Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category


War, Famine, Corruption, or Pinstriped Suit, Mobile Phone, Rolodex

In South Africa on July 26, 2011 by P Grant

We always hear the negative news about Africa -war, famine- and specifically this week in South Africa, a new report of government corruption, criminal investigations and dirty tricks.

Equally as troubling, for the first time, Freedom House, a Washington DC think tank, has lowered South Africa from a country with a free press to one that is partly free.

So you wonder if social media can be used effectively in South Africa?  The answer is Yes.

“Communicating Africa: Transcending Borders with Digital Media,” presented by Georgetown University in 2009 featured a distinguished panel of experts who discussed the role of social media in telling the Africa story.  As a first semester graduate student, my take away came from the last speaker, a Nigerian student named Jennifer Ehidiamen, who disputed the negative stories she constantly reads about Africa, saying there’s more to Africa than hunger, poverty and corruption.

I will never forget her inspiring comments about how normal it is for the young people in South Africa to attend a meeting wearing their pinstriped suits, carrying their mobile phones and rolodexes.

For brands wanting to reach a major audience in South Africa, it’s still challenging but the one constant – the mobile phone-remains the primary communication tool.  In fact, there are more mobile phones in South Africa than taxis, TVs and radios combined.

Out of a population of about 48 million people, only a little over 5 million have a personal computer. However, by 2014 it is estimated that 20 percent of the people will have internet access

In short, yes, these numbers support the optimistic outlook of the young generation of South Africans like Jennifer Ehidiamen.

For a prime example of a social media success story in South Africa, look to last year’s Soccer World Cup. Most of the major brands were marketed via YouTube, although Facebook and Twitter were used too:   

Coca Cola sponsored a social media event where you could upload your own goal-winning celebrations on YouTube and win video awards;

Sony offered a “Twitter Cup” pitting tweets from opposing teams or the most amazing coaching strategies;

Budweiser presented a YouTube TV type reality show featuring 32 fans representing the World Cup Countries

It was the World Cup’s first use of social media.  Sony, Budweiser and Coke are only a few of the companies who used social media.   It was so successful that marketers and advertisers believe the World Cup brought the use of social media to a new level.  I can’t wait to see what happens with social media at the 2012 London Summer Olympic games, 2014 Sochi, Russia Winter Olympic games, as well as the 2016 Brazil Summer Olympic games.

Mascots for 2012 London Olympics

For Jennifer Ehidiamen, who wants the world to see there is more to Africa than the negative stories covered in the traditional media, social media’s heavy use at the FIFA World Cup did just that.  If you’re going to do business in South Africa, put on your pin-striped suit, bring your mobile phone, rolodex and look to social media to sell your products.





“MXit Up” to reach South Africans

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by @LauraEWilson Tagged: , ,

It may be surprising that in a country starved for bandwidth and an internet penetration that has not yet reached 20% that mobile is a viable alternative to reaching a South African audience. Despite its track record in technological development, South Africa is at the center of a mobile revolution.

Out of the mobile boom in South Africa has sprung Mxit  the extremely popular  online mobile instant messenger and social network.  In South Africa, MXit is significantly bigger than Facebook and Twitter combined.  Each day, around 700 million messages are sent and received globally on MXit  which to put in perspective is 3.9 times more messages than the total amount of Tweets sent around the world each day.

A screenshot of MXit on an iPhone

MXit originally launched in South Africa in 2005 as primarily an instant messaging platform and by all accounts is extremely addictive to its largely young demographic (47% of Mxit users are between the ages of 19 and 26.) One user even wrote a song about his MXit habit. The original concept of Mxit may remind you of the days of AOL chat rooms and instant messenger but on your mobile phone. However, in the last several years MXit has transformed itself into a full-fledged global social network.

Besides its popular one-to-one and group chat features Mxit allows for creation of email on mobile phones; entertainment features such as interactive games, music and mobile phone application downloads; sports, news and weather updates, competitions, surveys, and questionnaires and MXit exchange a classified section.

MXit also features MXit Cares, which offers its users free real-time advice and counseling. This is particularly important in a country ravaged by HIV/Aids and could potentially make a huge impact on young South Africans. MXit works directly with agencies like Childline, Cell-Life and RLabs to bring professional counseling to its users.

While some of Mxit features may sound relatively rudimentary to Americans accustomed to smartphones we must remember that many South African’s mobile phones do not yet have smartphone capabilities and MXit is much friendlier to use on a low end phone than many other applications. While MXit does make an iPhone  (MXit iPhone application screenshot seen to the right) and Droid applications it must cater its features to the largest demographic in South Africa which is those with an internet browser but not yet what we would consider a “smart phone.”

