Here are all of the posts tagged ‘Japan’.
Following on from We Are Social’s hugely popular Social, Digital and Mobile Worldwide in 2014 report from last week, we’re very pleased to share an even more detailed look at the online landscape around the Asia-Pacific region.
It also turns out that a week can make a big difference when it comes to online data; in the past 7 days, and with the help of some of the 200,000 people who’ve viewed our Global report, we’ve found some even fresher stats to the ones we published in last week’s report.
These new discoveries have had a particular impact on India’s stats, where figures for internet users have changed from 151 million to 213 million. Internet figures for Indonesia have also almost doubled, to 72.7 million.
These changes have had a significant impact on the regional and global totals too, so we’ll begin with a refreshed look at the stats from the very top.
The Global Picture
Following revisions to a number of countries, the number of worldwide internet users now exceeds 2.64 billion, representing global penetration of 37%:
Following our report last week, we also received a number of queries regarding the difference between mobile subscriptions and actual mobile users, so we’re delighted to be able include a new chart comparing the two in this report.
We’ve teamed up with the wonderful team at GSMA Intelligence for this, and they’ve been kind enough to let us share this valuable data in the report – here’s the APAC picture:
In order to understand the context in which people use mobile devices, it’s also important to understand how people pay for their subscriptions (contracts), and whether they have access to potentially faster mobile data connections.
The chart below offers more detail on both these areas, detailing how many people have pre- vs post-paid contracts, and using 3G as a proxy for the likelihood people could access faster internet if they chose to take out a relevant mobile data plan:
Asia-Pacific In Context
APAC is home to almost 3.9 billion people, accounting for just under 55% of the total world population. The region hosts just under half the world’s Internet users, and 52.2% of the world’s active social media users:
click to enlarge
Although internet user data for a number of countries around the region hasn’t been updated as recently as we’d hoped, APAC has still shown impressive growth in recent months, with Asian countries alone adding more than 150 million new users since our previous report in October 2012 – many of which were in India and Indonesia:
However, internet access is still far from a universal reality around APAC, and penetration rates in some countries remain surprisingly low:
It’s interesting to see how the average number of hours spent on the internet varies around the region too, both in terms of desktop / laptop access, as well as the time spent on the mobile web:
It’s important to note that the figures in the chart above are based on claimed time spent on the internet, rather than on actual traffic. This has two important consequences:
- The data will, in part, reveal the story that people choose to tell about their internet use, rather than the exact number of minutes they spend connected
- However, in a similar way, this ‘claimed’ data helps to avoid over-counting internet usage when someone is connected to the internet, but not actually making use of it (e.g. the browser is open in the background while someone works on another, non-internet related application).
- There may also be some variations across cultures in what people consider ‘internet’ access. For example, someone who streams music through a service like Spotify for the whole day may not consider this ‘time spent on the internet’, even if we could argue the opposite is also true.
2013 was an impressive year of growth across almost every aspect of the social media world in APAC, with chat apps in particular seeing stunning growth thanks to platforms like WeChat, LINE, and Kakaotalk.
We’ve chose to focus on social networks for this report’s data though, as they continue to offer the greater opportunity for marketers.
User figures and penetration rates for social networks still vary hugely around the region, but the overall trend is definitely upwards (note that MAU stands for Monthly Active Users):
It’s worth highlighting that the figures for social media penetration often exceed those for internet penetration, especially in fast-evolving markets. There may be a number of reasons for this:
- Social media stats are almost always more up to date than those for internet usage, largely because they are collected by a commercial entity on an on-going basis and published at least quarterly to help with advertising sales. In Facebook’s case, the monthly active user figures are available in almost real-time.
- Many reports on internet usage and penetration omit mobile internet usage, meaning many mobile-only users aren’t included in the figures (partly because they’re more difficult to identify). In many emerging markets – particularly places like Indonesia or Myanmar – mobile-only use can account for a significant proportion of internet use. People accessing social media through mobile devices will be counted, however, meaning social media numbers are often a more accurate indication of actual internet use and penetration in these markets.
- On the other hand, some people may have multiple social media accounts on the same platform, leading to a slight skew in the data, although we don’t anticipate this is the main cause for the difference between internet and social media usage numbers.
We’ve also changed the way we report user numbers in this year’s report compared to our previous report in 2012, and we now only report monthly active user numbers (MAUs) for any given platform. This ensures a more reliable and actionable data set, and ensures organisations using the data have the most up-to-date picture of people’s preferences and behaviour throughout the region.
Facebook’s MAUs continued to grow across the region over the past year, adding 54 million by January 2014 in Asian countries alone (excluding countries in Oceania like Australia and New Zealand).
China’s Qzone added 25 million MAUs too, meaning that overall growth around the region is somewhere in the region of 80 million new active users – almost 10% growth year-on-year.
