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Social Media Marketing in Mobile-Oriented Countries

No. 2 country in Facebook users provides model for mobile-social marketing

May 3, 2011

Some of the world’s most avid social network users live in Indonesia, where more than half of the country’s online population participates on social networking sites, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Like in a number of emerging markets where most of the population earn low incomes, users in Indonesia tend to connect to networks via mobile devices rather than PCs. As a result, marketers’ early forays there are geared toward these user attributes.

Facebook has 35.2 million members in Indonesia, making it the second-largest market for the network, according to CheckFacebook.com. Web users of all ages, ranging from teenagers to those over 50, are using Facebook to stay connected and updated with friends.

Top 10 Countries, Ranked by Number of Facebook Members, April 1, 2011 (millions)

Using Facebook primarily via mobile means a different mix of social networking activities for users and marketers alike. Social networkers take advantage of Facebook Chat as a free alternative to SMS and voice calls, for example. And marketers that, in the US, may have relied on Facebook display advertising, do so less frequently in Indonesia because banners do not appear on social networks accessed through mobile devices.

Further, ecommerce is challenging because few people in Indonesia have credit cards and bank accounts. But marketers are finding ways to bypass a card-based payment system. Mobile social networking application provider Mig33, for example, has developed a virtual economy in which 4,000 merchants in 150 countries (Indonesia being its largest market) sell prepaid cards whose credits can be used to exchange virtual gifts, play online games and create avatar communities.

Taking advantage of the nation’s highly mobile population, location-based services such as Indonesia-based Yahoo!Koprol, with 1.5 million users, and foursquare are growing fast.

Yahoo!Koprol has strong ties with prominent regional brands such as Black Canyon Coffee, cinema operator Blitzmegaplez and Celebrity Fitness. It also recently launched Koprol for Business to help small- and medium-sized businesses incorporate location-based social networking as part of their marketing strategy.

These examples indicate marketers are finding ways to reach online consumers in countries where mobile is the screen of choice and credit card access is limited. Targeting consumers through location-based social networks and offering a virtual currency system rather than online advertising are two techniques helping marketers achieve their goals.

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Check out today’s other article, “iPads Have Big Potential for Retailers.”

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