MXit offers companies the ability to buy a    hosted chat zone to engage with consumers. A Chat Zone on MXit is a collection of chat rooms where members of the MXit community can engage in conversations about a brand. MXit allows companies to create a virtual world that suits your brand’s personality. Companies can even have a popular personality or spokesperson join in on the conversation in that chat zone.

One campaign that had huge success on MXit was the Engen Endless Summer Campaign targeted at teenagers traveling in their cars with their parents during the summer. The campaign’s goal was to engage the young teens and keep them occupied in the backseat of the car and  of course, get them to beg their parents to stop at the next Engen convenience store.

In a country where many people remain unconnected to the traditional Web, companies would be foolish to miss out on an opportunity to engage consumers on MXit.


Is Social Media Relevant to South African Businesses?

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Katherine Hutton

In the United States, almost 80 percent of the population is an internet user. That number is even higher in Norway at around 92 percent. South Africa is a different story, though.

Out of the countries we have studied in this class, South Africa has the second lowest population of internet users according to percentage of overall population, at just under nine percent. (Of these countries, the only one with a lower rate is India.) Like India, social media within the country can only currently work with a small, specific group of people.

Since apartheid ended in 1994, South Africa is supposed to be free from racial segregation. Legally, it may be. In terms of the internet, however, there is still a vast difference in internet usage and demographics. The white minority makes up only 9.2 percent of the country’s population, yet is a whopping 61.76 percent of the internet population. On the other side is the black majority, which makes up 79.4 percent of the South African population, yet only 26.66 percent are internet users. There is still a clear divide between the ethnic groups in the country.

Most of these statistics show that the internet simply hasn’t reached all areas of South Africa; the Whites live in the main metropolitan areas, while the Blacks live in more rural communities.  This uneven distribution of internet access demonstrates that, as of right now, it is difficult for businesses to use social media to communicate with all South Africans, only the urban Whites.

So is social media a good tool for South African businesses? Here are a couple examples of attempts by South African companies.

1. Steri Stumpie

Steri Stumpie, the makers of a flavored milk drink, is one such company attempting to use Facebook and Twitter to create a dialogue between itself and its customers. From its website, a visitor will note that he or she can become an Official Unofficial Ambassador of the brand. Another point of interaction is a contest they recently held for fans to send in creative photos of the product.

Its number of followers on both Facebook and Twitter (at 39,000+ and 900+ respectively) are fairly good in comparison to the number of internet users. The contest and the ambassador programs are both successful ways of using two way communication. But in looking at the above screenshot from the Steri Stumpie website, it’s clear that mostly the minority White population have access to the website.

2. De Beers

South Africa is known for its mining industry, and probably its best known company is De Beers. The diamond giant is recognized internationally, but was founded in South Africa and headquartered in Johannesburg.

In 2010, JWT helped create a viral video campaign for De Beers called “Drop Everything For Love” that was strictly online. Professional camera crews follow a select few people in their extraordinary love stories to start the campaign and consumers are encouraged to add their own “webcam declarations of love.” This is a great way to reach out to the international community as well as associating De Beers diamonds of love.

But what about marketing to South Africans themselves? Is it once again only worth connecting with the small group of internet users?

Granted, it makes sense to use social media only for audiences who actually have access to the internet. But a huge population of South Africa is being ignored because of their lack of access. Members of those populations might have made some fascinating entries in the Steri Stumpie, but they were not able to contribute to the internet contest.

Once more South Africans have access to faster and better internet, social media will be much more relevant to the country’s people and its businesses as a whole.














South Africa Hopes to See You Soon

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Erika S.

“Who lives sees much. Who travels sees more.”  — Arabic proverb

A 'My Mission South Africa' advertisement that utilizes QR code technology.

My fascination with Africa runs deep — and it all started when I was eight-years-old when Disney’s masterpiece, ‘The Lion King’ hit the big screen. Yes, you read that correctly; it’s so cliche, but it’s my truth. I vividly remember crying in a Sears when my mother refused to purchase the movie on VHS (her reasoning: I saw it in theaters), she eventually caved (those tears) and I excitedly went home and watched the movie on repeat over and over and over again for weeks, maybe even months. It became an obsession.

