Statistics released by the Research Group at O’Reilly Media earlier this month showed that Asian and Middle Eastern users now comprise an astonishing 25 percent of Facebook accounts.
And the Asian Facebook user base in particular appears to be exploding, with over 2.5 million new sign-ups in the past few months alone.
NetProfitQuest, an Asia-based marketing consultancy, last year conducted a survey of 100 businesses in Asia on the use of social media marketing, producing some widely-cited results. Earlier this year, I had a chance to speak with the co-founder of NetProfitQuest, Willy Lim, about social media’s upcoming role in the Asian business scope:
Do you have any ideas on why Facebook seems to be the most popular forum in the region?
In our opinion, Facebook became the most popular social networking platform because it is more user-friendly and has a lot of applications (such as games or business tools) that attract a lot of users. Having lots of applications is a key success factor for Facebook. We can also see this strategy being used by Apple’s iPhone.
What are your own predictions for the future of business and social networking in Asia, in particular considering the language barriers that may be posed?
I think that 2010 is the year where social media will become mainstream media.
Language barriers may be overcome by leveraging our user base to provide the translation to the local language. Companies like Plurk, a microblogging service that is in competition with Twitter, use this strategy to win users over in Asia. I also think that there will be more ‘niche’ (rather than localized) social networks that serve very specific groups of people with similar interests. For example, the leading low-cost airline in the region, AirAsia, has recently launched a customized social network called Koolred.com to allow its existing and potential customers to network with each other.
Do you have any advice for businesses in Asia or with a presence in Asia to woo social networking audiences?
Social media marketing is really ‘Social’ + ‘Media’ + ‘Marketing.’ So, you’ll need to first ‘Socialize’—make friends and develop relationships with people. Then, you choose the right ‘Media’ (whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, a blog or mobile phone) that best engages your audience, before finally you ‘market’ the relevant products or services to your social media friends.
More information on NetProfitQuest and Willy Lim can be found at their website: http://www.NetProfitQuest.com