Friendster Growth Gaining Traction After Relaunch in Asia

friendster logo

The new Friendster was launched on June 28 this year, with a focus on delivering more Asia-centric gaming contents. At the same time, it aims to enable games publishers and developers to tap into the vibrant Asian gaming markets. As part of the relaunch, Friendster unveiled a new logo and moved its business operations from the U.S. to Asia (operates mainly from three Asian countries namely in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore).

Since the relaunch, the pioneering social network Friendster is showing positive signs of rejuvenation. So far, the social network has attracted over half a million new users and now includes over 40 premium games and hundreds of free-to-play games and applications. More interestingly, the relaunch has breathed life into its Monthly Active Users and Daily Active Users, which have increased by 50%, to date.

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Pioneering social network Friendster initiated countdown to reincarnation

Friendster Exporter

The pioneering social network, Friendster, has started to request its members to start exporting their details using its Friendster Exporter. Members can export data, including your profile information, your friends list, your photos, messages, comments, testimonials, shoutouts, blogs and groups.

By May 31 2011, all the photos, messages, comments, testimonials, shoutouts, blogs, forums and groups that you may have now will no longer be part of your account.most of these data will be deleted. However, Friendster accounts will be NOT be deleted. The social network will preserve users’ ID, basic information, friends’ list and wallet and migrate them to the upcoming iteration of Friendster.

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To Revitalize Friendster, Just Blend Together Microtransactions, Social Games, Music and a Fair Dose of Luck

friendster_logoFriendster started looking for buyers in July 2009. On 10 December 2009, the once leading social network is acquired by Malaysia’s MOL Group. No financial details were announced. However, in July this year, TechCrunch estimated Friendster to worth around US$137 million. (UPDATE: TechCrunch reported Friendster valued at $26.4 Million in sales)

Why buy Friendster? According to the new MOL/Friendster Group CEO Ganesh Kumar Bangah, it’s because of its “strong South East Asia base… very focus, has a very strong following in Malaysia.” He believed “right localization,” in terms of features, contents and applications, is Friendster’s competitive strategy. Ultimately, he envisioned Friendster as South East Asia-centric community, a platform for Asian-ized contents and applications.

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Through My Window, I Can See A Silhouette of A Social Media Campaign

EveryoneConnectsA Green Day-esque song played on radio this morning, titled Through My Window (click to play), with artist name undisclosed but DJ @rudyculously mentioned a website address, On the website, there’s not much information except the MP3 file of the song (available for free download), together with the song lyric. Its “What’s the Buzz?” box is displaying Twitter updates stream. Also, there are links to its Twitter, Facebook and Friendster profile pages. And this phrase is seen at the bottom of the page, “Everyone Connects is about getting people to communicate & collaborate because when everyone’s connected, anything is possible.”

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What’s Now, What’s Next for Social Networking: Ian Stewart, Friendster (with audio clips)

Ian Stewart, Head of Asia, Friendster gave a keynote address at the recent Social Media World Forum Asia in Singapore. From his presentation, we can learn that Friendster is positioning themselves as the social network for youth. That’s why his presentation is packed with data from MTV survey on online activities of young people. Some of his predictions for social networks in 2010 are more focus on teens & tweens, virtual currencies, social shopping, more monetization models and cross platform aggregation (see below for complete list).

He also mentioned Twitter in 2006 is the “last time there has been a significant web application that comes along the social media space and captivated the whole world.” Interesting observation. Anyway, here are audio snippets from his keynote, accompanied by his slides.

Overview of Social Media landscape



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My Crystal Ball Says 866,280 Twitter Users in Malaysia by 2013

social networkingThere are now more than 1 million users of Facebook in Malaysia. Friendster said there are 2.2 million active Malaysian users on its social network. Now, what about Twitter? In December 2008, TwitterFacts estimated a total of 3,429 Twitter users in Malaysia. I believe the number has increased since then.

Let’s look elsewhere for hints, clues and indications. WeFollow, a user-generated Twitter Directory by Kevin Rose, where users self-tagged to a set of 3 keywords to describe themselves. There are only 274 users who tagged themselves to ‘malaysia’ but I’m quite sure the figure doesn’t reflect the current total Malaysians on Twitter.

TwitterCounter and Twitter Grader directories also offer listing of Twitter users by country. Unfortunately, Grader only list Top 50 users whereas TwitterCounter limits its listing to 10,020 profiles, per location. TwitterCounter says it is tracking 3.9 million unique Twitter users and yes, a search of ‘malaysia’ returns 10,020 Twitter usernames.

There are two ‘live’ directories, which are indexing Twitter users – TwitDir and Twellow. At the time of this posting, TwitDir has a total of 4,013,391 accounts and 2,231 of them with ‘Malaysia’ within their location detail. Twellow called itself Twitter Yellow Pages and it categorizes Twitter users into various categories, based on bio details. Currently, there are a total of 6.6 million Twitter profiles in its database. At the time of this posting, a search of ‘malaysia’ yields a total of 7,766 accounts.

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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%).

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Social Media Marketing and Malaysia’s Biggest Brands

Social technologies enable the creation of conversational platform for businesses to engage in richer interactions with customers. Traditional mass media lacks interactivity and information flow is dominantly unidirectional, from brand owners to consumer.

However, the new social media enables consumers to connect with one another and brand owners to co-create brand experience. Global corporations like Procter & Gamble, Dell, Coca Cola and many others are already adopting social media as part of their brand building infrastructure.

What about Malaysia’s biggest brands? Are they using social technologies? How are they using the conversational media to listen and interact with their customers?

