Social Media Analyst Confirms #SocialMediaBlackout Was A Fail

#SocialMediaBlackout has been a trending topic on Twitter for the past two days (20 to 21 June 2017) after MTN introduced a cap to its previously unlimited free Twitter usage.

According to Eye Witness News, the hashtag was started by activist Ntsiki Mazwai who encouraged the public to not use social media or purchase mobile data on Wednesday, 21 June 2017 in an effort to convince mobile operators to reduce data tariffs.

Since 99% of #SocialMediaBlackout posts originated from Twitter I thought I’d analyse usage on the platform to better understand if the fight against data was successful. Here are the findings.

Twitter Activity in South Africa

On 21 June 2017, the day of the #SocialMediaBlackout, tweets and retweets totalled 1 014 134 posts and was 6% above the daily average of 956 080 posts. This was, however, below the average from the past year.

Twitter Usage South Africa
The above graph represents Twitter usage from June 2016 to June 2017.
Twitter Usage 2017
The above represents the number of tweets and retweets in South Africa from 1 January to 21 June 2017.

Over the 24-hour period, posts increased throughout the day as represented below.

Total post on Twitter 21 June 2017
The above reflects the total number of posts on Twitter per hour on 21 June 2017.

According to the data, Thursdays are the most popular for Twitter users, followed by Wednesdays.

Week Day Twitter Usage in South Africa 2017
The above graph indicates the average number of tweets and retweets per day of the week for 2017 to date.

The total number of posts was also 3% above the average number of posts on Wednesdays in 2017.

#SocialMediaBlackout

Not only was overall Twitter usage higher than average, but #SocialMediaBlackout was a trending topic and was the second most used hashtag, accounting for 2% of total tweets and retweets in South Africa on 21 June 2017.

Although it is unclear how the social media protest was expected to result in significant change to data prices, the drive has had no impact. MTN and Vodacom reported that there was no notable difference to internet usage over the past 24 hours.

Key Takeaway

South Africans are all talk and no bite. Despite the topic of data being a pain point for many South Africans, and although individuals have been vocal about grievances around the perceived high cost of data, when it comes down to actually taking action we aren’t prepared to do anything more than complain.

Find out more about the hashtag as well as other data-related hashtags below:

#SocialMediaBlackout Stats

Additional Reading

My Twitter War #YouTubeZA

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably would’ve seen the Twar that I was involved in last week.

For the past few weeks, @MickyCost has adopted the #YouTubeZA hashtag to start a Twitter chat. The theme for each week is voted for largely by South African YouTubers, and Michael tweets specific questions that people reply to.

These conversations have been taking place for several weeks and while spreading awareness that there is a community of YouTubers in South Africa is needed, I didn’t see any tangible support or change extending beyond Twitter. While this was my opinion, I wanted to get an indication of how others felt and so I created a poll asking them if they’d seen a change. And let’s just say I ruffled some feathers…

#YouTubeZA Fantomdan

Despite not voicing my opinion in the poll, numerous people saw it as an attack on the initiative and Michael (who also took it personally). I kept reiterating that I simply asked an objective question that was open for anyone to answer and I was not criticising the intentions of the chat. That didn’t stop the onslaught but I wasn’t afraid to share my opinion when confronted and that made me quite unpopular.

I knew the poll would be disruptive, which was kind of the point. If we aren’t thinking critically about what we’re doing and the conversation doesn’t lead to action then what’s the point?

Truth be told, I don’t believe that the #YouTubeZA conversation has amounted to anything more than a Twitter chat, which is disappointing. To my mind, the hashtag should be used to not only spread awareness but to act as a way of YouTubers connecting and sharing each other’s work. What I (and multiple others I have spoken to) have found is that people are participating in the Tuesday Twitter conversations and that’s where it ends. This suggests that people are simply using the chat as leverage to be discovered or learn from others.

What’s funny is that the results of the poll showed that 57% of people who voted felt the #YouTubeZA chat was nothing more than a weekly conversation so I’m clearly not alone. Despite that, I was attacked directly and indirectly because I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinion on the matter and chose to stand by my convictions.

Take Aways

  • Don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Having integrity means you aren’t always going to be everyone’s favourite, and this week reminded me that it’s okay to be challenging.
  • If you’re going to be bold enough to share your opinion, be prepared to be challenged. Hopefully, you are clued up enough on the subject before adding your commentary but either way, be prepared to engage in a debate.
  • Knowing when and when not to engage is so important in all aspects of life. Not every confrontation deserves a response, especially on social media.
  • Be open to debate, but have the courage to stand by your convictions when challenged in an analytical, mature and composed manner.
  • Know who matters and whose opinions should really matter. We all have opinions and particularly on social media we feel entitled to voice them. In doing so we open ourselves up to criticism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as sometimes it’s good to have your point of view challenged. This can either lead to your beliefs being altered or reaffirmed. Knowing whose opinions to consider or take seriously is key to forming sound points of view.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world. The onus is on us to work towards the vision we want to see. You are setting yourself up for disappointment by expecting others to do more, so it is on us to do what we can with what we have and not rely on others to bring about change.
  • Emotional intelligence is a thing. Not everyone has it, but self-awareness and being accountable of how you feel is vital when navigating conflict in any setting.

What are your thoughts? Has your viewpoint ever been challenged? How did you respond and would you react differently now? Let me know.