Market Spotlight: Indonesia’s about face
Indonesia has nearly tripled its number of Facebook users over the past year, giving rise to a wave of digital marketing opportunities, writes Matt Eaton.
The growth of social media across Asia is a story many in the digital
world have viewed with much interest. But the growth of Facebook in South and Southeast Asia markets such as the Philippines, Malaysia, India and Singapore has been watched even more closely with web users flocking to the site in their millions.
In April last year, comScore World Metrix data showed social networking sites had reached 50% of Asia’s online population with Facebook taking a 15% share of that market.
While the April data showed the Philippines as Facebook’s fastest growing market (with an 84.5% share of net users), new data shows Indonesia is eclipsing its neighbouring and global cousins at breakneck speed.
In November, Inside Facebook, a web monitoring company, revealed Indonesia had nearly tripled its number of Facebook users over the past year, overtaking the UK as the second largest Facebook market behind the US.
Its growth, Inside Facebook says, underpins the site’s emerging strength in Southeast Asia – a region that has become strategic and rife with opportunities to push virtual goods and credits.
Indonesia is the world’s third largest democracy with a population of nearly 243 million. The country is made up of a patchwork of islands and is also home to the world’s largest Muslim population.
Recent data shows Indonesia boasts an internet population of about 45 million. A strong number for one of Asia’s emerging digital economies.
Facebook boasts almost a 67% penetration among the country’s internet users, according to the country’s ISP association and data on the company’s users there.
All indications show Indonesia’s younger generation are driving much of Facebook’s growth, but surprisingly the country’s senior political and religious figures are paying more attention to its networking power.
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono counts 485,500 fans on his Facebook page and some of the country’s top Muslim clerics, who were initially opposed to Facebook, MySpace and Friendster, have also started fan pages.
Inside Facebook says the social networking site’s mobile applications are playing an increasingly important role in Indonesia. While the iPhone leads Facebook’s mobile presence globally, in Indonesia, Nokia is the device manufacturer with dominant share in the country. BlackBerry and Android are also closing in.
“Anecdotally, developers tell us that social gaming is an important factor powering Facebook adoption in the region,” said Kim-Mai Cutler, a technology specialist at Inside Facebook.
“Facebook has moved to capitalise on that through a recent deal with Malaysian payments company MOL, which also has a presence in Indonesia.”
Indonesia promises to be one of Facebook’s key markets for years to come and marketers are approaching the site with enthusiasm.
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