The South Africa Social Media Landscape 2015 report found that of those users whose gender was identifiable, 5.6-million males and 5.6-million females used Facebook.
The report that was released on Monday was compiled by technology market research organisation World Wide Worx and analytics company Fuseware.
The findings, released in September, showed Facebook remained the most popular social network in the country, followed by YouTube and Twitter. World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck said the level of equality underlined the extent to which social media had become mainstream.
“This is a clear sign of both the maturity of the platform and its mainstream use as an everyday tool rather than as a high-tech choice,” he said in a statement.
Goldstuck said of the South African users, 8.8-million accessed Facebook on their mobile phones. “This means that targeting Facebook users is not a matter only of marketing on the Facebook website – its mobile properties are probably more important.”
The biggest phone operating system used in South Africa for Facebook was Android, which grew from 1.26-million users in 2013 to 3.2-million in 2014. BlackBerry fell from the top position to second with a drop from 2.6-million to 2.4-million.
Apple’s iOS remained in third place with a relatively stable number of 580 000 users, while the Windows Phone emerged from below the radar with 124 000 to 260 000.
“More important than the operating system numbers, however, is the split between feature phones and smartphones,” Goldstuck said. Feature phones are low-end and have more limited features than high-tech smartphones.
“Five-million Facebook users still use feature phones. While smartphones only just dominate, at 5.6-million, it is clear that a large Facebook user-base is still on a basic device.”
The most commonly used handset for Facebook was the Nokia Asha, with 1.78-million users. In second place was the Blackberry Curve 8520 at 660 000 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 at 400 000.
“This statistic is also significant, bearing in mind the S4 is a premium device, underlining its social appeal in South Africa,” Goldstuck said.
Fuseware managing director Mike Wronski said the Facebook user-base was beginning to resemble South Africa’s urban population. “The highest growth in the user-base is seen in three key economic hubs, namely Johannesburg (55%), Pretoria (49%) and Cape Town (44%),” he said.
“Interestingly, Nelspruit continues to show high growth, at 40%.”
Wronski said South Africa bucked the global trend of younger users reportedly falling dramatically as a proportion of the user base.
“There is much debate about teenagers abandoning the platform, but it’s not yet a factor in South Africa,” he said. “The 13-18 age group remains the single biggest on Facebook with 2.5-million users.” – Sapa