• Leading up to the 2019 elections, social media was widely used by political parties and their members to further their agendas.
  • But the noise on social media is not a good barometer for real-life constituency.
  • Business Insider South Africa compared social media followers with actual results - and found that the EFF is punching way above its weight. 
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa for more stories.

The 2019 South African general elections have been described as the most hotly contested yet, with a record-breaking 48 political parties participating.

Leading up to the elections, Twitter was a hot arena for campaigning - but, as Business Insider SA found, social media is not a barometer for party support. 

We compared the final election results to social media followers. 

Also read: Investors were eerily accurate in predicting the election results

While the EFF has more Twitter followers (755,000) than the ANC (659,000), the ANC has roughly 100,000 more followers on Facebook than the EFF. 

The DA also has 83,307 more followers on Facebook than the EFF, but 15,000 fewer than the ANC.

If the elections took place according to social media followings, the ANC would’ve received 30.7%, the EFF 30.68%, and the DA 27.72%. 

The EFF’s support is, therefore, hugely exaggerated on social media, compared to the 10.79% they received in the actual ballot. And, the ANC underappreciated. 

The UDM, who’s support decreased to only 0.45% in the general election, would’ve received 5.35% of the vote on social media. 

The VF plus would’ve received 2.28%, compared to their actual result of 2.38%. 

The South African Capitalist Party (ZACP) - also known as the "Purple Cow party" - actually received fewer votes than its social media followers.

It has a combined social media following of 18,206 on Facebook and Twitter, but only managed to receive a total of 15,914 votes in the elections.

In total, political parties have close to 3.9 million combined followers on Twitter and Facebook, while 17.1 million South Africans voted in the general elections. 

South African Twitter followers represent almost 12% of the 17.1 million registered South African voters.

An estimated 54% of South Africa’s population is connected to the internet, Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital in 2019 report found.

Also read: South African internet users spend much more time online than Americans and Europeans

Of the 54%, roughly 82% have logged onto Facebook the past month and 42% on to Twitter.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: