Events at President Jacob Zuma’s 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA) have dominant the local social media front, with talk of the chaos that erupted in parliament still prevalent nearly a week later. South Africans were left shocked by scenes at SONA 2015, where EFF parliamentary members were forcibly removed from the Assembly, and DA members staged a walkout over the use of armed security personnel.
In the week following the events, several online platforms have been abuzz with viewer reactions. Social media analyst, Kai Botha said one of the key aspects noticed was the sheer increase in volume of SONA-conversation, compared to 2014’s address.
“There was actually quite a significant increase in conversation. We are looking at about a 475% increase. So a lot more people are talking about SONA this year,” he stated.
Putting that statistic into numbers, he said that whilst the previous year’s address yielded around 70 000 Facebook and Twitter posts, this year’s edition attracted around 406 000 posts. These statistics were leading up two weeks prior to the address, meaning that interest was at an all time high even before events at parliament.
Botha attributed this increase in interest to a growth in the social media market, as well as a decent amount of hype from EFF members, who had earlier made threats to disrupt the president’s speech.
“People were anticipating conflict. They were anticipating some drama in parliament, so I think it’s a combination of those two things that led to quite a significant increase this year,” he claimed.
Despite the major increase, Botha said a large part of the sentiment remained negative. Prior to the speech, 47% of all social media discussions were of negative sentiment, with the remaining 53% taking a neutral stance. On the actual day, as well as two days after the event, the negative sentiment saw a small decrease, down to 42%.
“You must remember that the majority of that negative sentiment was fluctuating on the actual day, particularly between 7pm and 8pm when we had the whole debacle with the EFF being escorted out, and the DA walkout,” he explained.
Although the results detail a global perspective, at least half of the activity came from within South Africa. 60% of this conversation came from Gauteng, in contrast to 25% in the Western Cape. South Africa was followed by the United Kingdom and the USA in overall SONA discussion via social media. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)