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South Korean Social Apps Hold Off Facebook—for Now

Local apps like KakaoStory outpace Facebook for reach, but little else

January 9, 2017 | Mobile | Social Media

Consumers in mobile-centric South Korea are known to be heavy smartphone users . In fact, research suggests South Korean men between the ages of 10 and 39 spend 3 hours or more per day using those devices. But this love for all things mobile so far hasn't translated into success for mobile-focused social network stalwarts like Facebook and Instagram among the country’s Android users. Instead, those mobile users continue to gravitate toward homegrown options.

Leading Social Media Apps Among Android Users in South Korea, Ranked by Unique Users, Oct 2016 (millions)

According to October 2016 data from Nielsen KoreanClick, local social media apps Band and KakaoStory, with 14.8 million and 13.6 million unique Android users respectively, outpaced Facebook and Instagram by that measure.

Nielsen KoreanClick isn’t the only researcher to note the popularity of KakaoStory among South Korea’s Android users. A separate study of the top 10 Android smartphone apps in South Korea by Wiseapp in early August 2016 found that KakaoStory and Band both ranked above Facebook in unique users.

Top 10 Smartphone Apps Among Android Users in South Korea, Ranked by Unique Users, August 1-7, 2016 (millions)

Even though South Korea’s social networks are enjoying widespread popularity with mobile users, interest in Facebook among marketers and consumers is on the rise. A recent study by DMC Media, for example, found that the country’s social media users ages 19 to 59 spent more time daily with Facebook than with any other social platform, regardless of device type or operating system. In addition, more companies in South Korea used Facebook than used any other social platform in 2016.

—Jeremy Kressmann

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