That Filipinos are a social media-crazy people is perhaps an understatement.
As early as 2008, Filipinos have consistently been among the most avid and cream of the crop users, according to McCann’s global WAVE3 study of people’s internet habits.
Yes, the predominantly agrarian and pre-industrial Philippines, long-starved of adequate landlines, plunged into the social web and have since enjoyed and excelled in it, making it their own and leveraging such mastery for business and causes, and in the last elections, to be an enabler in winning votes and support for candidates and parties.
This is confirmed by an infographic released by Yehey! Philippines and featured in this Asian Corrrespondent post:
There are many interesting nuggets of social media knowledge from this infographic and its cited sources.
For instance, on any given day, around 10 million Filipinos – or roughly 10 percent of the total population of the Philippines – would be online on Facebook!
socialbakers.com, a hub of Facebook statistics and analytics, also reports that the number of Filipino users of Facebook have grown rapidly and in a big way.
Currently at 21,759,280, the Filipinos on Facebook have grown by leaps and bounds: 32 percent compared to six months ago (an additional seven million registered users in half a year), and 2.5 million new users in the last month alone.
Comedian and TV personality Vice Ganda leads all other personalities in the number of fans (2.6 million). President Benigno Aquino III, whose communications team figured in an ugly incident with the original administrations of his Facebook Page, has 1.7 million fans.
The statistics churned out by socialbakers.com, of course, do not and cannot include the millions of Filipinos living and working abroad. The rough estimate of these overseas Filipino workers and expat Filipinos is at least 10 million, and they are credited for being one of the most powerful enablers of middle-class living in the country.
There is still no new data or studies on Twitter use in the Philippines, but we could look at how it has invaded primetime newscasts, and the 24-hour chatter among government officials and agencies, media, companies and the public, who have likewise gone to town with this microblogging phenomenon.
In 2009, Twitter figured as an powerful tool for information gathering and dissemination during and after supertyphoons Ondoy and Pepeng wrought havoc in many parts of the country. Corazon Aquino became a trending topic on her death, throughout her wake and during her historic funeral. By the next year, practically anything and everything that Filipinos loved became a trending topic. Just consider how Filipino Twitter users brought social media support to their beloved football team in their matches abroad, with their name Azkals landing as a trending topic for several days. Reliable traffic information in Manila is now just a tweet away.
2011 is just starting, and we can only imagine what Filipinos could achieve in and with social media (good governance? good laws? a better tourism program? more tech jobs? freer spread of information? tech for businesses and causes?) especially if and when we get better internet access. Even the good cause of #betterinternet may reap more victories with no small help from social media.
Let’s wait and see.