We opted not to include chat apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, LINE and Kakaotalk in this year’s analysis for a couple of reasons:
- The way that people use these platforms remains largely one-to-one, so they offer less of an obvious mass engagement channel for brands compared to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Weibo (although we recongise that this is changing, especially with tweaks to WeChat’s platform);
- The companies who operate these platforms tend not to publish monthly active user figures, and where they do, they aren’t broken down by country, making it very difficult for us to attribute usage by country.
However, for handy reference, the global user figures for each of the region’s largest chat apps are as follows:
- WhatsApp: 400 million monthly active users worldwide
- WeChat (Weixin): 270 million monthly active users worldwide
- LINE: 300 million total registered users worldwide
- Kakaotalk: 130 million total registered users worldwide
We’re pleased to offer time spent on social media for many of the region’s larger economies too, thanks to some great data from GlobalWebIndex’s Active Usage: Time Spent study, which they’ve kindly allowed us to share. You can find out more about this study here.
As with the time spent on the internet chart above, this data is based on claimed usage rather than actual traffic information. This again means that data may be coloured by the story people wish to tell about themselves, but at the same time, it also helps to avoid over-counting time where people have social media open in the background.
Based on our qualitative research, many people keep social networks open throughout the day in a distinct browser tab or tool like Tweetdeck, but do not necessarily spend all that time actively engaging with the platform itself, so the data above should be used in conjunction with traffic-based numbers (where available) to paint a multi-dimensional picture of people’s behaviour.
It’s interesting to explore the above chart in the context of the societal norms of each country too; it appears that the time spent on social media is determined as much by a nation’s culture as it is by the speed or ease of internet access. In many countries where fast internet access is still a luxury, people still spend many hours engaging with social media, highlighting once again that social media are playing a huge part in the growth and evolution of the online landscape in APAC.
However, to enrich this story, it’s worth looking at the infrastructural elements too. Mobile devices play a huge role in Asia’s social media scene, so we’ve added an extra data set to this report to illustrate mobile social access in more detail:
The number of mobile subscriptions in APAC continue to grow steadily in the past 15 months, with Asian countries alone adding more than 200 million new subscriptions since our previous report in October 2012.
Although it’s likely that some of these new subscriptions constitute second subscriptions (e.g. an additional contract for work or personal use), the importance of mobile devices even in the region’s less developed nations highlights the critical role mobile plays in people’s daily lives in APAC.
While it can be tricky to identify the exact number of people accessing the internet through mobile devices, we have identified reliable data for two important indicators that offer valuable insights: mobile broadband subscriptions, and people accessing social media through mobile devices:
It’s particularly interesting to note that the proportion of the population accessing social media through a mobile device is much higher than the penetration of mobile broadband, suggesting that many people continue to access social media through slower mobile connections.
You’ll find this data broken down for each country around the region in the full report.
The Individual Country Story
We’re delighted to announce that we now have social media and mobile data for every Asian country, as well as 4 key nations in Oceania.
Major additions to this year’s report are North Korea and Myanmar, and although the numbers aren’t likely to challenge China’s position as the dominant digital player in the region, it’s very exciting to see how online media are helping to open up some of the world’s most secretive nations.
In particular, Myanmar – or Burma, if you prefer – has surprised us with the sheer speed of growth, particularly when it comes to social media. From a country where Facebook was technically blocked barely 12 months ago, this Southeast Asian country now boasts well over 1 million Facebook users, and is still growing at an impressive rate:
Despite these impressive numbers though, this still represents a social media penetration of just 2% in Myanmar, so there’s clearly plenty more potential for growth as the country continues its journey towards a fully open approach to the internet.
Even mobile subscriptions struggle to reach double-digit penetration, while the internet – albeit based mostly on fixed-line figures – languishes at just 1%.
However, 2014 looks like a promising year for Myanmar’s online landscape, and we’re looking forward to plenty more good news from them in the months to come.
The story in North Korea remains less clear; with the internet still officially blocked in the world’s most reclusive nation, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what’s going on. However, Facebook themselves state that they now have 8,200 users within the North Asian state, 4,600 of whom access through mobile devices:
It’s unclear how many of these users are actually North Korean citizens though, and we suspect that a significant proportion may be foreign nationals based in the country.
However, the fact that it is even possible for these people to access Facebook from within North Korea represents a step forward compared to the situation this time last year, so we’ll take that as a glimmer of hope for 2014.
We’ve also included data for Timor-Leste, which, although still small in absolute numbers, represents another reason for optimism, given the young country’s recent history.
East Timor’s social media population in particular is growing steadily, with 6% of the population – or 76,000 people – using Facebook at least once in the past month:
As with many emerging economies, the numbers for internet usage in Timor-Leste are far lower than those for social media, mainly because it’s harder to measure the exact number of people accessing the internet.
Many people still access from shared devices in internet cafés or in places of work, and data is often collected by surveys that have taken quite some time to gather, analyse and publish.
