Social Media use in Uganda

Posted on May 21, 2015 08:36 am

Uganda has seen large increases in social media adoption, mobile penetration and the emergence of social business models that are being duplicated outside capital city Kampala to other regional business hubs like Mbarara, Jinja, Gulu and Masaka. Social media offers a level of visibility and access that surpasses many of the barriers that underdevelopment can pose.With more and more Ugandans moving from rural outskirts to urban centers, Kampala has become a hub for creative tech innovations. As Uganda continues to develop as an emerging leader in Great Lakes region, social media will play a significant role in the development of the country’s key industries and markets. Due to it’s largely rural population , statistics shows that Internet Penetration in Uganda remains low at slightly over 5 million users.Interestingly though, scarce internet access is counterbalanced by an impressive 70% mobile penetration rate, with a quarter of mobile users using social media apps. Although good number of Ugandans mainly use desktops or laptops for internet access, as internet penetration continues to climb, targeting mobile users will be key to tapping the Ugandan market.Facebook is unsurprisingly biggest social network in Uganda, according to the data of the population using it. However, in keeping with social media trends, there is a strong adoption level for location based services. More than 40% downloaded by Uganda mobile users fall into this category, explaining the recent surge in Instagram popularity in Uganda. If this trend continues in 2016, as many are predicting, apps like Instagram can be expected to potentially surpass Facebook popularity in several key towns like Kampala and Entebbe. Facebook holds the most popular social media site in Uganda, followed by Google +, Twitter comes at number three while Instagram occupies fourth position and Linkedin comes at fifth position.Uganda closely follows the social media platform trends seen globally, with Facebook, Google+ and Instagram among the most popular social networks. Messaging networks, like Whatsapp and Viber, continue to have a strong presence in the country as well. When looking at Great Lakes region as a whole, residents of the Uganda spend the most time on social media each day, with an average of three hours in Kampala region that factors in Mukono and Entebbe while rest of the country the average time spent is one hour 15 minutes.

Notably, LinkedIn is popular with high income Ugandan males. Visual platforms which also include Snapchat and Tumblr are popular with 19 – 29 year olds. The social media sites tend to be accessed at the beginning of the day and the end of the day while people are waking up and getting ready for bed. Social media is a great way for Ugandans to stay connected, but you also have to wonder if there is an impact on personal relationships and sleeping patterns when Ugandans are spending six and a half hours on Facebook each week. There is a big variation in how age groups are using social media. For one third of young people, accessing social media seems to have replaced reading the newspaper. Data available shows that only three percent of over 65’s Ugandans are using social media.Interestingly, social media use among Ugandans during work rose from 10% to 45% in less that two years and does this suggest that employers are recognising the benefits social media can bring to business?It appears not, with the number of Ugandan businesses with a social media presence stagnating. However, many small and medium sized Ugandan businesses are said to be planning on establishing a profile in the year ahead, a real opportunity for businesses to engage in a discussion where their customers are already talking.Thus it appears that there is scope for digital media players in Uganda to take their knowledge into the small and medium business sector.  Uganda serves as an interesting example of the effects of social media on Sub Saharan Africa. Booming industries, such as retail and tourism, are experiencing a significant opening up as both visibility and discoverability through online mediums provides greater marketing opportunities for remote businesses. Some Ugandan businesses have been quick to adopt social media not only to promote and advertise their services, but also as an element of savvy business strategies targeting regional and international audiences.Given that nearly more than half of Ugandans with smartphones are on social media, Uganda’s leading brands like MTN, Airtel, NTV Uganda, Mukwano Group of Companies and others who are serious about expanding their business need to adopt a social media strategy. Uganda’s biggest industries have all seen significant increases in consumer engagement via social media, and an overwhelming majority of these interactions are occurring on Facebook, Google + and Twitter.There’s no doubt in Ugandan business, the opportunities to successfully market and grow business, both locally and regionally, are limitless.

Contador Harrison