Snapshot of Social Networking in Malaysia

social networkingFacebook with 250 million users and these users are sharing over 10 billion photos. YouTube is streaming 1.2 billion videos a day, worldwide. The number of worldwide unique visitors of Twitter catapulted from 19 million in March 2009 to 32 million in April 2009 and each day, Twitter users are generating roughly 18 million updates. And according to comScore, social networking penetration rate worldwide was 65% in the month of May 2009, or 734.2 million Internet users across the globe accessing at least one social networking website during the month.

Malaysians love Social Networking too

There are about 16 million Internet users in Malaysia and IDC Research projected Malaysian Internet users will reach 20.4 million by 2012. In March this year, the number of Facebook users in Malaysia surpassed the one million mark. Kuala Lumpur SkylineRecently, a brief survey by YouthSays, Malaysia’s largest youth community website with over 160,000 members, showed 95% of a total of 900 respondents have Friendster’s account, 90% with Facebook and 38% with Twitter (This survey was presented at the recent Malaysian Media Congress 2009).

In Malaysia, the social networking penetration rate was 66.6% in December 2008 (see Table below), behind only to Singapore (74.3%) and South Korea (68%). See Table below.

Social Networking in Asian Countries
Country % Reach of Social Networking Average Minutes Per Visitor Average Visits Per Visitor
Singapore 74.3 175.6 19.1
South Korea 68.0 277.8 15.1
Malaysia 66.6 181.2 14.2
Hong Kong 62.8 127.7 13.7
India 60.3 110.4 10.4
Japan 50.9 72.8 9.9
Source: comScore World Metric, December 2008

In terms of Average Minutes Spent on Social Network(s) Per Visitor, Malaysia ranked second at 181.2 minutes after Korea (277.8 min) and ahead of Singapore (175.6 min), Hong Kong (127.7 min), India (110.4 min) and Japan (72.8 min).

Top Social Networks in Malaysia

Like elsewhere in the world, Facebook and Twitter are the superstars these days in Malaysia. Besides these two, what are the other popular social networks Malaysians spending their time these days? Alexa and Google Ad Planner can provide some answers. Alexa Traffic Rank measures website popularity and calculated using average daily visitors and pageviews over the past three months whereas Google Ad Planner is “based on an automated analysis of millions of search queries and site visits” and Unique Visitors refer to number of people visiting the site over a specific month.

Based on the Table below, Facebook is the top social network in Malaysia, followed by YouTube and Friendster. Twitter is the 8th most popular social network in Malaysia.

Top 10 Social Networks in Malaysia
No. Social Network Alexa Traffic Rank in Malaysia,
as of July 28 2009
Google Ad Planner’s Unique Visitors from Malaysia,
as of July 28 2009
1 Facebook 3 6,200,000
2 YouTube 4 not available
3 Friendster 8 4,200,000
4 MySpace 11 2,100,000
5 Tagged 12 1,800,000
6 Flickr 29 1,500,000
7 Photobucket 34 1,300,000
8 Twitter 38 750,000
9 Metacafe 48 910,000
10 Ning 82 690,000
Sources: Alexa and Google Ad Planner, 2009

Top Malaysian Social Networks

Despite the phenomenal popularity of Facebook, etc., there are a handful of Malaysian social networks offering localized contents and services. Some of the notable local social networks are Ruumz, eKawan, GoEatOut, Circles99, FriendX, eMeiMei and Pacmee.

So, how popular are these social networks? For a starter, these social networks are nowhere near global social network brands like Facebook and Friendster, in terms of Malaysian users. Launched in February 2009, Ruumz is today’s most popular Malaysia social network, followed by eKawan (social network for Malay-speaking community) and GoEatOut (dining guide-cum-social network). See Table below.

