Facebook remains the most used social media platform, at 78%, followed by LinkedIn (72%), Instagram (56%), X (51%), YouTube (51%), WhatsApp (49%) and TikTok (33%).

In 2018, 90% of brands were using X. By 2022, this figure had dropped to 69%. In 2024, use of the platform declined to 51%. It is expected to drop further as advertisers shun its toxic contents.

TikTok, on the other hand, has continued a relentless rise, growing from 1% in 2020 to 28% in 2023 and 33% in 2024.

For the purpose of the report South Africa’s biggest brands were asked which social media platforms they use and which they plan to use in the coming year. TikTok was the name most frequently mentioned in answer to the latter question, at 32%.

Brands say they use social media platforms to build brand awareness (72%) and to increase brand engagement (55%). Those using it as a core part of a marketing campaign dropped from 71% to 54%.

In terms of how much they spend on social media advertising platforms per month, 51% of brands said they spend more than R10,000, 18% spend between R10,000 and R20,000, 7% spend between R20,000 and R30,000, 7% spend between R30,000 and R40,000, 3% spend between R40,000 and R50,000 and 14% spend more than R50,000. World Wide Worx CEO Arthur Goldstuck points out that there has been almost no change in the highest categories of spending but an increase from 11% to 18% in the R10,000-R20,000 bracket.

Facebook is the biggest recipient of social media advertising budgets, followed by LinkedIn and Instagram.

It is interesting that 61% of brands said their social media budget allocation has remain unchanged, while 24% said it has increased

Writing in the report,  Goldstuck says this suggests that brands are falling out of love with social media. That’s partly to do with the instability across all platforms and partly a result of significant changes taking place within the platforms. Goldstuck points to a lack of differentiation of the tools that are being used across the various platforms and to certain missteps, and says the platforms need to regain the trust of major brands.

The majority of brands surveyed said social media had delivered brand returns (80%, compared with 65% in 2023), primarily in the form of brand awareness.

Well over half the respondents (61%) said their brand did not make use of paid social media influencers. Instagram and Facebook reels (53% and 50% respectively) are the most popular short-form video platforms at present, with 66% of respondents indicating that they plan to use these in the future.

Asked about effectiveness, 43% of respondents said Facebook was very effective, 38% said LinkedIn was and 33% said Instagram was.

The majority of respondents (63%) said they were allocating budgets towards new technology for marketing purposes, primarily AI for search and chat (59%) and AI in general (47%). Chat GPT is the most popular technology to produce, or help produce, social media content.

It is interesting that 61% of brands said their social media budget allocation has remain unchanged, while 24% said it has increased.

The big take-out: The results of the report indicate that advertisers no longer want to risk being associated with X.