Social media helps South Africans keep up with major news


Twitter on Monday began testing "buy buttons" that let people make purchases directly from marketing posts fired off at the globally popular one-to-many messaging service.

CAPE TOWN – Social media conversations around this year’s Budget speech show that South Africans “depend on social media and especially Twitter for up-to-the-second breaking news”, according to 25AM, a Cape Town-based digital agency.

The agency&39;s CEO, Andre Steenekamp, said statistics about the 2016 Budget Speech showed that the amount of social media engagement among South Africans was “twice as high" as for the 2015 Budget Speech.

However, there were fewer conversations than for President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address, which attracted more than 255,000 mentions compared with 57,000 mentions for Wednesday’s speech by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Twitter garnered most of the social media conversations and journalists’ live tweeting and news coverage helped to drive these conversations.

The most popular hashtags used were Budget2016, followed by budgetspeech2016 and pravingordhan, said Steenekamp.

The key finding was that South Africans showed a high level of interest in social media during the Budget speech, which was indicative of the “continued growth in social media usage in the country”.

The hashtag sugartax also attracted a lot of attention across social media, following the announcement that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages   will come into effect next year if passed.

Steenekamp noted that, overall, most conversations about the speech were “factual and neutral in sentiment”, and with almost equal amounts of positive and negative feedback, “opinions were split about whether Gordhan succeeded in restoring confidence to the South African consumers and businesses following the Nenegate debacle of late 2015”.

In December President Jacob Zuma had fired trusted finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with backbencher Des van Rooyen, sending the markets into turmoil and forcing him to reappoint Gordhan to the position just four days later in a bid to calm the waters.