Facebook in Asia: A Growth Story (2011)

In 2011, Facebook added 69 million new Asian users in 2011. The social networking giant with $100 billion valuation started 2011 with 112 million Asian users and ended the year with 181 million users.

However, its quarterly growth has been sliding steadily in 2011, from 17% in Quarter 1 to 8% in Quarter 4. In Quarter 4 2010, it was growing at 21%.

2010 was the year when Facebook went on hyper-drive growth on users acquisition front in Asia. However, 2011 was the year when Facebook downshifted a gear or two. The decline is expected to continue as many Asian nations are reaching saturation level.

Table 1: Quarterly Growth of Facebook Population in Asia 2011
Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
+17% +15% +11% +8%
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Facebook in Asia: Latest Stats on Total Users by Country [Quarter 3 2011]

Facebook now has over 800 million users worldwide, with 168 million are from Asia. In Quarter 3 this year, Facebook added 16.8 million new users in Asia (compared to 19.5 million in Quarter 2 2011). So far this year, the social network has added some 56 million new users; it started the year with 111 million Asian users. Its latest quarter-on-quarter growth rate is 11%. However, the rate has been somewhat slowing since end of 2010 – from 24% in Quarter 4 2010 to 17% Q1’11 to 15% Q2’11 to 11% Q3’11.

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I wonder what’s up with Plurk (yeah, that microblogging site with a timeline)

Remember Plurk? During the heyday of the Fail Whale on Twitter, the microblogging service offered a much needed alternative. Plurk was founded in 2008 by Alvin Woon (Malaysian) and Amir Salihefendic (Danish) in Toronto, Canada. When it was launched, its timeline-style display of updates captured much attention. However, with the rapid ascendancy of Twitter in the past several years, Plurk seems to recede from the media limelight. Of course, some may still remember the fiasco back in 2009, where Plurk accused Microsoft China of “blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements.”

Plurk is still popular in Asia (especially East Asia). According to co-founder Woon, Plurk is now one of the high-traffic social networks in Asia. It has over 6 million registered users and the majority of them are from Asia – – Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan. Plurk, which runs predominantly on a Python, JavaScript and MySQL stack, has over 400,000 active users daily and 200,000 concurrent users at any give time of a day). These users generated millions of plurks each day.

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The Illustrated Brief History (sort-of) of Social Networking

This is a fun set of illustrations of the evolution of social networking. It is commissioned by PeopleBrowsr, in celebration of the Advertising Research Foundation’s 75th anniversary. Not comprehensive, but somewhat, informative. From 1930 to 2011, highlights include:

  • 1930: The Notificator.
  • January 1978: Computer Bulletin Board System.
  • 1989: World Wide Web invented.
  • 1989: Online gaming service Quantum Link changed name to America Online.
  • 2003: The launch of Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn.
  • 2004: “The Facebook” was launched.
  • 2006: Twitter launched.
  • 2008: Burger King viral video.
  • 2010: First tweet from space.
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Fastest Growing Asian Countries on Facebook

These new figures are compared to the figures extracted in March 01 2010. Refer to table below: South Korea with the largest increase of 65%, between March 01 2010 and June 01 2010. Other countries with double-digit growth rate are Thailand with 28.3%, India 27.7%, Japan 21%, Pakistan 12.9%, Malaysia 12.3%, and Vietnam 10.4%. Compared to figures extracted in March 01 2010, total Facebook users in Indonesia and Taiwan have shown decline (not sure if it’s really declining or errors in figures extracted from Facebook.com or something else).

Between March and June this year, Thailand replaced Hong Kong as the sixth largest Facebook users in Asia, Pakistan replaced Singapore in no. 8 spot, and South Korea jumped from no. 13 to no. 11, replacing Vietnam. Also, Malaysia is fast approaching Taiwan to become the fourth largest Asian country on Facebook.

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Enter the Echelon starring cool web startups and thought leaders in Asia. Coming soon

enter the echelon 2010Unconference Singapore is now called echelon. The annual web technology event, organized by the e27 gang, features mind-boggling combination of conference, panel discussions, pitching sessions and exhibitions. This year, topics to be covered include social gaming, cloud computing, location-based services, social networking, social media and socialTV.

Last year, I particularly enjoyed trolling the exhibition area for startups, which featured 30 awesome startups – iTwin and SocialWok – both went on to be featured on TechCrunch50 2009; iTwin, one of TC50 Finalists and SocialWok, winner of Demopit – Malaysian startups (Elevyn and Foldees), and others include Klout, eJamming Audiio, Fame, Orsiso, ThoughtBuzz and PieceHunters. The Startup Pitches session was great too and last year’s featured 8 startups – Countspin (US), iTwin (Singapore), Frenzoo (Hong Kong), Human Network Labs (Singapore), Socialwok (Singapore), Genkii (Japan), among others.

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Orsiso Is Getting Good At Aggregating Status and Photo Streams

OrSiSo logoOrsiso (or Organize, Simplify, Socialize) offers a functional approach to manage the deluge of your social networking and messaging online. It acts like a social streams dashboard, which aggregates and organizes status/photo streams (from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Bebo, Friendster) and messaging (from popular IM networks like Messenger, Yahoo!, Google Talk). In the past weeks, Orsiso has been quick in releasing new version; each version update with new interface design and performance. Previous versions, buttons were lumpy, design was noisy and user-interface was not so, shall I say, spritely. Using it for the past 4 months, I must say the latest version 1.1.36 spot a more organized interface, more minimalist and much more perky.

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Twitter vs Facebook Face/Off For #EveryoneConnects

face-offEnd of Day 3 for EveryoneConnects, the website has more than 18,000 visits (as mentioned on its Facebook Page). It started on Monday with a mysterious song ‘Through My Window’, being played over the airwaves. The following day, it made the headline in The Star newspaper. Day 3, blurred images appeared on the website; likely the band singing the song.

Its Twitter account @every1connects with 184 followers; averaging 61 new followers per day over the past 3 days. The two key hashtags used are #ThroughMyWindow and #EveryoneConnects with the following stats:

  • #ThroughMyWindow: a total 236 tweets from 154 contributors carrying the hashtag; averaging 33.7 tweets per day. And 10.6% are retweets.
  • #EveryoneConnects: a total of 243 tweets from 165 contributors; averaging 34.7 tweets per day. And 5.8% are retweets.
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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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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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