Facebook’s growth in Southeast Asia

A recent report by Inside Facebook highlights the interesting development of Facebook in Southeast Asia. Despite being blocked in China, East Asia’s largest and fastest-growing market, Facebook has grown phenomenally in the rest of Southeast Asia during the last few quarters.

How has this happened?

  • In Taiwan, Facebook has exploded from 400,000 to nearly 7 million users in only 12 months
  • Significant growth in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia
  • Indonesia is now the world’s #3 country in terms of total Facebook audience size (behind US and UK)
  • Facebook has overtaken hi5 in Thailand and Friendster in the Philippines (formerly the top social networks)
  • …But Facebook has seen little growth in Japan and S. Korea

Taiwan’s rapid adoption of Facebook is a particulary interesting example, as it is now one of the few non-English speaking countries with over 30% penetration, joining Hong Kong and Singapore as one of Facebook’s Asian sucess stories.

Why Taiwan?

  • A key driver for this growth has been social gaming apps, like Happy Harvest, Pet Society and Restaurant City
  • These apps pull users away from other social sites without games, like Taiwan’s other social network Wretch.cc
  • More games are being developed in or translated into Traditional Chinese, such as Mahjong by Godgames

Though perhaps Taiwan doesn’t represent a gateway to the rest of Southeast Asia,  it does show that Facebook can be successful in the region. Perhaps social gaming will also open doors for Facebook in tougher markets like Japan and South Korea…