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June 15th, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social media across Asia : Indonesia

Indonesia, the 4th largest country in the world and one of the most populous also happens to be a huge social media fan. The nation is particularly obsessed with Twitter and is home to the 2nd highest number of users in Asia, according to comSCORE. A staggering 20.8% of internet users in Indonesia visited Twitter.com in January. It is estimated that Indonesian users make up for 15% of all tweets globally and are the sixth biggest twitter user base in the world.

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As for facebook, Indonesia has the 2nd highest number of users in the world. This isn’t surprising as internet is mostly used for social networking, photo sharing and watching videos by Indonesia netizens. A breakdown of the trending topics from January 2011 shows that conversations online mostly revolve around entertainment including soccer, music, television shows etc.

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Source : Silang Silang

However, social media has also evolved into another role, that of a social watchdog. Indonesians are harnessing their social networks to speak out about everyday issues including politics and civic issues. For instance, when Michelle Obama shook hands with a conservative Muslim minister on an official visit to the country, this seemingly small incident sent the twitter sphere buzzing with many criticizing the minister and accusing him of being hypocritical to traditional Islamic customs.

In another case, when the Social Services minister was spotted driving his car in a dedicated ‘bus only lane’, an alert passerby promptly snapped a photo and uploaded it on twitter. More than 10000 views and numerous angry comments later, the minister responded accepting full responsibility and agreeing to pay the fine voluntarily. A more positive example is the “Save Jakarta” movement on twitter which encourages ordinary citizens to point out problems they were facing in the city everyday and make suggestions for improvement. This became an instant viral hit and empowered faceless online citizens to take charge of their city.

Interestingly, internet users in Indonesia surf the net and connect with each other more using their smartphones, the main reason being that it’s cheap! With the three main telecommunications companies in the country constantly butting heads over market share, service plans are very affordable especially in comparison to home broadband plans which can cost up to $100 monthly. Coupled with the advent of affordable smartphones from China, Indonesian users are spoilt for choice.

Currently, there are 31 million users who make up an eighth of the 242 million strong population. By 2015, this is predicted to rise to 94 million users. It goes without  saying that marketers are taking full advantage of this new medium to reach out to all sections of the population.

June 2nd, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Twitter-Tweetdeck : It’s official

After a few weeks of ‘will they-wont they’ speculation about Twitter and tweetdeck, it was officially confirmed last week. Twitter is all set to acquire Tweedeck, a third party interface, for $40 million US (SGD $49.8 million)

Tweetdeck is a start up based in London that allows users to customize their tweeting experience by integrating twitter with other social platforms such as foursquare and facebook onto a single dashboard, enabling them to “tweet like a pro“. Although the startup could not turnover a profit until now, endorsements from the likes of celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, has made it very popular among twitter users.

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Throughout May, there was a lot of discussion online regarding the potential takeover. In the last few days, since it was made official, there is still a lot of buzz proving how popular tweetdeck is among twitter users. In the span of 4 days, the JamiQ social media monitoring tool recorded close to 1600 entries with the buzz peaking on May 26th, the day after the deal was announced.

As for how people feel about this so called social media shake-up, we can look to the sentiment analysis.

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For the most part, the online community expressed mixed feelings about the deal with some stating that the “Tweetdeck deal may signal Twitter becoming less open” while others were questioning whether Twitter would eliminate Tweetdeck altogether (they did buy tweetdeck…. to kill or not to kill………… that is the ?… i do hope they keep it. OR learn from it. @twitter). Others were outright negative taking jabs at the platform itself, with one user sayingTwitter doesn’t seem to do a terribly good job with their own apps. No wonder they had to buy Tweetdeck and others. Another chimed in with “If Twitter had 40 mil to buy tweetDeck, they should have the money to hire some decent coders”

And as usual, the ones with a lighter view brought some humour to the discussion, adding that “#RandomThoughts Glad that @Twitter got to buy @TweetDeck. Now we know who to blame when mentions insist on not loading”

June 1st, 2011 by Mythreyi Krishnan under Commentary

Social media across Asia : China

In countries across Asia, young people have made similar number friends offline as they have made online. But, in China, youngsters actually have made a larger pool of friends online as a combination of socio-economic factors coupled with higher rate of internet penetration has led to a union of online and offline lives. Due to rural-urban migration many youngsters are separated from their families and find social networking a convenient way to keep in touch with those back home. Another reason often cited is the one child policy which has resulted in most young people growing up in single child homes. Social media has given them a chance to connect to people and share information on a daily basis.

Note that compared to internationally popular sites like facebook, myspace, YouTube and twitter, home-grown social networking sites are used heavily by the Chinese population. After the government disabled these platforms, numerous home-grown clone sites sprung up catering to various segments of the market. Some sites are more popular among 1st tier cities while others cater to 2nd and lower tiered cities. Accordingly, preference varies according to age as well. Techrice used their data to come up with the distribution across segments shown below.

China segmented

Qzone : Launched in 2005, this is the biggest site in terms of number of users which ranges anywhere between 300-480 million registered users according to various reports. Users are able to write blogs, keep an online diary and listen to music. This site is most popular among 2nd tier and 3rd tier cities in China.

Pengyou : Launched by the same company as Qzone, Pengyou meaning “friend” caters to both students and white collar workers. Pengyou is a networking platform for friends in real life whereas Qzone is mostly a network for instant messaging friends on QQ, the most popular IM platform in China.

Renren : this site has around 160 million registered users and is still growing. It is very popular among young people in 1st and 2nd tier cities, especially university students. It started off as Xiaonei.com, and was considered a carbon coby of Facebook with similar layout and the trademark shade of blue. Now, Renren has gained its own place in the social media space in China with 31 million active users monthly. In April 2011, it filed for an IPO in the US offering shares on the NYSE raising over US$743 million dollars.

Kaixin001: Another facebook clone that became one of the fastest growing sites in China by launching apps and games that is available on facebook. Kaixin, unlike Renren is targeted at the white collar worker who spends upto 9 hours in front of the computer each day. Accordingly the user interface is simpler and designed to be more intuitive to use.

Some unique usage patterns

  • Chinese netizens are the most likely to share a negative product review online. 62% of them attested to this compared to the global average of 41%
  • Personal: 1. Staying in touch is the most frequent use of social media 2.Read content 3.Make new friend
  • Business use: 1. Highlight personal expertise 2. Build network contacts  3. Identify lead
  • Chinese state-owned companies have been a late and slow adopter of social media compared to Chinese private firms and foreign subsidiaries in China.

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According to a report last year, China has close to 460 million internet users with 34.3% internet penetration. This is up 19.1% from 2009 and still growing. With such a massive pool of potential consumers, the scope for monitoring is boundless. Web analytics is still shaky in China but monitoring what this community says about your brand is essential for any company.  According to a Nielson poll, Chinese netizens are the most likely to share a negative product review online, 62% of them attested to this compared to the global average of 41%. With stats like these, it would be prudent to have a constant eye on one of the most lucrative online communities in the world.

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