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S Africans don't trust social media

News, 13 April 2016

JOHANNESBURG: A majority of online South Africans use their internet access to go onto social media but they don't trust what they find there, according to new research.

The 2015/16 Domestic Perceptions study by Brand South Africa – the body responsible for marketing the country – polled 2,536 citizens and found that over 60% of respondents had access to the internet.

Of these, 80% went online to use social media, while 61% did so for research purposes, 37% for applications and just 33% for access to current affairs and news. Online banking (9% ) and shopping (8%) were minority pursuits.

The research also found that most people wanted to be "constantly informed about current affairs within their communities and country" – but despite the proportion using social media this was the least trusted of all possible sources of information, attracting just 22% who said it had a "very positive impact".

Family, friends and colleagues were the most trusted, with 40% saying this source had a very positive impact, followed by television news (37%) and radio news (35%).

Advertising was a close fourth (34%), ahead of documentaries (32%) and newspaper articles (29%).

Information provided by the South African government had a very positive impact on 26% of respondents, the same proportion as magazine articles, while news or other websites were just behind on 25%.

The figures suggest that brands hoping to exploit digital marketing to reach the growing number of online South Africans may have some work ahead of them if they are to gain the same level of trust extended to traditional advertising.

Other media consumption factors highlighted in the study were that 92% of all respondents owned a mobile phone, while 30% used a laptop and 9% a tablet.

In terms of television, the most-watched channels were found to be SABC, movies and religion.

Just over half the respondents indicated that they listened to radio everyday with Metro FM, Lesedi FM and Umhlobo Wenene being among the most popular radio stations.

And a quarter of the population read a newspaper every day, with the Daily Sun (34%) by far the most popular.

Data sourced from Brand South Africa; additional content by Warc staff