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Facebook Poked Aside in Asia Pacific

• Only 7.1% of Facebook users are from Asia-Pacific.

• Singapore ranked 10th in Facebook penetration by country.

• Reason: language barriers, Friendster’s early penetration, competition from localised sites and Facebook’s heavy bandwidth issues and a somewhat complicated interface.

• Asians prefer local social network sites like Cyworld, Orkut, Mixi and Xiaonei which cater to their needs better.

It is easy to assume that this world is universal, and that this universality extends to our usage of social networking sites since it seems like the whole world is on Facebook. This is especially so when Singaporeans been quick to embrace it, ranking Singapore 10th in Facebook country penetration.

However, despite its success in Singapore, the rest of Asia hasn’t followed on. A report from comScore has shown that Facebook is far from conquering Asia with a shocking only 7.1% of Facebook users coming from Asia-Pacific.

This impeded inception can perhaps be attributed to various factors – language barriers, competition from localised sites and Facebook’s heavy bandwidth issues and a somewhat complicated interface.

Instead, sites like hi5, Orkut, Yahoo! 360, Xanga, Mixi, Friendster, Cyworld and Xiaonei are taking the different countries in Asia by storm. These local sites are better able to cater to the markets they serve as they know the country well. For example, the Japanese take delight in showing their individualistic side by dressing their Mixi profiles with customised skins and avatars, while Yahoo! 360 allows users to blog, and thus meeting the needs of Vietnamese users. Possibly the strongest contender is Friendster, marking its gradual shift from the US market to firmly dominate Asia Pacific with a vast majority of its members now from this continent.

In Thailand, where the usage of English is rather limited, Hi5 attributes its popularity to the fact that it offers Thai as a language. Naturally, they are comfortable sticking to Hi5 and this has impeded the growth of Facebook.

The Vietnamese, who are big on blogging, much prefer Yahoo! 360 to Facebook as the former has a blogging function, making it the top choice.

Facebook can’t fight with Friendster when almost 40% of Friendster users come from the Philippines. In a smart move, Friendster introduced a mobile version to counter the low internet usage in the country, allowing users to use a chat application on their mobile phones with the Mobile Broadcast System. This probably accounts for the very high percentage of Friendster users.

All in all, with Facebook only coming up as the favourite social networking site in only two out of eleven countries, this shows that it has yet to gain a significant critical mass in Southeast Asia. In another study by comScore, a startling figure shows the lack of interest in Facebook – only 7.1% of Facebook’s visitors come from the Asia-Pacific region.

Although Facebook hasn’t managed to emulate the success it has enjoyed elsewhere, it is very slowly picking up popularity in this region. And, whether Facebook will take the effort to understand the markets here in its bid to penetrate the Asian market remains a highly anticipated move.
About Author Christina Humble Bee :

Christina is an online marketing associate at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. She also actively contributing to forums on topics related to advertising and social media marketing.Christina graduated with a Singapore degree in business management, majoring in marketing

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Article Added on Friday, April 3, 2009
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