Social media figures such as those made available by Facebook are almost real-time though, offering a more up-to-date and accurate picture of the online landscape within these fast-evolving digital ecosystems.
Excitingly, mobile phone subscriptions have already surpassed 50% penetration in Timor-Leste too, meaning many more people now have the opportunity to connect to the internet as soon as affordable mobile data plans become available.
Alongside figures for Australia and New Zealand, we’re also pleased to present some initial figures for Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Both nations play an important role in understanding the broader picture across Pacific nations, and the stories their data snapshots tell reveal some interesting insights:
Fiji already demonstrates relatively strong internet and social media penetration figures, surpassing the regional average in both areas.
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea still has plenty of potential for growth, with barely 4% of the population using Facebook in the past month. However, with mobile subscription penetration of 42%, it’s clear that Papuans have an increasing digital opportunity, and we’re confident these figures will all grow considerably during 2014.
We’re also pleased to share statistics on mobile social behaviour for all 30 countries in this study, ensuring marketers have a solid understanding of the opportunities to engage their audiences in a variety of settings and contexts – here are some example stats for Indonesia:
As mobile increasingly becomes our predominant means of accessing online services and content, it’s likely that Asia-Pacific will continue to lead the world in defining the future of the online landscape.
The India Changes
Finally, given the major changes in internet user numbers since last week’s report, here’s how the individual country situation looks today:
So there you have it – another week, another bumper collection of stats. Do get in touch if you’d like some help making sense of these numbers, or turning them into part of an actionable strategy.
Be sure to check back to our blog for more updates in the coming weeks too – given how quickly the data seems to be changing, it’s clear 2014 is going to be another vintage year for online growth. We’re already looking forward to next year’s APAC report!
Sources for all the above data are listed in the full report. We’d especially like to thank GlobalWebIndex and GSMA Intelligence for their help in providing data for these reports, and for allowing us to publish their valuable data.
UPDATE: We’ve amended this post, and some slides in the original report, due to a request from one of our data partners.
Sina Weibo expands to Singapore and Indonesia
According to Techinasia, Sina Weibo has officially appointed Trends Media as Sina Weibo’s Singapore and Indonesia exclusive reseller, supporting its expansion in the region. The main focus of expansion will be to increase the number of sign-ups of the ‘blue V enterprise-verified’ Weibo accounts. It is similar to Facebook brand pages but it attempts to help brands in Singapore and Indonesia to effectively target Chinese speaking users on Sina Weibo. About 70% of the Singapore’s population are able to converse in Mandarin. Singapore is fourth largest nation in terms of registered Sina Weibo users globally with 1.5 million registered users. However, Facebook and Twitter are still most used social media platform in Singapore. Will Sina Weibo become major social media platform in Singapore? Only time will tell.
Rakuten buys singapore-based video streaming site Viki
According to Techinasia, Rakuten has officially revealed the acquisition of video streaming site Viki. Viki is a Singapore based start up company offering premium TV shows, movies and music video content with crowdsourced subtitles, allowing multi language users to consume the content created from various nations. The acquisition appears to be one further step for Rakuten to go beyond e-commerce and attract worldwide users with unique service to compete with the market leaders like Amazon. This move is in line with its investment in social bookmarking site Pinterest and acquisition of Spanish online video service last year. It will be interesting to see how Japan originated e-commerce site, Rakuten will shape its path to become international digital content provider.
DrawChat joins Chat app competition in Asia
The Japanese startup known for developing the popular photo customization app DecoAlbum, has released new chat app, DrawChat. It’s the first Facebook API that utilized messenger featuring doodling and handmade emoticons. While drawing functionality and a set of cute emoticons are nothing new (as we have seen them from Taiwan-made messaging app Cubie), DrawChat is expected to be more accessible by connecting with your Facebook friends. Do you think DrawChat will be able to grab Asia’s competitive chat market, by leveraging Facebook messenger API?
Facebook open newsfeed competitions
Facebook, which previously stipulated that an app be used for pages to run a competition, has decided to allow them through the newsfeed. This should be interesting for brands, who will no longer require the budget necessary to create or lease an app; fans can enter simply by liking, commenting on or sharing a status. For the full lowdown, take a look at the post we’ve written on the changes.
Update to conversations on Twitter
Twitter has updated how it presents conversations, intending to make them easier to read. Now, tweets that are part of a conversation appear in chronological order, with a little blue line connecting them to make it clear what’s going on. The video below explains the update.
Twitter test ability to tweet excerpts from articles
Twitter last week performed a test with the New York Times that allowed users to tweet certain sections from an article, not just the headline, as had previously been the case. In one article about Saturday Night Live, the network chose certain sections that they felt people were likely to want to tweet, then highlighted them such that they could be automatically selected for sharing. The newspaper noted that the story was shared 11 times more frequently than the average from their top 500 articles of the last month, so it’s likely that we’ll be seeing this tool more in the future.
