12 Things You Should Know About How Africans Use Twitter

12 Things You Should Know About How Africans Use Twitter

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Africans who tweet don’t like to talk about brands nearly as much as their American counterparts. Instead, Africans are increasingly talking politics as Twitter comes of age in Africa, according to a London-based communications firm. Previous research showed that Twitter in Africa was more of a space for social interaction. Now serious debate about politics and government prevails. Twitter continues to be one of the most popular social networks available in Africa, enabled through a heavy mobile usage and apps that cater to smartphone users.

We take a look at 12 things you should know about how Africans use Twitter.

Sources: Forbes, CNN, TheNextWeb, Quartz, HowAfricaTweetsWorldWideWorx.

social media
Africa is a mobile friendly place. Photo: ibtimes.com

Mobile dominates

Twitter is able to thrive on the African continent for the simple fact that the platform is easily accessible via mobile phones, both feature and smartphone. More than half a billion people across Africa now subscribe to mobile services, with that number set to reach 725 million by 2020.

Egyptian Naguib Sawiris is a popular figure on Twitter. Photo: Ventures Africa
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris is a popular figure on Twitter. Photo: Ventures Africa

Egyptians tweet a lot

According to the ‘How Africa Tweets’ study by Portland Communications, Egypt was the African country that tweeted the most, with around 500 million tweets coming from the North African nation.

Africans use Twitter
Twitter is a popular social media platform in Africa. Photo: blackhistorymonth2014.com

Nigeria, SA and Kenya enjoy Twitter too

According to the same Portland Communications study, Nigeria was second with 360 million tweets, with South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana posting 325 million, 125 million, and 70 million tweets respectively. Africa tweeted 1.86 billion times during 2015 (the study period) in total.

Entertainment continues to dominate as a Twitter theme. Photo: www.twitter.com

Entertainment is a popular theme

Tweets focused on entertainment made up 20% of all African hashtag-related Twitter posts from Africa in 2015, with Twitter feeds in Africa also filled with tweets concerning commerce, politics, lifestyle and football, in that order.

Using the Hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou. Photo: Twitter
Using the Hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou. Photo: Twitter

Educating the world about Africa

Hashtags such as #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou have become popular means for showing off interesting and positive aspects of the African continent, with users throughout the world able to see images of the continent that are not always forthcoming through the international media.

African Heads of State
President Uhuru Kenyatta is verified on Twitter. Photo: Hapakenya

African heads of state are on Twitter

Donald Trump is not the only world leader who loves to communicate in posts of less than 140 characters. African heads of state and politicians make use of social media to communicate with peers and the people they serve. From Kenya to Egypt, high-profile African heads of state tweet, retweet and reply to followers.

Michelle Obama tweets her support for the kidnapped Nigerian girls (Photo: theguardian.com)

Using hashtags to express collective sentiment

African hashtags such as #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria and #FeesMustFall in South Africa have gone viral globally with Twitter users from around the globe showing solidarity with the Nigerian terror victims and the South African student protesters respectively.

Most tweets are in English. Photo: Pixabay.com

Most African Twitter posts are in English

English is the most used language on Twitter in Africa, with 77% of the top 5,000 hashtags posted in English, while Arabic was the next most popular language in the sample data from the Portland Communications study.

Eden Hazard
African Twitter users can follow soccer scores via the app or mobile site – telegraph.co.uk

Keeping score

The mobile friendly nature of Twitter and the fact that it is accessible throughout the continent, even at very low Internet speeds, means that it is an ideal tool to keep up to date with the latest soccer scores from around the world, as long as users are following the right people.

An example of Twitter being a platform for Africans to discuss politics on the continent. Photo: www.twitter.com

More political debate in Africa than the US and UK

During the period of study, politics was found to be an important subject in Africa compared to the Western world. In fact, 10 of the most popular topics were about politics, compared with one in 50 for both the United Kingdom and America.

Twitter could be the ideal marketing tool for brands wanting a piece of the African market. Illustration: Bombasticelement.org

Twitter provides a marketing opportunity for brands targeting Africa

Brands looking to break into the African market or gain further traction on the continent could look to Twitter as a tool, as African Twitter users are typically young, educated and based in cities, while they also have higher disposable incomes than the average non-Twitter user.

Africans across the continent are discussing pertinent issues. Photo: brioweb.eu

Twitter promotes cross-border conversations

More than ever before, Africans across borders seem to be commenting on and debating about common issues. In 2015, for example, there were numerous popular continent-wide tweets that focused on the conflict in Burundi and Nigeria’s presidential elections.