In Asia, Facebook Exceeds 200 Million Users But Growth Deceleration Continues

facebook in asia

FACEBOOK NOW HAS OVER 950 MILLION USERS WORLDWIDE and 80% of its user base are from outside U.S. and Canada.

As of end of Quarter 2 2012, Facebook exceeds 200 million users in Asia. There are now 204.9 million Facebook users in Asia, which is roughly 27% of Facebook’s non-US/Canada user base.

Facebook opened its door to everyone worldwide on September 26 2006. In Asia, Facebook took 49 months to reach the 100 million users mark. With its unabating phenomenal popularity worldwide, the social networking giant took just 20 months to add another 100 million Asian users.

However, Facebook users growth in Asia has been slowing since the beginning of 2011, from its peak of 21% in Q4 2010. In second quarter of 2012, its Asian user base grew by 5.5%.

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Facebook in Asia (Quarter 1 2012): India In Pole, Japan Continues to Surge

Facebook has over 850 million users worldwide. Out of that, a total of 194 million users are from Asia at the end of March 2012. Most of these users from the Southeast Asia region – 97 million or 54% of the total Facebook users in Asia. Some other observations on the latest Facebook in Asia statistics:

  1. In early February 2012, India surpassed Indonesia to become Facebook No. 1 Nation in Asia. Back in January 2011, India has 16.9 million Facebook users. Now, the country has over 45.9 million Facebook users.
  2. In addition to India, Japan has been growing impressively in the past 1 year or so. Japan started the year 2011 with 1.8 million Facebook users. Today, there are over 8 million users in Japan.
  3. South Korea has been growing with double digits figure. The country is now ahead of Pakistan in the Facebook in Asia list.
  4. Among the top ten countries, India, Japan, and South Korea has been the high-growth Facebook nations since early 2011. Throughout 2012, Facebook will be focusing on these three countries for users acquisition, as the Big Blue of the social web aims to reach the 1 billion users mark.
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How Grand Millennium Hotel Kuala Lumpur Uses Facebook to Engage Customers and Inspire Transactions

grand millennium hotel kuala lumpur

2012 will be the year when hotels wake up to the power of social media as a primary (rather than alternative) customer communications and relationship channels, says the Hotel Yearbook 2012 report. According to another projection, half of the travel industry will be using social media as a way of generating revenue and bookings by 2016. Globally, hotels are ramping up and fine-tuning their social strategies. They are adapting to the social web dynamics and building goodwill building with customers.

A leading five-star hotel Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur recently became the first hotel in Malaysia to offer direct room booking on its Facebook Page. Users can check room availability and instantly book the room within the Facebook environment. Those who book the rooms can also enjoy fans-only rates and earn loyalty reward points. Grand Millennium is working with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to enable this social booking feature.

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Facebook in Asia: A Growth Story (2011)

facebook in asia

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

Plurk logo

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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Blending social networking and e-commerce in Multiply Marketplace

Facebook is on a growth rampage in most parts of the world, but other social networks are crafting niche identities to define their competitive advantage and some are these not-Facebook social networks are thriving. For Multiply social network, it is in a sweet spot when it comes to social shopping. Now, Multiply Marketplace has over 41,000 merchants, mainly located in the Southeast Asia countries – Phillippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. These micro-merchants use Multiply to setup their online storefronts to take orders (and currently, payments happen outside Multiply network).

“We have only just begun to offer tools and support to the growing community of sellers and buyers doing business on Multiply,” said , president and founder of Multiply. “We now have the largest number of online storefronts in the region. Going forward, our primary focus will be to make the Marketplace the premier social shopping destination on the web, making shopping easier, safer, faster and more entertaining.”

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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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