SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia has among the highest social media penetration rates in the world and a key factor driving the development is the growth of Facebook, a new report has shown.

In its first-ever forecast for the region, eMarketer analysed social network users in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report added to growing evidence that Southeast Asia, home to more than 627 million consumers, is seeing huge increases in connectivity as economic growth continues.

It revealed that Indonesia has the highest social network penetration rate among internet users in the region, with 77.4% of internet users visiting a social network at least once a month in 2015.

That equates to 72 million people using social networks each month and eMarketer said the number is set to rise to 109.8 million people, or 82.2% of internet users, by 2019.

The Philippines is second highest, with 74% of internet users using social media, but its smaller population meant that amounts to just 39.7 million users. However, the country is projected to have 56.2 million social network users in 2019.

Similar high rates of social network user penetration are found in Malaysia (73.5%), Singapore (73.3%), Thailand (73%) and Vietnam (72.7%).

It emerged that the growth of Facebook, Southeast Asia's favourite platform, has been the key driver of growth with at least two-thirds of internet users regularly using it.

Again, Indonesia took the lead with 67.7 million Facebook users, representing 72.5% of internet users, and this figure is expected to grow to 105.1 million people by 2019.

"Social network penetration, while high among internet users in Southeast Asia, is somewhat low in more general terms because internet penetration is lower than average in the region," said Haixia Wang, eMarketer's VP of forecasting.

"This means that Southeast Asia presents significant opportunities for social network usage growth in the next few years," she added.

A recent report from media agency We Are Social indicated that internet and social media usage is increasing more than 15% year-on-year in Southeast Asia, with the rise in connectivity being driven largely by mobile.

There are more than 232 million active social media users in the region, the report found, with almost 200 million of them accessing their accounts from mobile devices.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff