This post is a follow-up to Review of Facebook’s top 7 African Countries. I conducted further analysis of social network market shares in the top 7 African markets, and I share results and insights here.
Given the relatively high market share by Facebook in Africa (88%), my focus in this post is mainly on performance of the top 3 social networks, as shown in Graph 1 below.
Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are the most popular social networks in 6 of the top 7 African markets. Stubleupon, a recommendation engine that uses peer and social networking principles, takes the second spot only in South Africa (as it does in North America). While this social network has a sizable market share, it is under pressure and its prospects are not looking good.
Twitter is bigger than Youtube only in Nigeria and South Africa. The recent Twitter African report that showed South Africa and Kenya lead the continent by the number of tweets in 2011 is supported by this social network’s market share in the two countries.
I indicated in the previous post that South Africa and Kenya are the most competitive social media markets, and this is evidenced by the comparatively lower combined market share of the top 3 social networks in each country. The social network that is making a noticeable foray into the South African market is Pinterest, whose market share jumped from nowhere to 2,3% in 2012. At this rapid growth rate, this social network will end 2013 at a share higher than Youtube (3,8% in 2012).
The top 7 African markets have 10 or more social networks that are used by their respective social netizens, with Nigeria having the most number. It is not clear from analysis of the top 7 African countries whether there is a direct correlation between number of social networks and vibrancy of a market. However, it is clear that the top 3 social networks in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and to some extent Nigeria render the remaining social networks insignificant thus far.
Year-on-year growth analysis in Graph 2 below indicates that Facebook is getting increasing competition from the other social networks.
Facebook’s poor share performance could be due to the wearing off of the novelty factor. Twitter’s mixed share performance across the top 7 markets, and overall 5% decline in Africa, is rather surprising given that this social network is still niche. But I think it is too early to rule it out of competition. Youtube’s robust growth in mainly North Africa is hard to explain. The closest one can speculate is that this is due to the Arab Spring? Is this partly driven by the increasing bandwidth speed in the rest of Africa, brought about by the rolling out of the undersea bandwidth fibre cables in both the east and the west of the continent? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between?
Now back to the $100 billion question. Does Africa provide a fertile ground for Facebook’s future growth in subscriptions given the current downward trend in market share? Can something be done to induce renewed interest in this social network? All current and prospective investors who did their homework should be asking this question about the newly-crowned public company.