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.

Indonesia-social-Media

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.

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