This feat is a first for a Zulu newspaper in South Africa and it dispels the myth that readers who prefer to consume their news in vernacular can't access them online. The Isolezwe
website was launched as a standalone in 2017 — after the newspaper had shown potential, while under parent website iol.co.za
In the first month of operation in December 2017, there were 119 926 users. Slindile Khanyile, the editor of Isolezwe
, says, "The biggest thank you goes to our readers, who are loyal and who appreciate that all we do is inspired by
them and is for
them. I have always maintained that we don't view online as competition — instead, we see it as a platform to augment our print offering."
"For the longest time, there was this untested and patronising belief that our readers did not want to consume news online and that they did not grasp how online worked," adds Khanyile.
"However, these website figures prove otherwise. Our readers may be largely low-income earners who prefer news in their mother tongue, but they are just as thirsty for knowledge and information and they yearn to improve their lives. There is so much more we still need to do using technology to improve people's lives," she says.
In 2018, the online community grew significantly on Facebook and Twitter, hence Isolezwe's
audience has adapted to how online content is delivered. The result is a half a million users, two months before the second anniversary of going live as a standalone site.
"In 2018, the Volt digital lab team did an outstanding job helping us understand our audience better, by sharing with the online editorial team what our audiences are mostly searching for when they go onto Google. This helped us establish what type of content Zulu-speaking people are looking for," Khanyile adds.
"Also, social media analytics play a huge role. Because of the high engagement, we get feedback on what works — another tool we use to grow online traffic," concludes Khanyile.
In January 2017, the Facebook page had about 85 000 followers / 'Likes'. Today, the figure stands at more than 270 000 followers, with engagement and reach in the millions in some months. Twitter has also risen significantly. This year, the publication has added Instagram and WhatsApp, which work as an 'in case you missed it' type of platforms.
Launched in 2002, the Isolezwe
print publication, which is a seven-day operation with weekend titles Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo
and Isolezwe ngeSonto
, is still just as strong. Second-quarter ABC figures showed that Isolezwe
daily sells 68 618 copies, while Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo
is holding its own with an average sale of 55 416 and Isolezwe ngeSonto
with 51 992.
For more information, visit www.isolezwe.co.za
. You can also follow Isolezwe on Facebook
or on Twitter