Indonesia a social media hub

Indonesia a social media hub

Indonesia – the world's fastest growing social media hub

Unless you've had business or holiday reasons to visit Indonesia, chances are this Asian nation might not be as familiar to you as, say, India or China. But here are some facts you probably weren't aware of. As one of the world's major economies, Indonesia is a member of the G-20. It covers over 17,500 islands and, with a population approaching 240 million, is the world's fourth most populous country. What else? Indonesia is currently at the forefront of a technological revolution.

Indonesia's growing love of mobile phones

While the economies in the aforementioned India or China have experienced fluctuations in fortune, Indonesia has steadily been nurturing a taste for the latest in computer and telecommunications technology. In fact, according to recent economic trends, Indonesians will be purchasing over 60 million mobile phones during 2013. This eye-watering figure represents a 114% penetration rate.

This ferocious upsurge is being driven by two factors: the replacement market and, even more significantly, social media. Samsung are leading the way in the Indonesian marketplace, taking the lion's share of the two-thirds of mobile sales generated by international brands. Samsung, a South Korean conglomerate, are facing stiff competition from both local Indonesian retailers and the Chinese market (this chunk of the overall pie chart has risen to 37% and continues to grow). BlackBerry and Nokia are experiencing strong sales figures, although Apple is currently lagging some way behind.

Where the Indonesian market is really burgeoning is in sales of smart phones. Blackberry have seen their products shifting at a rate that represents a 30% increase. The 37 models they are offering in Indonesia have seen them taking around 50% of the market. Samsung, who have an even greater number of smart phones in their arsenal (some 225 models) have enjoyed a sales increase of over 130%, or 39% of the market.

Apple have not reached such impressive heights with their smart phones: their 13 models amount to a mere 2% of the overall sales. Similarly, the Nokia Windows phone (with 22 models) equate to 2% of the total. While they dominate the market in feature phones, they have come nowhere near matching Samsung's dominance in Indonesia.

Mobiles and social media

As with elsewhere on the globe, the potent driving force behind smart phone sales in Indonesia is social media. Everyone from commuters heading into Jakarta's financial district to farmers on the outlying Javanese islands are increasingly reliant on having virtual lifelines to the outside world in the palm of their hands. Interestingly, statistical research reveals that while one-fifth of the Indonesian population are connected to the web at home and 65% can surf in internet cafes, less than 10% possess PCs. This means that there is a vast pool of consumers who are reliant on mobile phones for maintaining network links, as well as providing entertainment.

Indonesians are particularly susceptible to social media. Meeting up with friends for chats and games, and getting together with likeminded people in groups, have been cultural mainstays for generations. These activities are more than catered for by mobile phone technology, which is one reason why smart phones have been so embraced in this part of the world.

Facebook and Twitter

Social media giants Facebook regard Indonesia as their fourth-largest marketplace. In the bustling capital, Jakarta, there are an estimated 11 million users. Of these, the most popular fan page subscribed to is Opera Van Java. The hugely popular improvised comedy show on the Indonesian Trans 7 TV station boasts 7.6 million fans. Other Facebook fan bases numbering well into the seven millions include Mario Teguh, the charismatic motivational speaker (7.3 million) and Dahsyat, the music TV show (7.2 million).

Twitter look upon Jakarta as the city at the foremost of their 140-character communication revolution, while the second city, Surabaya, follows at number six in their user tally. Every second of the day, the information superhighway is being bombarded by tweets – some 10.6 billion worldwide. The fact that 2.4% of these messages are emanating from Indonesia illustrates the scale of Twitter's popularity in this corner of Asia. Indonesians are making a huge imprint on the ‘twittersphere', typing out and sending a dizzying average of over 900 tweets every minute; that's 15 every second! 87% of all these tweets are composed on mobile phones.

