Facebook Advertising South Africa

Facebook Advertising For South African Business

Ross Munro Williams Facebook, Facebook Advertising, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing Leave a Comment

With more than 1.4 Billion worldwide users and 17 Million South Africans estimated to be on the social media platform, Facebook provides an incredible opportunity to capture the exact audience you want for your South African business using Facebook Advertising.

Facebook advertising varies distinctly from paid search advertising (Google PPC), in which a user seeks a clear intent from their searches. Instead, Facebook ads are focused on audiences. Facebook users self-select hundreds of interests through their liking of pages, or the insertion of personal information such as employment type or location, amongst others. This information is then available for businesses to leverage when creating adverts to help them reach the users who care most about their product or services.

By combining how people communicate in 2017 and a robust set of targeting tools, Facebook has facilitated a game changer in digital advertising. There has never been a better opportunity in marketing history to reach targeted audiences with such ease and accuracy.

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Facebook Advertising South Africa

Types of Facebook adverts available to businesses

But before you begin advertising on Facebook:

Although there are a large variety of ways to advertise on Facebook for an even larger variety of goals, one that has particular relevance for most businesses in South Africa is Facebook Mobile Advertising.

With over 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world, and with 1.32 Billion daily active users (Aug 2017) worldwide, Facebook is fast becoming a key player in the mobile industry and recently stated that 73% of its ad revenue is generated from mobile users. This is in large part due to their mobile app being the world’s most utilised. This is of course due to the explosion of smartphone adoption around the world, including here in Africa.

And The South African Facebook Stats?

Facebook has an average of 17 million monthly users (Aug 2017), and of that 7 million are active on mobile daily and according to our own 30 day research, 73% of those visitors are mobile only users. This means that a large majority of South African Facebook users do not access the social network on a laptop or desktop computer. This is in stark contrast to the US and the UK where 47% and 45% are mobile only users as a result of them having a far higher access to either a laptop and desktop computer, or both.

Facebook Advertising South Africa

South African Facebook usage (March 2016)

Facebook Advertising South Africa

UK Facebook Usage (March 2016)

Facebook Advertising South Africa

USA Facebook Usage (March 2016)

What this means is that when looking to advertise on Facebook, you must first have a clear understanding of our mobile stats, our smartphone penetration as well as the South African internet accessibility and data usage statistics, before you consider Facebook Advertising. Without these considerations you will waste money and not get the results you could, or should have.

The South African Internet and Smartphone Situation

Although there are a ton of great marketing ideas and Facebook advert campaigns that are being documented by overseas companies, you have to understand how your target market access the internet, how much access they have and what they interact with when in Facebook, before launching any campaigns. You must remember that as shown above, South Africa does not mimic the developed countries in terms of Facebook access or usage. We have a different ecosystem where mobile is bigger as is the cost of internet access for a majority of South Africans.

The basics:

Currently South Africa is in a growth phase with regards its internet usage and smartphone adoption. Although there have been delays with rollout of the undersea cables, the bandwidth capacity to South Africa has been doubling year on year since 2011. By 2019 internet usage is expected to reach 27 million users, up from 15 million in 2014. At the same time the Government has plans to provide broadband access to every citizen by 2020, while free WIFI has already been installed in cities such as Cape Town and Tshwane courtesy of projects such as Project Isizwe.

On the smartphone adoption side, South Africa already has an estimated 23 million smartphone users in the country, equating to a population penetration of around 47%. What is interesting is that more South Africans are now using cellphones (29 million) than any other of the traditional media; radio has 28 million, TV 27 million and PCs only 6 million (Nielsen 2011). And it must be noted that smartphone penetration is expected to continue rising with entry level android smartphones selling in the region of R500 via Pep, Jet and Makro.

As a result mobile is the primary device for many; 57% of South Africa’s web traffic comes from mobile. However a vastly important stat to consider is the data accessibility of a large portion of smartphone users. Additionally the South African Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has reported that half of South African smartphone users are now able to access more than 1GB of data monthly (Courtesy Web Growth). A telling statistic when one considers what the users without access to 1GB choose to look at or click on when online.

South African Facebook Advertising Strategy.

What this all means is that depending on your target audience, your Facebook Advertising strategy will most likely be mobile focussed and it will need to take into consideration the availability of their internet access and browsing habits.

Thus ask yourself these questions:

  • How do they access Facebook and the internet? Own Phone/Desktop/Laptop or Shared? Work, Library or School?
  • What type of phone do they have? iPhone, Samsung, Blackberry?
  • Do they have access to WIFI? Work, School, Home, Library?
  • Do they have access to data over or under 1GB? Yes/No? How much do they have?
  • Do they have or use the Facebook App?

These questions are over and above the common targeting questions you would ask such as location, education, interests or behaviour. Because we live in South Africa we cannot blindly follow the developed worlds examples, we have to consider our own target market and how our users use Facebook and what they do once inside the platform. Your target audience may not even be on Facebook yet, and traditional advertising would be a better bet for your business for the time being.

If Facebook advertising is the right option for your business to explore, the next thing you have to consider is what type of advert you put out.

For example: If your target audience only has a feature phone, only accesses Facebook via the mobile web (not the app), does not have access to WiFi and has less than 1GB of data each month then a video advert might not be the smartest option for your business.

The same can be said for website click adverts which is one of the most common forms of Facebook adverts behind post engagement ads. If you do decide on using a website visit and your target audience are majority mobile only, then your website must be mobile friendly, lightweight and quick to load or your audience will most likely not convert as well as they could.

Ready to get started with Facebook Advertising?

Visit our Facebook Advertising Page and see how we can help you grow your business through Facebook.


Although Facebook is the largest social media platform, and it has enormous potential for your business to find its target market through Facebook Mobile Advertising, you have to consider:

  • Our smartphone adoption is still growing, with most using entry level Android smartphones
  • Only half of our population are currently on Facebook
  • Our internet accessibility and affordability is still some way off the developed countries
  • Our mobile-only usage stats are very high

Thus a South African business cannot simply copy a similar business from a developed country without first checking into their target market first. We have our own ecosystem and should seek to understand our own users before we embark on any Facebook Advertising Marketing or social media marketing strategies.

What are your thoughts on running an effective Facebook Advertising Campaign in South Africa? Have you had any poor returns as a result of not researching your target market in-depth first?

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About the Author

Ross Munro Williams

Ross is the co-founder of Inversion Marketing and clothing startup, Fanport.co.za. Ross heads up the marketing division of both companies. In his spare time, Ross is also a keen rugby coach with 10 years of experience under his belt.

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