Location aware recommendations on Foursquare without checkin
Foursquare has announced that it is trialling push notifications based on location, without users having to checkin. The system will suggest occasional places to eat, or sights that you should see if in a new city and will function based on a variety of location signals. By not using GPS alone, it manages to dramatically reduce the battery life necessary, making this a possibility for the first time. The system is being rolled out to a few thousand Android users for testing.
Tumblr creates collaborations for New York Fashion Week
Tumblr has linked 20 fashion bloggers with designers and relevant organisations tocreate content for New York Fashion Week. These will take the form of ‘apprenticeships’, with the bloggers learning from their mentors and helping them produce an installation, which will be displayed in a New York gallery during the event.
Pinterest and Fashion Week
Pinterest, too, is ramping up its Fashion Week activity and has created a dedicated hub where designers and other influencers can share their various inspiration, featuring content from the likes of Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta. In addition, the network has partnered with the television channel ‘Style Network’ to bring an on-screen ‘It List’, featuring the top ten trends for the upcoming season.
ESPN using Twitter’s Amplify for sport highlights
Sports broadcaster ESPN is set to use Twitter’s social TV platform, Amplify, to show highlights of the college American football season on Twitter. These will be pre-rolled by adverts for Verizon Wireless as part of a larger #DidYouSeeThat campaign, which will extend to ESPN’s on-screen TV coverage of the sport. The move comes after similar deals by Twitter for the MTV VMAs and with the USTA for US Open coverage – evidently, Twitter is working hard on bulking up its already strong links with TV.
GAP make us of .gif on Facebook
After tech firm Giphy has created a product that allows .gifs on Facebook, high-street fashion brand GAP has made use of the technology. It posted its first .gif, shown below, to its Facebook page last week, accompanied by #BacktoBlue copy.
Co-op produces Snapchat campaign
The co-operative is set to become the first major UK brand to use Snapchat in a marketing campaign, promoting their electrical business. Customers will be sent a code for a £30 discount on a laptop, which will ‘self destruct’ after a short time, as with all Snapchat messages.
Day Two of the iMedia Agency Summit kicked off with a series of roundtables, and I hosted a great discussion on “Demystifying The Complexities of Social in a Diverse Region”.
I was joined by delegates from Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan and the UK, each of whom highlighted the specific nuances of the social media landscape and audience behaviours on their respective markets.
- Brands can’t just adapt global campaigns for social in Asia; the cultural context means we need a dedicated approach for local needs.
- Industry growth and improved ROI requires greater involvement from senior marketers within client organisations and agencies.
- Listening technologies still don’t offer a universal solution across the region, and this is a major barrier to improved success.
- Marketers need to think more about how to deliver meaningful social value, instead of antisocial product spam.
- We need to build social communities that people find welcoming and rewarding, and not egocentric brand fan clubs.
In-Depth Conversation Review
We started the roundtable by discussing the diversity of technologies and platforms around the region. Facebook and Twitter are still the dominant networks in markets like Malaysia and Singapore, but we’re seeing increased use of new platforms and services such as WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, especially in Northern Asia.
However, while audiences have jumped on these platforms at a startling pace, Miki from Comnico suggested that many brands in Japan still struggle to use these platforms for marketing, especially where the interactions are more personal, private and contextual. She stressed that large-scale social media marketing in Japan is still dominated by Facebook and Twitter, whom she feels are better set up to cater to the needs of big brands.
Hanh from VietBuzzAd stressed the continued importance of forums in Vietnam’s social media ecosystem, pointing out that forum seeding and paid interactions still form a large part of many Vietnamese brands’ investments in social. Contrary to Miki’s experiences though, Hanh says that brands in Vietnam are already exploring how to use chat apps for marketing, and she’s been involved in activities for a fast-food chain where chat apps played a central part of communications. She believes that the mobile nature of these apps makes them ideal for marketers who want to connect with Vietnam’s permanently mobile youth.
This kicked off questions around the kinds of content brands are using in different channels, and Lola from Tribal in Malaysia pointed out the difficulties in managing consistent brand delivery across the region, whilst also catering to local cultural and linguistic nuances. This was a theme we discussed at the iMedia Brand Summit a few months back too, and it continues to challenge both agency and client-side marketers alike.
One thing all participants agreed on, however, was the need to develop content specifically for Asian audiences. Simply translating a global campaign into Asian languages rarely delivers meaningful audience engagement, because the ways Asian audiences engage around content are different. Asian audiences can be more reserved in the way they interact with content in social media, so brands need to make extra effort to ensure the content is tailored to specific audience needs and behaviour.
This segued into a conversation about how difficult it is to measure success across different markets. The cultural dimensions of engagement mean that it’s very tough for brands to benchmark and compare success metrics across markets like the Philippines, whose audiences are culturally more socially gregarious, and those in, say, Japan, whose audiences are often more reserved.
