Due to the high mobile usage associated with South Africa and global emphasis on mobile social networking, it did not take long for young entrepreneurs as well as the big telecommunicaitons to enter this market.
But, where is the gap?
According to Opera Software’s “State of the Mobile Web” report, mobile social networking consumes more than 60% of mobile web traffic in South Africa. As an inevitable result, a sudden hype around Mobile social networks as advertising mediums have taken the industry by storm. The following article provides great insight into the social mobile network usage as well as some information relating to the big players such as Mxit, Vodacom’s The Grid and Meep , Mig33 and MTN’s noknok, as well as some valuable insights into mobile social network marketing, read article here.
To further demonstrate the growing importance of mobile marketing in South Africa it is worth having a look at this article , revealing that the UCT graduate school of business has unveiled a course that will teach marketers and business leaders “how to reach the estimated 36-million cell phone users in South Africa.”
What does this mean?
The opportunities in reaching consumers via their mobile phones are endless, and one such a platform is via mobile social networks including mobile instant social messaging tools, which has already started to infiltrate the cellphones of millions of South African mobile users. What I am interested in though, is the actual functionality of the available offerings for the consumer, why I would choose one over the other or if so, might I need more than one? This questions are asked to ultimately determine where there is a gap in the market for young entrepreneurs, like myself, to develop innovative and relevant mobile offerings.
Why the focus on mobile social networks?
Well, I could not help but to think that a country where there are 11 official languages often characterized as the rainbow nation infused with cultural differences translating into a broad variety of social needs, surely represents the perfect market for niche mobile social networks providing a platform where each and every individual can find their social preference right on their mobile. Even better, express their social individuality to the world, have their say whilst gaining entrance into previously unaccessible information and media platforms . In simpler terms, think the blogosphere of mobile – providing South Africans with limited Internet access, entrance into the online social universe.
South African Mobile Social Networks
One such a mobile social network I could find was MYMsta, a new South African mobile social network dedicated to youth empowerment & HIV prevention. MYMsta is a project of loveLife, South Africa’s largest youth HIV prevention NGO. This network took a social need and provided a platform for consumers who feel the need to connect, network and together contribute to youth empowerment and HIV prevention.
A personal favourite based on first look and feel of their website is mibli – a mobile social network offering decreased cellphone bills, access to hip and happening youth content, and as the differentiating offering LIVE TV stuff and Internet Banking as well as great competitions associated with signing up! In general it is sick, even just being on the website makes you feel part of something sweet.
Another local player is Pooosh – A mobile application that saves you money whilst allowing talking, messaging, chatting, email, file sharing, discounted SMS, and backing-up your contacts. Thus more an instant messaging tool than facilitating rich social media and user generated content.
In contrast, UBYou gives cell phone users access to an entertainment based social networking platform rich with local flavour. But not that feeling to it, such as interface design and web presence.
In combination with the above mentioned Mxit, Vodacom’s The Grid and Meep , Mig33 and MTN’s noknok, there are already plenty networks to choose from, so maybe what we need is one connecting all of them together – like a “Digsby” (check Digsby out here) for mobile social networks.
It will be very interesting to watch the mobile social networking space grow in South Africa, and I think there are several opportunities for young entrepreneurs to leverage the power of the amount of active mobile users, if they are not already doing so!