To answer the questions, I’ve investigated social media plays of companies listed in Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands (MMVB) 2007, created by the Malaysian Association of Accredited Advertising Agents, in collaboration with Interbrand. This exercise involves searching for the brand names in social networks (Facebook, Friendster, MySpace), video-sharing site (YouTube), online photo-sharing site (Flickr) and microblogging (Twitter, FriendFeed). The results are presented in the “Social-ize the Brands” table below.

Notes to the table:

  • “Rank” is the actual ranking in MMVB 2007.
  • Giant and Dutch Lady, which appeared in MMVB 2007, were omitted as both are non-Malaysian brands.
  • Only initiatives created by brand owners are considered to provide a better indication on the importance of social media marketing to the brand owners.
  • For more on how MMVB’s Brand Value is calculated, read here.

Social-ize the Brands: How Malaysia’s Most Valuable Brands are Embracing Social Media

Rank Brand Industry Brand Value, US$ Million Social Media Marketing
1 Maybank Financial 2,764 All You, All New Blog
2 Public Bank Financial 1,967 None
3 Maxis Telecoms 1,521 Maxis Facebook Group | Maxis Communications Facebook Fan | Hotlink Facebook Group
4 Genting Leisure 1,315 Genting City of Entertainment Facebook Group | Genting WorldCard Facebook Group
5 Celcom Telecoms 1,167 Celcom Facebook Fan
6 CIMB Financial 981 None
7 Astro Media 946 AstroTV on Twitter | StadiumAstro on Twitter | AstroFootball on Twitter | Stadium Astro Facebook Fan Page | Astro Chinese Programmes Channel on YouTube | Astromalaysia’s Channel on YouTube
8 Hong Leong Financial 888 Hong Leong Bank, HLLB Facebook Group
9 Perodua Automobile 700 Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd Facebook Fan
10 DiGi Telecoms 600 DiGi Facebook Group Page | DiGi Telecommunications Facebook Fan | DiGi’s Open Hearts Open Mind Program | DiGi D’podCast | DiGi Yellow Coverage on YouTube | DiGi Desktop Agent
12 Malaysia Airlines Airline 493 Living Malaysian Hospitability Blog | Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan | MASwings Facebook Fan | MASwings Facebook Group | MAS Charter Flight Attendants Facebook Group | MH = Malaysian Hospitality Channel on YouTube
13 Sime Darby Property 437 Sime Darby Facebook Group
14 TV3 Media 315 MyTV3 Roverz Facebook Group
15 Petronas Oil and Gas 264 Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) Facebook Group | Galeri Petronas Facebook Group | Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra Facebook Page
16 YTL Property 210 YTL Climate Change Week Facebook Fan | YTL Community Channel on YouTube
17 RHB Bank Financial 187 RHB Bank Facebook Group
18 Ambank Financial 187 None
19 AirAsia Airline 95 Just Plane Thoughts AirAsia Blog | Tony Fernandes CEO Blog | “ Travel Wish List” Facebook Application | AirAsia Facebook Fan Page | AirAsia Air Crew Facebook Group | AirAsiaGroup Enthusiasts Facebook Group | AirAsiaGroup Channel on YouTube | AirAsia Vista Gadget
20 The Star Media 91 Citizen’s Blog
22 Kurnia Financial 83 None
23 Proton Automobile 68 Corporate Comm @Proton Facebook Group | Corporate Comm Proton Facebook Fan
24 MAA Financial 67 None
25 Affin Bank Financial 65 None
26 Padini Fashion 61 None
27 Parkson Retail 36 None
28 Sunway Property 25 None
29 Mamee-Double Decker Food and Beverage 25 None
30 Bonia Fashion 22 None

Some Observations

  1. Big brands adopting social media marketing
    • About 60% of Malaysia’s most valuable brands are leveraging social utilities like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
  2. Conversations with AirAsia
    • The budget airline has the most interesting and purposeful usage social media marketing tools and are ‘designed’ to engage with its target audience.
  3. User-generated content
    • AirAsia is tapping into the power of bloggers with its blog, “Just Plane Thoughts.” Besides contents posted by 16 AirAsia bloggers, the site also encourages its readers to post their travel stories and comments. Although the blog is moderated, negative customer comments also get posted. Newspaper The Star also allows its readers to post up contents on its Citizen’s Blog site.
  4. Conversational vs Informational
    • AirAsia’s blog is more conversational than its competitor Malaysia Airlines’ Living Malaysian Hospitality, which is geared towards providing corporate news.
  5. Facebook rules
    • The fast-growing social network is by far the most used social utility among the biggest brands in Malaysia, followed by YouTube. Facebook ranked 8th in Malaysia’s Alexa Top 100 Sites; YouTube ranked 4th (as of Oct 19 2008).
  6. Tweet with Astro
    • The use of Twitter is gaining popularity among enterprises. Astro, the subscription-based satellite TV provider, is the one and only Malaysia’s big brand on Twitter.
  7. Bank with blog
    • Malaysia’s largest bank, Maybank, is the first Malaysian bank with a blog; uses its “AllYou” blog to complement its online banking site,
  8. Blogging CEO
    • Tony Fernandes of AirAsia is the only Most Valuable Brand’s CEO with a blog.
  9. Not-so-social lifestyle
    • Consumer-oriented retail brand, Parkson and apparel brands – Bonia and Padini – are notably missing in the social media sphere.
  10. Financial-ly not social-able
    • Financial institutions dominated the MMVB list, with 32% representation. However, out of the eleven big brands that are not using social media, six of them (or 54%) are from the financial industry.
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