Twitter's accounts in Indonesia can be further broken down to underline these enormous figures. Popular culture is just as all-pervasive here as anywhere else in the planet. The 26-year-old pop and hip-hop singer, Agnes Monica Muljoto, is followed by almost 6.8 million Twitter users. Songwriter and cultural ambassador Sinna Sherina Munaf, aged 22, can boast a tally of 5.3 million and rising.

Elsewhere in the Indonesian social media world, the most popular YouTube channels are, with 4.1 million subscribers, Gadis Gery (2.9 million) and Pocari Sweat (2.85 million). Almost 1.4 Indonesians use LinkedIn, over 70% of whom are aged between 18 and 34 years old.

Indonesians aren't just using Twitter as another form of communication; they are truly embracing the powerful potential of this social network, with over half the messaging being retweets. This means that Indonesian topics are frequently ‘trending' in the overall Twitter listings.

This simple act of reading an original 140-character message and then passing it on has had a fundamental impact in many areas. When the Indonesian footballer Irfan Bachdim, who currently plays for Thai side Chonburi, tweeted an advert for his favourite isotonic drink (Pocari Sweat), many of his fans seized on his recommendation and retweeted. A trending topic snowballed, which had a significant sway on the global market. English Premiership football clubs, such as Arsenal, have realised the potential enormity of the market forces in the world's fourth most populous nation. The North London side have established a Twitter feed aimed at Indonesian ‘Gunners' fans, with messaging conducted in English and Bahasa.

The size of this market cannot be underestimated. Social media is embraced by an estimated 96% of the Indonesian population. This represents far more than the numbers reading newspapers or tuning in to the radio; in fact, this staggering demographic is a bigger ratio than anywhere else on the planet. Because Twitter and Facebook are now considered social mobile brands, they are gaining new users at a phenomenal rate as Indonesians engage with the expanding infrastructure that has been taken for granted in Asian countries, such as Singapore, for some time.

Demographic trends

Considering the Indonesian population is one clue to the phenomenal success of social media in the country. Two-thirds are over 15 years old. Of this total of 160 million people, all will own at least one mobile phone. (And, like anywhere else on the planet, a sizeable portion of the under-15s will also own these devices).

While Indonesia itself covers a huge area, with more than 6,000 islands spread over both sides of the equator, its far-flung population has been uniformly eager to embrace social media. Feature mobiles enjoy a 97% distribution, with the figure for smart phones standing at 78%. The latter are enjoying a surge in popularity as consumers are drawn to the availability of larger screens. There has been a particular flood in sales for 2-3 and 3.5 inch versions.

Indonesians are clearly enthusiastic about social media. Brands must be aware of this fact, as it is key to infiltrating the marketplace here. While the population have traditionally been drawn to local brands, the 10 most popular Facebook brands include BlackBerry, the Bali-based Surfer Girl, Samsung, Intel and Axe. Local brands feature far more prominently in Twitter.

But for any brand to gain a foothold in the Indonesia market it must engage with social media platforms. This point is crucial, with the preliminary stage of any campaign being to dip a toe into the Indonesian online community. Marketing executives must carefully analyse what is being discussed on social media, and understand the hot topics that are currently trending. A careful balancing act must be initiated, because unlike other Asian markets, such as Singapore, where a brand can be popular simply because it is widely-known and respected, Indonesians aren't necessarily impressed by ‘famous'. The long-established integrity of brands reflecting local interest are just as important.

There is much proof of the inexorable growth of Indonesia's social media, but a particularly telling instance was when popular Facebook game ‘Angry Birds' was launched globally. The choice for this event was a suburban mall in Jakarta. Enthusiastic fans turned up in their droves, hopeful of winning prizes, with children as young as five displaying their keyboard dexterity. This was an example of the direction the Indonesian market is taking, with a new generation of potential smart device users already waiting in the wings. According to the Asia Vice-President of Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, the reasoning behind the launch was: “… to ignite the whole market of Indonesia. To get them to like Angry Birds on Facebook and then play the game online." He added that the Indonesian capital was selected for a simple reality: this nation has become the social media capital of the world.