S.Africa businesses failing to embrace social media


FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organisations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment.

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“An analysis of the JSE Top 40 companies by market capitalisation, conducted by FTI Consulting, shows that only 25 per cent (10) used Twitter to share their interim, or final year results while a staggering 42 per cent (24) do not even have a Twitter handle,” said the report.


The report also said unlike traditional media such as newspapers and radio or TV that offer monologue communication Social media enabled anyone to create content and information and constant dialogue.

“In short, the difference can be summarised as ‘one-to-many’ versus ‘many-to-many’ communication. This new form of communication presents a whole new set of challenges and opportunities for a business, but it can’t be ignored,” added FTI Consulting.

The report on social media added that “customers use it. Investors use it. Employees use it. Potential new employees use it. Journalists use it. And there’s a good chance that some or all of these stakeholder groups are using social media to discuss your business.”

FTI Consulting warned that if companies that are not listening to, or participating in, these conversations with stakeholders were missing out on opportunities for insight and an opportunity to influence the outcomes.

Max Gebhardt, managing director and South Africa Head in the Strategic Communications segment of FTI Consulting, said it was unfortunate that digital media was increasingly becoming the preferred communication model by investors when JSE-listed companies still lagged far behind.

“At a time when investors say they find digital communication more insightful and more motivating than traditional communications, South African firms aren’t adapting to and using contemporary communication channels to speak to their stakeholders,” said Gebhardt.

“There is also very little uptake by South African corporates in using other digital media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube with which to bring their corporate stories to life. They are, as a result, losing share of voice and their communications remain analogue in a digital world,” Gebhardt added.

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According to the South Africa Social Media Landscape 2014 research study by World Wide Worx and Fuseware, Twitter saw the highest percentage growth among the major social networks, from 2.4 million to 5.5 million, showing 129 per cent growth in 12 months.

The research released today by FTI Consulting shows that the best JSE users of Twitter also employ a variety of social media platforms to communicate information directly to stakeholders regarding their financial and corporate performance.

A minority use hashtags effectively when communicating their financial results to provide context to the numbers. However, many JSE companies that have a Twitter handle are not using it to its full potential.

“Our research found that the majority of those companies that do have a Twitter handle use the social media platform merely as a distribution network, tweeting links to a static, text-heavy press release on their websites. These companies are failing to appreciate that Twitter is not a medium for distributing press releases, but a platform to engage in discussions,” Gebhardt continued.