South Africa’s real internet battle for youth votes in the upcoming May 2014 election may not be fought on Twitter or Facebook, but rather on local mobile instant messaging application Mxit.
Mxit is a free mobile instant messaging service with 7.4 million active users, of which 6.5 million are based in South Africa, according to data from the social network.
Just under two thirds of Mxit’s users fall into lower to middle living standard measurements (LSM) categories in South Africa, while 67% of its users are black and 48% are between the voting ages of 18-24.
And using the instant messaging tool, rival political parties the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) have set up Mxit apps that have generated more followers than each of these parties’ national Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.
According to the ‘Mxit Brand Index’ for February 2014, the ANC’s national Mxit app has 63,242 subscribers, meanwhile the ANC Western Cape Mxit app has 319,670 subscribers.
On the other hand, the DA has 198,186 subscribers for its Mxit app.Mxit officials have told ITWeb Africa that these political parties use their apps for features such as live chats, polls and comments.
“Mxit still has millions of monthly active users and a demographic footprint far different than any other social network,” managing director of social media and analytics firm Fuseware, Mike Wronski, has told ITWeb Africa.
“Most Mxiters still access Mxit from non-smartphone devices, which makes it ideal for a political party looking to target lower LSM groups,” said Wronski.
Wronski; though, does not discount the importance of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter in South Africa’s election battle, as he said they should be included in a political campaign.
“YouTube would also be a fantastic way of sharing rich media content around a campaign to the higher LSM voters,” said Wronski.
But while Mxit is a social media force for South Africa’s 2014 elections, it is unclear as to whether the instant messaging tool could play a big part in future elections.
Competition from rival social networks such as Facebook and WhatsApp have resulted in Mxit losing its spot as South Africa’s top social network.
In late 2013, research firm World Wide Worx together with social media monitoring company Fuseware released statistics that pointed to Facebook having 9.4 million active users in South Africa versus Mxit’s 6.5 million users in the country.
Meanwhile, a ‘Mobility 2014 research study’ compiled by research firm World Wide Worx with the backing of South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) has claimed that WhatsApp has 10 million users in South Africa.
Mxit is also losing ground in Africa, where competing Cape Town based instant messaging application 2go has notched up over 10.5 million users across the continent versus Mxit’s 7.4 million, according to World Wide Worx and Fuseware research.
– See more at: http://www.itwebafrica.com/mobile/320-south-africa/232564-why-mxit-is-sa-elections-key-internet-battleground#sthash.1rmXmO43.dpuf