Philippines named social networking capital of the world
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Philippines named social networking capital of the world

Asia dominates the world’s biggest social networking markets according to research from blog 24/7 Wall Street who compiled a list of countries where Facebook penetration (usage per population) is highest.

The Philippines tops the list with 93.9 percent of the nation reportedly signed up to Facebook, the full list is below with the summary from each Southeast Asian market following.

  1. Philippines 93.9%
  2. Israel 91%
  3. Turkey 90.9%
  4. Chile 90.2%
  5. Argentina 89.2%
  6. Malaysia 88.4%
  7. Indonesia 87.5%
  8. Peru 87.2%
  9. Colombia 86.9%
  10. Venezuela 86.2%

What is interesting is just how high Twitter usage amongst the three Southeast Asia countries while LinkedIn remains particularly low.

1. Philippines

> Facebook: 93.9%

> Twitter: 16.1%

> LinkedIn: 1.9%

> Internet Use: 29.7%

Social network penetration is incredibly high in the Philippines, reaching 95%.  Facebook is the country’s most popular website, more so than Google, and has a penetration rate of 93.9%.  The Philippines is also the eighth most popular country for Twitter use on a global scale, with a penetration rate of 16.1%.  The popularity of photo sharing has increased by 46% in the country in one year, largely due to Facebook.  Social networking is so popular among Filipinos, the country has been nicknamed “The Social Networking Capital of the World.”

6. Malaysia

> Facebook: 88.4%

> Twitter: 10.8%

> LinkedIn: 2.9%

> Internet Use: 64.6%

Malaysia has the second-highest social network penetration in Southeast Asia, with 91%. One of the most increasingly popular social-networking activities in the country is photo-sharing on sites such as Facebook. From 2009 to 2010, the popularity of online photo-sharing increased by 57% in Malaysia. This is the second greatest percentage among Southeast Asian countries.

7. Indonesia

> Facebook: 87.5%

> Twitter: 22.0%

> LinkedIn: 1.3%

> Internet Use: 12.3%

Social network penetration in Indonesia is the third greatest in Southeast Asia as of the beginning of 2011, at 90% of those people online. According to comScore, the country’s high adoption rates are due “almost exclusively” to Facebook. In January 2011, 22% of Indonesian Internet users visited Twitter, the fourth-greatest share among all countries. Indonesia, however, has the smallest percentage of Internet users among the countries on this list — 12.3%.

While the  blog claims that “there is no obvious explanation” to explain why most of the 10 markets are developing, based in Latin America or Southeast Asian countries, I might hazard an explanation.

For Asia, and to a lesser extent Latin America, Facebook was able to tap into an existing understanding and usage of social networking, which helped bring in large user numbers over a relatively short time.

To explain, in many of these top 10 markets (and particularly in Asia) social networking began as Facebook became popular, with services like Friendster and Hi5 the first to garner a sizeable audience at the same time that Facebook was beginning its early growth in the US, UK and other western markets.

Once Facebook’s word-of-mouth got beyond these western areas and into Asia around 2008/2009, social networkers were already well established (as a genre) meaning that users began began abandoning Friendster, Hi5 and others they had been using in favour of Facebook, large numbers of already established peer networks moved over them building huge momentum and awareness in their markets.

Equally, Facebook users were moving to Facebook because it was better – games, features, etc – and not just because they were trying it out, so users in Asia were generally more loyal, motivated and spent more time using it.

Compare that to the US and UK where Facebook was the first, well known social network to emerge. It was tasked with not only promoting its product, but establishing social networking as a popular habit in the first place.

The argument may also justify why Twitter and LinkedIn have far less market share in these countries as both services are the front-runners for microblogging and business social networking (respectively), and thus do not tap into a ‘ready made market’. Though clearly neither has the mass market appeal of Facebook, which is a major explanation for their lower usage.

As a market, Asia is particularly well known for online sites and sharing with forums and other types of services long popular in many countries, before the term social network had ever been coined.

I’ve not had the opportunity to check through the figures yet but the Philippines is often heralded as the Facebook Capital of the World, while Indonesia and Malaysia are equally as well known for strong social media usage.

UPDATE: as raised in comments, although The Philippines has the highest proportion of users per population, Indonesia’s capital Jakarta has the largest Facebook population of any city in the world (17.5 million users).