Kate from Profero said that these differences really struck her as a recent arrival to Asia; she wasn’t prepared for the diversity of platforms and technologies around the region, and the challenges this diversity causes. She noted that marketers in the West are used to using a single tool that can collect comparable data across markets – often in different languages – but that this was currently still unfeasible in Asia, where no single social listening tool covers all of the top languages.
This not only makes marketers’ jobs more difficult, it also makes it more difficult to compare the successes of activities across markets. As a result, marketers in Asia spend lots of time simply collecting data, rather than analysing it, and as a consequence struggle to gain the same momentum as their Western counterparts. This compounds the challenges marketers face when trying to develop regional activities, as it’s much more difficult to find common insights to inform strategy.
The difference here isn’t one of skills though; rather, it’s often about access to reliable tools and technology that would allow marketers in Asia to optimise activities more efficiently, and report their successes more accurately.
Many complexities stem from differences in how people around the region do business too; the challenges we face are not just technological, but also relate to the ways marketers approach things in their individual business cultures. Lola pointed out that differences in business culture can make it tougher to gain traction with regional clients too, so it’s imperative that agencies build strong relationships with senior marketers.
She suggested that social media doesn’t always get enough senior attention within larger agencies, and that by making it the domain of junior teams, social media would continue to remain a novelty, and would always struggle to gain the backing that it needs. She stressed that youthful enthusiasm had huge value, but agencies also need people with broader experience and an understanding of business to work on social activities.
In particular, senior marketers continue to worry about negative comments and ‘trolling’, and this is particularly important in Asia where senior marketers have an elevated need to ‘manage face’. This often makes it more difficult for senior managers in Asia to take big risks, and as a result, social media remains a marginal activity in traditional industries like Banking and professional services.
Hanh noted that this is one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for agencies to find a good remuneration model. She noted that clients are used to paying for people’s time when it comes to producing social content (e.g. images), but they don’t really understand the value of activities such as community management, so don’t want to pay for them. Consequently, many agencies in Vietnam have been including these for little or no cost, which has further devalued them in clients’ eyes.
Miki said the situation in Japan was equally tricky for two reasons: firstly, because too many of the people working in social media are very junior, and secondly, because very few senior marketers use any form of social media in their personal or professional lives. She said that even when clients were keen to get involved in social media, it was more as a result of looking at what their competitors were doing, rather than because they saw a unique opportunity for their own brands.
This leads to a lot of copying between brands. The resulting lack of differentiation results in much lower engagement, creating a vicious cycle where senior marketers don’t see any meaningful value in social media. Miki noted that this problem is particularly prevalent in Japan, where few people speak English well enough to be able to benchmark what brands in other countries are doing, and as a result, Japanese social marketing has become a bit of an echo chamber.
Lola said things are different in Malaysia, where clients are more comfortable paying for strategy and listening, although on-going community management is far from being an attractive, scalable opportunity despite its potential to add value to clients’ brands.
Cristel from OMG noted that Filipinos are generally highly social anyway, and are much more likely to click ‘Like’ or follow brands than people in other cultures. As a result, social media seems to work well for many brands locally, and marketers are getting increasingly involved. Social media is popular across the population, but when it comes to people in lower socio-economic groups, social media activity is driven by interactions with celebrities and staying in touch with family members who are working overseas.
Interestingly, however, the majority of the 93% of internet users in the Philippines who already use Facebook, most still access predominantly through desktops due to the cost and patchy reliability of mobile data. This means that internet cafes are still very important around the country, although home internet access is on the increase.
We then got into a heated conversation about the need for brands to add distinct value in social media. We agreed that too many brands are still filling in content calendars, rather than understanding how the brand can actively offer entertainment, information and education to its audiences through social activities. Kate made the important distinction between ‘Liking’ a brand page, which is a one-off, versus ‘Liking’ individual content and posts, which is what brands need to strive for. If content doesn’t continue to offer value, people will quickly ignore it. In particular, as an industry, we need to take a stand on unscrupulous marketers, and the proliferation of spam.
Social media’s role in political issues is also causing concerns for marketers around the region, especially in areas like China and Vietnam where people are turning to social channels for more ‘activist’ activities. Political beliefs aside, this makes the social environment more tricky for marketers to navigate, and fears that certain (or even all) channels may be blocked continue to worry brands and agencies across the region. We agreed that open social media were preferable to highly regulated platforms, but that, just like in offline communities, some degree of protection and moderation was needed to ensure people’s safety and a welcoming environment for everyone.
In a similar way, the wide array of religious beliefs around the region also adds to the complexity for marketers. For example, if a brand wants to make a social media app for a particular religious festival, laws and cultural sensitivity may require them to create such an app for all relevant religious festivals. Marketers need to show a high degree of social, cultural and religious sensitivity when engaging with Asia’s multi-ethnic audiences.
