

“The DA has numerous secondary websites focusing on regional areas and even individual sites for certain party leaders. The party’s use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media properties was generally consistent and appropriate,” he added.

Facebook support for the DA has surged since the acrimonious split between the party and Agang SA leader Dr Mamphela Ramphele. The DA has seen its Facebook likes increase from around 40 000 to 57 000 in a week.

The ANC has remained relatively consistent with 58 000 likes of the party’s Facebook page, while Agang SA has around 34 000 likes.

DA leader Helen Zille is active on Twitter with over 25 000 tweets and 374 000 followers, while SA President Jacob Zuma has 310 000 followers, but only 99 tweets.

But social network success alone does not always represent the way people actually think.

Public concerns

“Social media is innately problematic as a polling mechanism because there are many voters who don’t use social media and don’t follow political parties on social media,” Samantha Fleming, social media consultant at Afrosocialmedia told News24.

However, she conceded that the medium was a useful conduit to gauge public concerns.

“That said, social media can be a useful tool for political parties to get an idea of voters’ concerns and issues.”

Since the election of US President Barack Obama in 2008, politicians have taken the lesson of using social media as an integral component of campaigns.

However, in SA, the methodology may exclude a large percentage of the population who are still “offline” in that they don’t actively participate in online mediums.

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What is appropriate online? Be aware of being public


By Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town – New research has found that adult content consumption is growing rapidly on mobile devices.

According to Juniper Research, 250 million people will use their mobile phones or tablets to access adult content by 2017, an increase of more than 30% on current levels.

Adult content providers have recognised the demand for services on mobile devices and sites are often specifically optimised for mobile devices.

The Mobile Adult Content: Monetisation, Technologies & Legislation 2013 – 2018 report found that mobile devices will become the key distribution channel for adult content, especially as these devices are often personal, ie, they are usually exclusively used by one individual.

Computers, on the other hand, are more likely to be shared between users, increasing the likelihood that adult content will be discovered by unintended users.


The research company said that adult content would continue to migrate to mobile devices, especially as users subscribed to specific services.

“Whilst Juniper expects the total number of users of both desktop and mobile adult content to remain broadly consistent, we expect to see continued migration to smartphones and tablets, as more enhanced, tailored content makes its way onto these personal devices,” said report author Siân Rowlands.

In Europe and the UK, some operators impose blocks on adult content in order to restrict use, but the report found that such content is usually accessed through Wi-Fi networks where content blocks are unlikely to exist.

Many are primarily concerned that children are able to access adult content and the growth of smartphones could be viewed as an enabler, especially as declining parental supervision leaves children with unfettered access to the web.

According to Enough is Enough, children in the US begin consuming hardcore pornography online at the age of 11 and 80% of 16-year-olds regularly access pornographic content.

Some estimates put the porn industry worldwide at $97bn, indicating that it’s a big business.

In the SA, the problem of children accessing adult content is further exacerbated by the practice of sexting. The images and video are then widely distributed in social networks.


Experts have argued that children need direct guidance on how and what content is appropriate to share online.

“Before a child gets a phone, they need to have a very clear understanding about what ‘sharing’ something online means. It’s not private or confidential and never will be,” social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24.

She said that users should always assume that content could be public, despite being posted to a closed circle of friends on social networks.

“My golden rule is always: If you are happy to stand up with a megaphone in front of a crowd of 500 people and share this, then you can put it on Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, Whatsapp or BBM. Otherwise, just don’t go there.”


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Keep your children safe on social networks

Update: Here is a great article on what NOT to post online.

Social networks like facebook, MXit and twitter allow us to talk to all sorts of people all over the world. A lot of the time, people use pseudonyms and don’t give their real names. While this is good because we can remain anonymous, it also means that some people, especially children are more vulnerable to exploitation.

So how can you keep your children safe? It’s important to be aware of what your kids see and hear online, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Tell your children that people online might not be who they say they are and could be dangerous. They should also be aware that any personal information they give out can be used for bullying or scams. Agree on some rules for online behavior. Monitor your child’s use of mobile phones/internet; and use parental control software where available.
When making a set of rules for using the internet or mobile phone, include your child. Being involved will help them understand the dangers and give them a sense of responsibility.
Here are some guidelines for agreed rules for online behavior:
1.   I will not give out personal information (name, address)
2.   I will tell my parents/an adult if I come across something that makes me feel uncomfortable.
3.   I will never get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If they agree, it will be in a public place.
4.   I will never send a person my picture or anything else personal.
5.   I will not give out my passwords to anyone.
6.   I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software
7.   I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is illegal.
The best way to keep your child safe online is to get online yourself to learn how they use technology.
Get onto facebook, MXit and bbm and it will help you to understand your children’s communication needs and how to be more savvy about the dangers they face.
– originally written for the Daily Voice –
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