One of my wildest dreams is to visit Africa, specifically South Africa. While there, I hope to embark upon an adventurous wild safari ride, where I can spy on lions, cheetahs, zebras, elephants, giraffes and whatever else the scorching sun brings out; I also hope to cruise the gorgeous coast of Cape Town, known for its spectacular views. One day, I hope to make this rather expensive fantasy a reality; but until then, I will settle for planning this fantasy vacation through the “My Mission South Africa campaign and will start by creating my very own fantasy mission.

‘My Mission South Africa’

South African Tourism recently launched “My Mission South Africa,” a social media campaign aimed to boost tourism by showcasing the diversity of South Africa’s rich landscape and stunning destinations. Interestingly, the campaign is aimed at the UK market and hopes to persuade UK travelers into making South Africa their next travel destination.

Matthew Armstrong, acting country manager for the UK who worked in collaboration with South African Tourism, says: “This magnificent country offers something for everyone… South Africa is a country where just about anything is possible and this is why we’re inviting travelers to create their own mission.”

The ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaigns invites prospective travelers to create their own South African mission (what they plan on doing while there) and implements several quintessential social media marketing elements:

Celebrity Endorsements

British celebrity, Jamie Theakston, describes his South African mission.

The campaign tapped four popular British celebrities: Jamie Theakston, Monty Don, Gloria Hunniford and Chris Packham, who will be traveling to South Africa for their first time in September and focusing on their personal areas of interest. All four celebrities will document their experiences on video and then share these experiences via TwitterFacebook, a micro-site and a specially designed mobile application throughout their time in South Africa.


Four lucky couples will be selected to win their chosen celebrity’s mission and will even spend a day with their chosen celebrity in South Africa. All that is required is entering the contest before August 6th, which after watching the “enter to win” video seems like a rather easy task. Likewise, the idea of being on vacation with a popular celebrity can be rather alluring to some, which will certainly attract more entries.

Interactive Social Media

The above dials are fixed to what would be my fantasy South African vacation.

Prospective travelers will be able to create their very own South African missions online using the interactive ‘My Mission’ builder. The ‘My Mission’ builder allows you to quickly and easily build your ultimate vacation itinerary from a list of predefined activities which are considered to be four key attributes of South Africa:

  • Adventure
  • Sport Culture and Heritage
  • Wildlife and Safari
  • Affordable Luxury

Upon creating your fantasy vacation, you can then store the full details online, send to family and friends, and even share on your Twitter and Facebook pages.

Along with these exciting interactive tools, South African Tourism is active on Twitter and Facebook, and has also built a new website dedicated solely to the UK market, which provides everything you need to plan your trip, including airfare.


In life, it’s always helpful when you have support from others. And when it comes to promoting tourism within a specific country and more specifically on a global scale, having an airline on your team certainly doesn’t hurt. South African Tourism has partnered up with South African Airways who is now the official sponsor of any related initiative, including the ‘My Mission South Africa’ contest.

Digital Application and Integration

There is no doubt that South African Tourism understands the value of using a digital platform to promote a campaign. Not only are they planning to implement video into the campaign through their celebrity endorsements and stream these videos throughout their vacations, they have also taken advantage of the functionality of QR code technology by placing it in advertisements within traditional media outlets, and also built mobile applications that support smart phones specifically for the ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaign.

I really love that this is a deeply and fully integrated marketing communications campaign that uses so many social media marketing tools and tactics. It’s not often that you see organizations effectively using so many different elements at once, but South African Tourism seamlessly incorporates several social media marketing elements which only further enhances their campaign.

Furthermore, what I find exceptionally fascinating by the ‘My Mission South Africa’ campaign is that it is aimed at a market outside of South Africa’s borders, a market actually on another continent. Given the level of detail in this campaign, South African Tourism certainly sends the message that they not only understand the value within the UK market, but that they understand the UK market and, more importantly, want to better understand each traveler individually. This gives me the impression and the confidence that while any traveler is on vacation in South Africa, it will be nothing short of impressive and amazing. Why? Because they genuinely understand exactly what travelers are looking for in their vacations and are willing and eager to provide those experiences.

Now my mission is to see all of South Africa!


Igniting the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 67-Minute Initiative

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Amira E.

Madiba, aka Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s former (and first black) president.

A man who changed history with his courage and dedication.
A man who set about to unify a divided people.

To many, he is a global symbol for peace, charity and hope.
To others, he is an inspiration to change the world.

Last week, on July 18th, the world (yes, even the Obamas and U2) united to celebrate Madiba’s 93rd birthday. His birthday has transformed into a global initiative – Mandela Day – driven by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the United Nations to encourage and inspire world citizens to spend 67 minutes (in honor of Mandela’s 67 years of service) to serve their world and fellow citizens.  (Read more about Mandela Day here.)