Top Malaysian Social Networks
No. Social Network Alexa Traffic Rank in Malaysia,
as of July 28 2009
Google Ad Planner’s Unique Visitors from Malaysia,
as of July 28 2009
1 Ruumz 1,687 36,000
2 eKawan 2,045 32,000
3 GoEatOut 2,666 22,000
4 Circles99 3,660 9,300*
5 Pacmee 19,444 7,700*
6 eMeiMei 21,360 7,000*
7 Friendx 22,971 not available
* refers to total worldwide Unique Visitors
Source: comScore World Metric, July 2009

Discussion

Facebook is replacing Friendster as Malaysian top social network; Facebook outranked Friendster in Alexa and also, Facebook with more unique visitors from Malaysia compared Friendster (Google Ad Planner). However, according to a Friendster Summary Fact Sheet posted on TechCrunch, the social network boasted a total of 2.1 million active users in Malaysia compared to 1.1 million Facebook users in Malaysia.Friendster

Malaysians are using global social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster compared to local social networks. Only a few countries are dominated by homegrown social networks, namely Mixi in Japan, Cyworld in Korea, QiQi in China, Cloob in Iran, Maktoob in Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai, Kuwait), StudiVZ in Germany, Hyves in The Netherlands, iWiW in Hungary, Nasza-Klasa in Poland, and Vkontakte.ru in Russia.

How do these local social networks compete? Sites like Pacmee, Friendx, eKawan and eMeiMei tied its social networks to mobile services and deliver value-added services e.g. posting photo via MM and receive status updates via SMS.

Ruumz offers different blend of value-added services on its social network. For example, online music subscription, photo printing and photobook services. With its unique brand positioning and services, Ruumz can differentiate itself in the local social networking scene.

But will it be able to dent Facebook’s armor? Quite unlikely in short-term. Rather than competing head-on with the social network giants, local social networks can thrive by offering different social networking experiences. Facebook and Friendster, for example, are typically broad-based type social network and offer culturally relevant experience is probably not their strong suit. Herein lies the opportunity for Malaysian social networks.

And maybe Malaysian social networks can learn something from the ascendancy of Old Town White Coffee, a Malaysian-based coffee chain. Amidst the crowded marketplace dominated by global brands like Starbucks and Coffee Beans, Old Town able to differentiate its offerings and capture marketshare in Malaysia (and elsewhere in Asia).

Conclusion

This article offers a snapshot of social networking activities and the popular social networks in Malaysia. The leading social networks are Facebook, YouTube and Friendster whereas top Malaysian social networks are Ruumz, eKawan and GoEatOut. Local social networks provide diversity in the social networking landscape and offer choices to Malaysians. Possibly, local players can eventually offer more culturally relevant social networking experiences with localized contents and services.

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42 Comments

  1. There are a lot of latent Friendster accounts, I don’t know how they classify ‘active’ accounts.

    But those regularly used, I’d say Facebook will beat out Friendster in raw numbers when it comes to real active users.

    Also remember the social network penetration stats are in terms of Internet/broadband penetration so in absolute figures Malaysia is still way behind because our Internet penetration is so low (broadband penetration is only 26% where Singapore is already at 89% by household).

    I think these stats are good:

    http://marketing-interactive.com/news/14153

  2. Nice review on social networking around the world and special highlight to social networking in Malaysia. Facebook is more entertainment base while twitter is more on text base. For teenager, there are more prefer on facebook and they will said twitter is kind of boring because it is full of text. Twitter is more preferable by user age from 25 above.

    Nice post btw.

  3. Good one. and you hit the nail on the head when you wrote “Facebook and Friendster, for example, are typically broad-based type social network and offer culturally relevant experience is probably not their strong suit. Herein lies the opportunity for Malaysian social networks”. We think so too, and this is one of the key differentiators for ruumz 🙂 We’re about 6 months old now, and tons we need to improve, and we will continue to do so. Next project will be 15Malaysia, where ruumz is the official online delivery partner 🙂 Watch for it – 17th August 2009

  4. Hey James

    Thanks for dropping by GreyReview and adding your comment. Also, the updates on what’s upcoming at ruumz.com. Looking forward to hear more from you guys in coming months.

    Cheers,
    YH Lim

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