However, we also agreed that traditional media are often a large part of the problem, sensationalising stories about social media, and focusing heavily on the negative aspects of social media behaviour. Sadly, this sensationalism often extends to the marketing trade press too, so it’s important for agencies to offer meaningful contributions to stories that help to mitigate the issues.
Cristel then made the point that too many brands focus on sales and trade, and they’re missing the ‘engaging heart’ of social. If marketers are not matching cultural context, they’re going to struggle to engage people. She contested that audiences go to social media to have a conversation with their peers about the things they care about – not to be sold products – so marketers need to offer people something to connect around that adds social value.
Hanh noted that many marketers resort to competitions for this though, which again contributed to the erosion of social value. She and Cristel both said this has led to the rise of ‘professional competition entrants’ in their markets, and sometimes whole families make a living by entering social competitions and voting for each other in order to win. Marketers and audiences alike are increasingly frustrated about this, and it’s rendering competitions less and less effective.
Cristel brought the roundtable to a fitting conclusion by noting that brands are still stuck in conversations about quantity, but the real opportunity is one of quality. Too many marketers are envious of their competitors’ “vanity scores” (e.g. Facebook Page Likes), but they’re not looking at whether the size of the community actually delivers any value. As an industry, we need to stop focusing on ‘lowest common denominator activities’ (e.g. “like this post if…”) that dilute the quality of engagement and make social media marketing far too antisocial.
If you’re looking for more insights into the diversities of social media around Asia, be sure to check out our Social, Digital and Mobile series of reports.
Line hits 200M users; adds 100M in 6 months
A new article by TechInAsia reports that Japan-based chat app Line has reached a milestone user base of 200 million. Line had just recently reached 100 million in January of this year, indicating that the chat app has doubled its user base in the last six months alone. Korean competitor KakaoTalk reached its first 100 million users earlier this month. China-based WeChat is closing in on 400 million users, most of whom are based in China. TechInAsia notes that Line is commemorating this milestone by giving out premium stickers until July 26.
Hashtags not doing much for brands on FB
A recent article by Inside Facebook revealed that hashtags have not led to higher engagement for brands on Facebook. The new Twitter-like feature launched in early June on the social network, and hashtag prominence grew steadily throughout the month. Based on a study by Simply Measured, the findings indicate that nearly 20 percent of all Interbrand 100 posts contained hashtags by the end of June–up from 3 percent on June 12. Hashtagged brand posts also saw two peaks during the month, with 26 percent of brand posts incorporating them on both July 20 and July 27. The study also found, however, that these hashtags were still not having much of an effect on engagement levels for brands. Nate Smith, a Marketing analyst for Simply Measured is noted as suggesting hashtags may become more effective if their presence is collaboratively reinforced and given cohesion across multiple platforms.
Simply Measured’s report further indicated that visual content receive the highest levels of engagement by a long shot, as photo and video posts received 98 percent of all engagement on brand posts. Simply Measured notes that brands are well-aware of the allure of imagery, as 80 percent of brand posts from the period featured photos or video. Meanwhile, questions received negligible engagement (thereby justifying the termination of Facebook questions, a product option previously available for brand pages).
Another interesting finding from the study revealed that posts between 50 and 99 characters received the highest levels of engagement. The success of brand posts declined as they got longer, with a sharp drop at posts over 250 characters in length.
In India, Line added 5M new users in 3 weeks
Line has been turning up the heat on its competitors, establishing aggressive expansion tactics worldwide. As TechInAsia reports, this strategy has reaped its rewards for the Japan-based chat app, particularly in its recent efforts and focus on the Indian market. A mere three weeks into launching a TV ad campaign in the market, Line reported adding 5 million new users in India. That’s almost 250,000 new users per day, in India alone. TechInAsia notes that, given a majority 70 percent of Line users are overseas users, odds are there were some Indian users prior to the official launch in the market. In any case, Line is clearly starting to tip the scales, by focusing on areas where WeChat’s dominance amongst Asian chat apps remains largely curtailed (virtually everywhere outside of China).
90% of Thai netizens use social media
Social media has continued to grow in popularity in Thailand this year. The country is the 16th biggest for Facebook, with 18 million users. Meanwhile, Bangkok remained the biggest city on Facebook, a title earned in 2012, and also continued to be one of the two most-Instagrammed places worldwide. So it comes as no surprise that Thais are even more engaged on social media this year. Based on a survey by Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), findings reported by TechInAsia illustrated how Thais spent a weekly average of 32 hours on the internet, with over 38 percent spending at least 20 hours on a weekly basis. The survey also found that more than 90 percent of Thai netizens were using social media. Facebook remained the most popular platform, claiming over 92 percent of responses. YouTube came in at 63.7 percent, while Line followed close behind with just over 61 percent. Desktop PCs were still the most popular choice for web access (45 percent), while notebooks claimed just over a quarter of responses. Smartphones followed with 22.7 percent, while Tablets came in with 6.8 percent.