While the Foundation has developed a great initiative based on a fundamentally great idea, is it engaging South Africa’s plethora of NGOs and charities to create volunteer opportunities for the nation’s citizens?

Here’s a two-step process to ignite the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s 67-minute initiative:

1. Match Local Volunteers with Local Causes

The initiative calls on South African citizens to take 67 minutes out of their day to serve others in their community. The campaign website even recommends 67 ways people can “change the world.” The online list suggests that citizens support local community clinics, hospitals, support groups, soup kitchens, libraries, animal shelters and faith-based businesses (among many other suggestions). That’s a great start. But what if people don’t know what organizations are located in their cities? Or which ones need volunteers?

The Nelson Mandela Foundation should take their initiative deeper by telling people where they can find these organizations.

How? By partnering with active online databases of charities, NGOs and local organizations that need support. By offering a united front for the nation’s cause marketplace, the Foundation would be offering a one-stop-shop for potential volunteers – similar to the US-based VolunteerMatch. One of South Africa’s most comprehensive cause databases is Greater Good SA that has to-date connected 1,250 non profits with 10,000 registered individual givers. The website allows users to search for causes by type (HIV, Education, etc.) and location (Eastern Cape, Western Cape, etc.).

The Result: A list of 67 ways to change the nation that would engage and connect (even through a hyperlink) citizen givers with local causes in need.

2. Offer 67 Minute-Long Social Media Training to Cause Marketplace

South Africa may not have the highest Internet penetration in the world at 10.8%, but it has almost 6 million unique users, with almost 4 million of them on Facebook. A quick assessment of the cause marketplace’s digital presence shows that social media engagement is still weak. NGOs like Soul of Africa and FLKS collectively have less than 200 fans on Facebook. Other organizations like H.E.A.R.T. and Emthonjeni Fountain of Life Care Centre don’t have a social media presence at all. A research study done less than two years ago showed that only six percent of NGOs in South Africa are using social media in pursuit of their organizational goals. While the number has surely increased since the findings were released, the cause marketplace still has a long way to go.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has a unique opportunity to follow their own advice and offer 67 minutes of service to local NGOs through social media training sessions. The Foundation could even offer these sessions in partnership with global marketing agencies with a South African footprint (Ogilvy and TBWA both have offices in SA and do pro bono work). Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.

The Result: A low-cost, but high-impact strategy to revolutionize the entire cause marketplace. More importantly, this would allow South African causes to more effectively connect and engage with their potential volunteers and donors.


South Africa Wants Another World Cup: How Social Media Can Help

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by Candice

South Africa had the honor of hosting the  FIFA World Cup last year. The drone of vuvuzelas still haunts me to this day. The event was a huge success and South Africa wants the opportunity to host another international sporting tournament. South Africa unfortunately lost its bid for both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup tournaments to England and Japan respectively.

What went wrong?

These bids are based not only on the economic strength and infrastructure of a country, but also the International Rugby Board’s overall perception of a country’s passion for the sport of Rugby. The IRB member nations vote for the host of any upcoming Rugby Word Cup Tournaments.

In its bid for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) chose to focus mainly on its financial backing from the South African government and infrastructure when making its case. The organization missed huge opportunities to capitalize on what would have been a historic event that would bring attention to a sport that, despite it’s long history, has not captured the imagination of the world like other sports such as soccer. South Africa, having just hosted the World cup, could have leveraged some of that attention onto the Rugby World Cup. Also, 2015 would have marked the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Rugby World Cup where South Africa not only hosted, but also won the tournament. This was their first appearance in the tournament, and they were only allowed to participate after the end of apartheid in 1992. The story was depicted in the 2009 Clint Eastwood film Invictus. Oh and not to mention that the Springboks, the South African rugby team, are the current Rugby World Cup champions. The Springboks’ attempt to regain the championship at home would have made for great sports drama.

So What Now?

The desire to host another Rugby World cup has not faded but SARU needs to begin to assert itself as a Rugby powerhouse off the field. Rugby is wildly popular in South Africa and as the film Invictus depicts, the sport has served to unite a post-apartheid South Africa. SARU needs to build its online community in order to better connect rugby fans and build upon the national interest that’s already happening. The organization has the bare bones of a social media strategy. The high levels of activity on the team’s Facbook page demonstrate the fans’ desire to interact and engage. There are several areas where SARU could engage more.


