JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's Johannesburg is chatty and concise. According to a new study, the city's metro area averages one geo-tagged tweet every 13 seconds, leading the African continent in Twitter usage. Using 140 characters or less, users in the metro area posted 608,387 geo-tagged tweets over a three-month span, the study found.
It's not a huge surprise that Johannesburg sends out tweets more frequently than any other city in Africa.
That's what the "How Africa Tweets" survey from Portland Communications found after looking at Twitter statistics from October to December in 2013.
Johannesburg, an economic leader in Africa and South Africa has the highest smartphone penetration of any nation on the continent.
Allan Kamau, who heads the Nairobi office for Portland Communications, says,
"Also, Egypt featured highly - Cairo, Alexandria, other top cities in terms of active tweeting. Moving to East Africa, Nairobi is the most active, not surprising. It's sixth most active on the continent."
The study was conducted by sorting through all geo-tagged Twitter posts. That means that a user allows their device to show their location, or puts a location information into their tweet. So these numbers don't necessarily reflect the total amount of tweets out of each city. But Kamau says they do give a reliable estimate for the amount of Twitter usage.
"It should be a broad indicator of the trends within the Twitter sphere," Kamau said. "It's representative enough for it to be a broad indicator of Twitter activity, trends in terms of how people are using it."
The company has done the survey twice now, and Kamau said the largest change he's seen is in how Twitter is being used.
"In terms of topics, one of the shifts that we've seen is when we look at our survey in 2012 was that it was very much social conversations online," he said. "We're seeing much more corporate. Many more companies having a presence online, so brands having a greater share of voice, being more active, engaging consumers directly."
He said consumers are also using Twitter to air out issues with bad products or services, not only with companies but government as well.
"It's a much more public place, and also it's a direct and public channel to complain. And people organize very well on social media," said Kamau.
Kamau says companies, governments and organizations - and even sports teams - see great potential in marketplace engagement.
According to Kamau, the top topic of Twitter across the continent is football. "Africans love football, are very passionate about their football teams, and Twitter provides a platform again for fans to get behind their teams.The most mentioned football team was Johannesburg's Orlando Pirates. It's just a fantastic platform for that kind of thing," he said.
Mickey Modisane, public relations director for the Orlando Pirates, agrees. The team's Twitter handle has 145,000 followers and is used frequently.
"Sometimes we tweet out about 15 to 20 times in a day with regards to, it could be about players availability, ticket sales, PR activities, PR campaigns," said Mondisane.
He's happy that his team is one of the most talked about teams on Twitter. "For us, we're quite excited," he says. "It simply means it's something good that we're doing as far as social networking is concerned and as far as Twitter is concerned. Because we definitely engage our fans."
That might be something to tweet about.