Variety of options still key for social logins
eMarketer recently reported on the state of social logins in Q2 2013. Although Facebook has remained the most popular platform amongst consumers, its slight majority amongst other social login platforms–a 54 percent stake in Q3 2012–has declined as other social login platforms have maintained preference amongst “solid minorities”. The Janrain study indicates that Facebook’s share of 46.2 percent holds against Google’s 34 percent. Yahoo comes in third, but trails far behind with just 6.6 percent of respondents indicating preference. Twitter follows Yahoo with 5.7 percent. Twitter in particular has lost significant ground as a preferred platform for social logins, losing a considerable share since holding 10 percent Q3 2012.
eMarketer notes that the preference for social logins directly corresponds to the kind of site being accessed. Facebook logins were much more preferred for gaming and entertainment sites (64 percent). Facebook came out ahead with a majority on music and retail sites as well (61 percent and 59 percent respectively). Nonetheless, the breakdown shows a widened spread of preference for social logins, indicating that variety has remained crucial for the success of social logins throughout this year.
Sina Weibo and WeChat Compete in Online Banking
WeChat and China Merchants Bank (CMB) jointly launched the WeChat customer service for its credit card subscribers in late March this year. On July 1st, CMB announced the establishment of its first “WeChat Bank”, expanding its services to debit card, loan applications, and fee payment services among others. Hot on the heels of WeChat’s exploration into bank services, Sina Weibo has announced it will build a micro-banking system for users to easily open a bank account, conduct money transfers, and pay credit card fees – all without visiting the bank.
The move by WeChat and Sina Weibo is expected to revolutionise communication between customers and bank clerks, as these social media platforms present direct communication channels for both banks and users. Whether Sina Weibo’s micro-banking services are aimed at competing directly with WeChat’s banking strategy is still not clear. What is certain though is that micro-banking through social media is a heated trend in China, and will become a big theme in the coming years.
As WeChat Gets Disrupted, Sina Launches WeMeet
Numerous WeChat users reported disruptions to their WeChat accounts on July 22nd, which also extended to public accounts. There were issues logging in, and some users could not send or receive messages even when logged in. With an increasing number of Chinese Internet users getting addicted to WeChat, the disruptions were met with anxiety as users were unable to access their friends’ updates.
As reported by 36Kr, the disruptions not only affected users from Mainland China, but also Japan and Hong Kong. Many users turned to Sina Weibo to voice their unhappiness. WeChat announced and apologised for this incident right after its occurrence via their official Sina Weibo account. #WeChat is dead# becomes a hot topic on Sina Weibo, with 877,917 mentions by end of Monday. With the overwhelming popularity of WeChat, Sina on the same day launched a new platform called WeMeet (微米) to compete with WeChat. According to Sina, this is still a beta version, and they plan to have an official launch around the end of August 2013.
Line Launches a News App – Line News
In line with its global expansion objectives, Line is expanding more aggressively than competitor WeChat, with its series of individual apps such as Line camera, Line play, Line manga, and Line novel. Line makers NHN Japan recently launched another news app – Line News, which is a media integrated platform of NHN’s news website – Livedoor News and NAVER まとめ, and news from various Japanese media channels on topics such as politics, entertainment, and sports.
Four of the most important news will appear on the top of each channel, while the rest of news will appear in the format of timeline. The news on the Line News app are refined by Line’s editors, containing only 3 to 4 lines of summary, in order to provide an efficient reading model for mobile users. The most crucial part of Line News is that users can share news among each other, contributing to stronger connections between the Line users.
Fortune 500 companies taking to social media
Fortune 500 companies are continuing to grow their various social presences, with Twitter the most prevalent of these. 77% now have active Twitter accounts, compared to 70% in 2012; in terms of popularity, the microblogging platform is followed by Facebook in 2nd, and YouTube in 3rd. Surprisingly, Google+ comes in at 4th with 35%, ahead of company blogs with 34%.
Facebook’s mobile user base up by 20%
Facebook’s mobile user base has increased by 22% in the UK and 18% in the USA over the last year, according to figures released by the social network. On average, smartphone users check Facebook’s mobile app between 10-15 times a day, with 26 million of Facebook’s 33 million UK users (almost 80%) accessing the site via mobile.
Facebook roll out photo comments to pages
Facebook photo comments are now enabled for pages as well as individuals, meaning that people can post photos in response to page comments and page admins can make use of the system, too. The system has been available to personal users for around a month now – it will be interesting to see how quickly pages take advantage of the option.
QVC to create Pinterest-inspired social commerce channel
Bric-a-brac retailer QVC is creating a social-commerce channel called toGather, to be hosted on QVC.com. The service will allow consumers to create collections of products, which others can then ‘heart’ to show their approval, much like on image-sharing social network Pinterest. QVC personalities will also feature, interacting with users to add a further social element.
