Social media use surges in Asia Pacific

13 July 2010

TOKYO: Social media has enjoyed unprecedented growth in Asia Pacific in the last year, although behaviours remain highly distinct in the region. 

A study by Nielsen, the research firm, found that netizens in Japan are the most avid bloggers, uploading over one million such pieces of material a month.

Twitter is also gaining ground in Japan, with the number of unique visitors to the microblogging portal climbing from 200,000 to ten million during the past 12 months.

With 16% of the Japanese internet audience now accessing Twitter, its penetration rate in this market has leapfrogged that in the US.

Elsewhere, bulletin boards are the most popular form of Web 2.0 service in China, and 80% of domestic social media content being generated in this way.

Games are often employed to attract people to these forums and build equity with existing members, but content-sharing is more common among participants perceiving themselves as extremely digitally literate.

Virtual product placement within these multi-player games is becoming a profitable method of monetising this kind of online platform.

"Grass roots" celebrity tracking dominates electronic word of mouth in China, and internet stars like Sister Phoenix and Mr Yuan outperform offline personalities in these terms.

When it comes to disapproval of brands and their owners, however, the Chinese are not slow to make their feelings known, displaying the greatest willingness to write a negative product review on the net.

Indeed, they are the only shoppers in Asia Pacific more willing to share critical feedback than discuss positive brand experiences.

Some 62% of Chinese web users post unfavourable remarks with a greafter degree of regularity than complimentary ones, compared to 41% of their counterparts around the world.

Social media is also having an increasing impact on consumers' purchasing decisions, with user-generated commentary on the internet the third most trusted source of information in China.

While online buzz still fell behind the views of family and friends, it had a particular resonance in certain categories, such as electronics, cosmetics and cars.

In contrast with China, Koreans generally praise their favourite goods on digital media with a higher level of frequency than their peers in other countries, the Nielsen study found. 

Data sourced from Nielsen Wire; additional content by Warc staff