Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address still managed to draw the attention of online crowds‚ despite being overshadowed by the news of paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s appearance in court.
Social media analysis company BrandsEye said that Zuma’s speech on Thursday managed to garner 49 000 online mentions compared with his 2011 speech which had 45 000 mentions.
BrandsEye CEO Taryn Walker said while build up to the day of the address still lends itself to chatter online‚ the significant majority of the conversation takes place on the day itself.
More than 41 000 of the almost 49 000 mentions were generated on Valentine's Day‚ and 60% of it was taking place on Twitter.
Online press sites generated a very small contribution towards the overall total and the remaining 39% of the conversation took place on Facebook.
Indicative of the way in which South Africans communicate online‚ the vast majority (70%) of the conversation was conducted in English and everyone was talking – from the average citizen to highly influential individuals such as Western Cape Premier Helen Zille‚ Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and radio personality DJ Fresh.
BrandsEye’s monitoring found that sentiment towards the speech was largely neutral on the day with online South Africans either merely reporting what was being said or hotly debating the issues without much reference to the content of the speech itself.
Emergent conversation themes from the online chatter included education‚ jobs‚ and corruption but it was women that took centre stage and in certain ways no one might have expected.
“The president's impassioned condemnation of violence against women in Zulu generated significant conversation with the hashtags #stoprape and #anenebooysen playing a prominent role in the social media space on the night‚” Walker said.
It was‚ however‚ the unintended consequence of scheduling the state of the nation on Valentine's Day that provided an unexpected and lighthearted trend in conversation online as many joked‚ commented or debated how the scheduling conflict meant the President might avoid having to choose between his wives on this traditional day of love.
"This year's address conversation was quite varied. There was frustration towards the issues with little comfort found in the content of the speech. There was passionate solidarity to put a stop to violence against women. And there was a bit of Valentine's Day fun for those not that keen to take it too seriously‚" Walker said.
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