Monday, February 16, 2009

Asia's social media use shows what a big world it is (for citizen journalists too)

Did you know that 456 million Internet users in Asia, just under a third of the world's online population, are "actively consuming social media"?

I can claim to know because I spent some of this evening browsing a report which explores social media use (pdf 0.98 mb) in 12 Asian countries: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietman.

The report, by Ogilvy & Mather's direct marketing arm, OgilvyOne, does not describe a research method. It intends to help "brand marketers and digital consultants on how to design a social media strategy in Asia."

It contains some nuggets for folks interested in the social media's use in citizen journalism:

About Hong Kong (p. 19), the report expresses surprise that
political blogs or citizen journalism which are gathering pace in mainland China are practically non existent in Hong Kong. This is mainly attributed to a relatively open freedom of expression, as Hong Kongers don’t yet feel that they have to treasure or tap these new outlets to get heard.
In Thailand (p. 30), citizen journalism via social media has addressed
the demand for live news and the relative latency of traditional mainstream media. Big events such as the opposition coup in 2006 have seen socio-political blogs transform into powerful news-sharing sources. Blogs are an increasingly important part of the social media landscape in Thailand with 84% of internet users claiming to write or participate in a blog making it a key channel for word of outh. Twitter and Twitter-like micro-blogging services are yet to take off in Thailand though attempts are being made to elevate the profile particularly in the large cities with umours of Twitter-clones emerging such as
About Taiwan (p. 22) the report states,
In a country where sensationalism in traditional media channels is commonplace, citizen journalism is growing in Taiwan due to widespread dissatisfaction with the range and quality of traditional news sources. The proliferation of social media channels to express opinions, comment on the news, and share content, has brought about competition and altered the traditional business model of mainstream media. UDN and Chinatimes are at the forefront of this trend ith Apple Daily and Liberty Times also allowing commentary on their sites.
The report places the social media in six categories (p. 6): 1. Social networking platforms (e.g., Facebook, Orkut, Hi-5, Cyworld, Mixi, etc.); 2. Social bookmarking platforms (e.g., Wikipedia,, digg, etc.); 3. Content, applications & media (e.g., FlickR, YouTube, etc.); 4. Blogging platforms (e.g., Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, etc.); 5. Social gaming (e.g., World of Warcraft, Ragnarok, etc.); and 6. Social connectivity tools (e.g., email, SMS, RSS feeds, instant messenger, and live chat).

My big surprise is to read the estimate of India's 2008 Internet penetration rate as 5.2 per cent (60 million Internet users in a population of nearly 1.15 billion), the lowest among the countries surveyed (p. 12).

Pakistan's is two times that at 10.4 per cent (17.5 million Internet users in a population of 167.76 million).

On the other hand, the report estimates Singapore's 2008 Internet penetration rate as 87.4 per cent (4.26 million Internet users in a population of a little more than 4.6 million), the highest among the countries surveyed.

China's 2008 Internet penetration rate is estimated as 19 per cent (253 million Internet users in a population of a little more than 1.33 billion).

On p. 7 the report notes that
traditional media entities have taken note and seized the potential of the interconnected-ness of the consumer worldwide. BBC is among many to create its YouTube channel, AOL has invested USD850m in Bebo not to mention entrepreneurial players in the region such as Li Ka Shing’s USD120m punt in Facebook, the launch of a dedicated YouTube channel in India and the many VC funded social media entities that are popping up in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Malaysia. The list goes on.
To repeat, the report does not describe its research method. Check out the whole colorful document, released about three weeks back, here (pdf 0.98 mb).

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