The SARU website does have a live Twitter feed. However, upon closer inspection, the site itself has a dismal 53 followers! The organization only follows 15 people on Twitter in return. Worse, the organization has only tweed once. This is no way to utilize such a powerful tool. They need someone to focus on building up their Twitter account and provide interesting insider information to their fans. The best resource the organization has is the players themselves. The site should recruit the Springboks players to tweet about their experiences at practice, before and after matches, and during the upcoming Rugby World Cup which starts September 9th in New Zealand.

User Generated Content:

The team has its own YouTube channel which is in its infancy, but to reach it, a user has to be on the Facebook page. The SARU website should have a link prominently displayed on the website, and/or allow fans to upload personal experiences to the site related to the Springboks or even just their own experiences playing the sport of Rugby. Users could upload video of Rugby World Cup Watching parties as well. The organization needs to get more personal with fans and allow them to be a part of the content presented on the site.


The site has no RSS feed. The site should allow fans to subscribe to a news feed to allow them to stay abreast of Springbok news. The site also lacks any features or apps for smartphone users. In a country with such a large number of smart phone users, it is imperative that SARU utilizes the technology to build conversation.

The site could actually learn a thing or two from their competition in New Zealand, the All Blacks. The team’s site is extremely fan-friendly and incorporates much of the technology I mentioned above. In addition, the site offers smart phone apps for fans with mobile phones. With its high level of smartphone penetration, it is imperative that SARU utilizes the technology to build conversation.

The All Blacks site offers a feature where fans can write about their opinions about the All Blacks and their competitors. This provides a built-in community and high levels of engagement that fans would normally have to leave the site to achieve. Rather than disseminating information in a nice package, the organization takes a risk and allows for a free flow of information between themselves and fans.

The end result is a sense of ownership for the fans that breeds loyalty.

As I wrote this post, I listened to the live stream of IRB Total Rugby’s broadcast (which is smartly embedded into the SARU site) and a new Zealand player was being interviewed. He spoke about the importance not only of the Rugby World Cup tournament itself, but the fact that countries want to show off their country. He spoke about the importance of the community with the fans and their enthusiasm that make the experience so special. South Africa needs to gain the reputation as a rugby-loving nation with the ability to host a successful Rugby World Cup. Social media will give them the tools to do it.


Using Cape Town’s Charm to Promote a Good Cause

In South Africa on July 24, 2011 by vmcfarre Tagged: , ,

I had the best meal of my life when dining at the Quartier Française located an hour outside of Cape Town.  Not only was the experience unforgettable due to the fresh, delicate, delicious food, but I was happy that I could contribute to Street Smart. I learned about Street Smart by reading the brochure they included as part of the check. Street Smart raises money via participating restaurants that are currently located in the vicinity of Cape Town, and distributes the money raised directly to established organizations with the experience and facilities to help children who are living on the street (to date, the Quartier Française is the restaurant that has contributed the most to Street Smart).  Given how popular the foodie movement is and Cape Town’s culinary reputation, this is a good way of promoting a good cause.

This got me thinking:

  • 1,000 people get infected by HIV every day in South Africa
  • South Africa is the worst HIV AIDS infected country in the world which translated to more than 5 million infected people, 25% of them being of working age
  • 40%-50% of the current South African workforce will die of Aids within the next ten years which affects every sector of the economy

Given the statistics above and that educating children at a young age about HIV AIDS prevention is key to addressing this problem, I wanted to know if the organizations receiving the funds raised by Street Smart include prevention campaigns. 

Finding this information on the Street Smart website was a challenge. After some digging, I found out that Youth Empowerment Action is one of the organizations benefiting and they do not include information on their website about educating street children about HIV AIDS.


Suggestions to Better Promote Street Smart’s Work in the Cape Town Area

If Street Smart followed up with those donors who dined at the restaurants to relay what has been done with the funds, this could be a good source of funding (over 3 million tourists go to Cape Town every year).

To target those living abroad that have already contributed, Street Smart could be on Facebook and improve their website. I would donate again if I was contacted but would like to know things such as what is the number of children that are now in shelters and out of the street, do they educate them about HIV AIDS prevention, and what opportunities are available to them now. Accountability and transparency is key for all organizations, especially those involved in charity work.  A good way of communicating these efforts is through the internet and social media, especially for audiences in Europe and the US, like me. 

Everyone I talk to who has been to Cape Town falls in love and if given the opportunity, I believe many would want to give back to this organization, and follow their progress online. This creates a connection with tourists and gives them another reason to go back to Cape Town, back to the Quartier Française (it’s that good!), and try out other member restaurants, especially if they can follow and see what happened with the funds they donated.