South Africa enjoys a positive online reputation among international internet users, with many of the online conversations about the country reflecting a highly positive tone.
That is one of the key findings of an analysis of South Africa’s online reputation during August conducted by Acceleration Media using the online reputation management tool, Radian6. The tool uncovered about 530,000 discussions about South Africa across social and news media during the month.
Of these, about 11% were strongly positive in tone and only 2% were negative. The balance was neutral, reflecting the simple sharing of links and news among social media users. Many of the conversations centred around discussion of South Africa as a destination for investment, tourism and trade, says Gordon Geldenhuys, Online Reputation Management Product Manager at Acceleration Media.
“Our analysis of online conversation shows that there is a lot of goodwill towards South Africa in the international market,” he adds. “This bodes well for the country in the years to come as it looks to attract more tourism and investment.”
South Africans are also mostly positive about their country. Of the 60,000 conversations about the country tracked among South African users, 14% reflected positive sentiment and only 2% were negative in tone.
Geldenhuys says that many of the international conversations took place in richer online channels rather than in micromedia channels such as Twitter.About 21% of the conversations tracked took place in blogs and 14% on Facebook, compared to 39% on Twitter.
Channels such as forums, news sites and news aggregators account for the rest of the discussion. By contrast, 71% of the conversations about South Africa by South Africa took place on Twitter as users shared links and information with each other.
“This reflects the different information needs of South African and international internet users,” says Geldenhuys. “International users are hungry for more detailed information and richer media – including images and video – as they plan for a trip to South Africa or share their experiences of the country with other people.”
South African users, by contrast, are mostly sharing relevant information with each other using the quickest and easiest channel at their disposal.
Geldenhuys says that this is an important insight for tourism bodies and companies in the hospitality industry who want to market themselves to international tourists.
In addition to a presence on Twitter and Facebook, they should make use of platforms that enable them to distribute richer media and more detailed information to tourists. They should also ensure that it is easy for users to share this information among themselves.
“In the tourism space, social media is about sharing a journey or telling a story – it’s not just about distributing information,” says Geldenhuys.
Geldenhuys says that South Africa has many online evangelists spreading its message in the tourism and trade, which is a great position for any brand to be in. However, if trade and tourism authorities and local companies became more involved in the conversation, they could help to shape an even better reputation for the country.