Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has expanded to almost all the corners of the world today. With a humble beginning from a dorm room in 2004, it has been quite a journey. South East Asia (SE Asia) has become the talk of the day on registering the maximum growth in user base and also the highest engagement on the social network. In 2008, when social media was booming across the world, SE Asia had less than 5 million registered users which attained a staggering figure of 108.7 million users in 2012. This was quite a feat and made the market analysts thinking for the most plausible reason for such a turnaround. In the early days of Facebook’s arrival into the SE Asia, Friendster had almost 25 times the number of Facebook users. In a short span of 4 years, the scenario overturned and Facebook had the maximum share of users in SE Asia. This behavior was attributed to the majority of youngsters in the population pool and also the social structure which has a greater sense of bonding. This fostered sharing and communication at an increased rate as compared to their counterparts in East Asia. It is also believed that, owing to their colonial history, the SE Asian community was more receptive to western culture which was strongly resisted by the East Asian nations as they preferred locally created products tailored specifically for their cultural attributes.
Insights into SE Asia user pattern
Earlier this month, Facebook released data on the use of digital content by the people of SE Asia (primarily Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines). It was reported that the people in these nations have switched on to a digital life with the introduction of affordable smartphones and increased penetration of wi-fi. It has become an integral part of life and people browse Facebook at all times of the day; during commute, internet cafes, at work, in bed and also often at work. However, the usage remains steady throughout all times of the day with spikes observed before or during prime time (after 8 pm). Since, TV has been a great medium for bonding among family members in this region, the TV viewership also saw a similar spike during prime time. In fact the surveyed people also committed to using Facebook while watching TV.
Discovery on Facebook is on the rise. Increasingly, people are using the Newsfeed to get access to breaking news, find new games, books, album, festival, shows or even hear about the latest brands launched by several large corporations. Around 50% – 60% of the surveyed population belonged to each category. This is a clear indication of the high level of engagement on the social network. Since Messenger has been released as a separate platform, communication has seen a huge boost. Almost 79% of users have accepted to have reduced their time on emails to a large extent and instead use Facebook for all communications. 68% users have cut down on their voice calls and 74% have reduced using SMS to a large extent. Overall 61% of the users claimed to use Facebook instead of any other mode of communication. This is a trend that is still evolving and will attain greater heights in the near future.
Increasing market potential
These statistics have a huge potential for building marketing strategies. The usage patterns indicate that Facebook can be one of the most effective platforms to reach out to customers as it has an all-day engagement. The impressive part here is that even during prime time people prefer to multitask instead of focusing solely on TV. In addition to strengthening its hold over the social media platform, it might be in the benefit of marketers to go multiscreen. When the same content is shared across multiple platforms, it gets embedded in the minds of users and that lasting impression is of greater impact for business. The extent to which Facebook is used as a discovery platform can be leveraged to foster local marketing. Also, global product launches can be made grander by utilizing such an active user base. Products; right from new brands to games, movies, books, albums, etc. can be promoted very effectively through Facebook in this region. This can be very useful in connecting to a new user base and also providing effective service to their older customers. In times when the world is going digital, this kind of a market, where a majority of the users engage in digital discovery is sure to make big bucks if utilized intelligently.
With such increased participation in the global market, SE Asia has crafted a niche which has great potential. It has also helped to secure a safe position in the future plans for development in this region. The way Facebook has captured over this market in the past few years has been quite an achievement. It will be very interesting to see how it creates greater turmoil in the global market by leveraging the ever-increasing user base and engagement patterns.