Trailers and ads on Instagram videos
A few weeks after the launch of video on Instagram, the network has seen its first movie trailer. The 15-second clip promotes ‘Jobs’, in which Ashton Kutcher plays the late Apple CEO, Steve.
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruises used the system to post 9 of their old 15-second ads, which they eventually removed from the platform for fear of violating Instagram terms. The videos, on whose compliance Instagram has not yet commented, were not filmed through the platform, so did not appear in the same style as natively-filmed content. It will be interesting to see if other brands go down this route.
American Express embed Basement Jaxx concert in a tweet
Amex UK last night streamed a live concert from London’s Somerset House, all embedded within a tweet. Fans could send shout-outs using the hashtag #BasementJaxxLive, 10 of which were read out during the set.
— American Express UK (@AmexUK) July 21, 2013
Honda outreaching with Rebecca Black Vines
Honda are responding to people who tweet using the hashtag #wantnewcar with humorous, personalised Vines, featuring ‘Friday’ singer Rebecca Black, as well asHonda’s own employees.
— Honda (@Honda) July 15, 2013
— Honda (@Honda) July 15, 2013
Captain Morgan targeting ads at Foursquare check ins
Rum brand Captain Morgan has started targeting ads at those who check in at certain locations on Foursquare, suggesting they order a drink containing the spirit. Now, when Foursquare users check in at certain bars or restaurants, they’ll receive something like the below:
This raises an interesting point about whether these ads were available to under-21s, on which Foursquare has yet to comment. Boldly, Captain Morgan have accepted the risks of underage users seeing the ads, in the knowledge that the percentage of Foursquare users who are over-21 exceeds the 71.6% bar set for an alcohol ad campaign.
My Nikon World makes everyone a photographer
Photography brand Nikon has produced a Facebook campaign that encourages users to create a photographer profile and upload photos to galleries in order to earn points and badges. Influencers will also be involved in ‘My Nikon World’, which looks to create an online community dedicated to sharing photographs, complete with a competitive element.
WWF buying up 404 pages on Russian social network
WWF is using 404 pages on the Russian social network Odnoklassniki to highlight the plight of various rare and endangered species, including the leopard, tiger, bison and snow leopard. Instead of receiving a standard message, users will be confronted by text stating that the animals in question are in danger of “not existing”.
Mastercard and Foursquare partner to fight cancer
Mastercard are offering to donate $0.01 to fighting cancer for every meal bought using their service worth over $10.00, up to a value of $4 million. They’ve partnered with Foursquare to spread awareness, with images like the below appearing on users’ smartphones.
ASDA helping mums to #savesummer
UK supermarket giant ASDA is helping mums to #savesummer, by suggesting things to make or cook with their children, including ice-cream burgers and Play-Doh dinosaurs, for which the components can all be bought via ASDA.com. Mums will be encouraged to share photos of their efforts on social media, using the hashtag #savesummer.
Buxton asks if Ashes fans have #gotthebottle
Water brand Buxton has created a campaign to celebrate its sponsorship of the Ashes, featuring large digital display boards at train stations across the UK on match days. These will feature tweets from fans and their own @GotTheBottle Twitter account, along with Ashes information and an image of Buxton brand ambassador, England captain Alastair Cook.
Vodafone’s holiday hashtag competition
UK mobile provider Vodafone has produced a Twitter competition that encourages followers to choose holiday destinations based on where certain hashtags are trending. Users choose a hashtag, such as #YOLO or #touristshit, then virtually book a holiday to the location where that hashtag is trending, in order to be in with the chance of winning a break.
Barbour’s 100 days of summer
Clothes brand Barbour, most famous for its wax country jackets popular in Chelsea, is running a summer-themed content stream on its Tumblr, with a new hashtag for each of the ’100 days of summer’. Fans are also being encouraged to share their own content to add to the brand’s, some of which appears as below:
Spotify’s super customer service
Spotify showed last week how good customer service can be. When a fan named Jelena Woehr sent in some positive feedback, she received the following playlist in return, complete with hidden message:
Fireball Whisky in trouble for Facebook posts
Fireball Whisky has had Facebook posts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, on the grounds that they implied alcohol is indispensible, encourage excessive drinking and are likely to exploit the young, immature and vulnerable. The updates included links to student blogs and references to falling over, plus dumping your boyfriend in exchange for more whisky, so it’s pretty unsurprising that they fell foul of ad standards. This goes to show how important it is for brands to realise that Facebook content is strictly regulated, just like TV or print.
The Vatican offers indulgences to Pope’s Twitter followers
The Vatican is offering time off purgatory for followers of Pope Francis’s tweets. The move, which has to have one of the best prizes on offer for a social media competition, sees the Church’s increased attempts to embrace modern technology and specifically the social web. With Twitter accounts in 8 languages, it’s not clear if you get bonus points for how many you follow. Especially if you can’t read Latin.