Skip to content

YouTube: The Hidden Marketing Gem in South Africa

YouTube has grown rapidly over the past few years in South Africa. However, the channel is still an enigma to many brands, especially in South Africa.

How, when and why to use it as part of a marketing strategy is something brands tend to struggle with, and it is often reduced to a platform to populate only when ads and other video content is available.

With YouTube being the second most used platform in SA after WhatsApp, are brands missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with a much broader local audience?

South African YouTube statistics

  • Between 2020 and 2021 YouTube overtook Facebook in terms of usage
  • YouTube is the third most visited website in SA
  • The platform saw a 24% increase in visits during lockdown
  • The android app has an average of 43.9k downloads per month in SA
  • According to Kantar, if YouTube were a TV channel, it would be the fourth largest channel in South Africa, since it currently has a higher viewership than SABC3 and any individual DSTV paid channel.
  • And according to the Digital 2021 Report, YouTube has the largest potential advertising audience in SA, with 24 million potential users (1 million more than Facebook).

How South Africans are using YouTube

Despite the slow start, there has been a steady rise in local content creators on the platform – further propelled by YouTube’s active collaboration with African creators. The top trending content creators in SA include MDM Sketch Comedy, The Ndlovus Uncut, Lasizwe and Leon Gumede – all of who are enjoyed by SA audiences for their ability to make viewers laugh with high-quality sketch comedy and relatable storytelling.

South African audiences are getting a chance to see themselves represented in more ways – not just making content accessible but making diverse local stories accessible.

Local brands are uniquely positioned to tap into viewers’ need to be seen in content collaborations as much as partnering with influencers on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Brands engagement on YouTube

People are watching more YouTube than ever — on mobile, laptops, and even the TV. Brands should get in on the views whilst be conscious of their presence on the platform. Because consumers expect a lot more from brands than faceless sales pitches and heavy-handed advertising these days. Thus, YouTube has emerged as a platform uniquely suited for forging genuine connections and fostering brand loyalty in creative ways.

Top brands on YouTube are proving daily just how rewarding a YouTube channel with a clear strategy can be. Some of the success behind brand engagement on YouTube lies in brands understanding what their particular audience wants or needs to see and hear. What’s great about YouTube is the growth of niche groups – fashion and beauty to motoring and farming. These days it’s less about “is my audience on YouTube?” and more about “what is my audience creating and consuming on YouTube – and how can we tap into that?”.

There’s a variety of communities on YouTube and with a bit of creativity, brands can certainly reach theirs. Remember that viewers are willing to engage more with a brand that taps into the type of content they would like to see and creates conversations with them. Like every social platform, the key to success is listening to your audience, tuning into their actions and reactions and responding with content that resonates with them and factors in their interests and challenges.

The rewards of getting this right could be significant for brands, improving reach, presence, sentiment and ultimately, sales.