In contrast to China and Japan, Western social networks like Twitter and Facebook have pierced the market despite all the success of the local networks (Cyworld and Me2day). The use of Western social networks by Koreans (and Asians in general) and their commercial importance continue to increase in the eyes of the American Internet giants. So, Facebook recently opened a sales office in Singapore in order to increase its advertising revenue in Asia.
The high level of social media use by Koreans also changes the dynamic in the business world. More and more Korean companies use them to increase the visibility of their products and promotions. Online shopping centers have also been created in order to allow companies to benefit from this trend.Read More
Social media have undergone numerous recent transformations while their use has soared. According to a recent study, 25.7 million people (about half of the country’s population) visited a social network site (such as Cyworld, Facebook or Twitter) last July, compared to 16 million a year before that. Korea thus ranks second behind Russia in terms of the increasing trend of social network use growth in the world. More than 25% of the Korean population has a Cyworld account (a local social network) and nearly 90% of young people in their 20s have one. This shows the importance that these networks hold in the lives of Koreans.
Cyworld is a social network site that resembles other networks such as Facebook and Myspace. Launched in 1999, it has several services that resemble the functions of other networks, but offers a distinctive element: each user has a personal page that can be “furnished” as the user wants. Me2day, which is similar to Twitter, was set up by the search engine Naver that has experienced great success in Korea, despite the supremacy of Google. Many Korean social networks have options that resemble those on Western networks.Read More
It is thus not surprising to note that Koreans are big Internet users. One particular aspect of Korea is the existence of organised online video game leagues (such as Global Starcraft 2 League): there are official competitions based around the game Starcraft that allow professional gamers to earn a living while playing in front of a crowd of tens of thousands of people. Video games are also widespread on specialised sites and appear more and more on social networks. Social networks such as Facebook however, are precursors as Korea has only recently started showing an interest in this new way of playing. Korea is however, rapidly catching up with the others.Read More
The division of social networks into sub-groups means that the networks connect the public more precisely. The people of Japan and their unique culture have enabled the hatching of networks that are, on the whole, only used by the Japanese. The major players, such as Facebook, are practically unused in the country and are disregarded in favour of sites such as Mixi, Gree and Mbga. Mixi, which allows a user to open an account by providing a Japanese cell phone number, currently has over 21 million users. Gree, which is aimed at the young, has recently become the most popular social network in Japan with 21.25 million registered users. The success of certain social media is linked to the considerable interest that the young Japanese have in video and online games. MGBA, the leading site in this regard, is one example of these social media that targets a very specific audience and that achieves success. In comparison, Facebook is used by less than 2 million Japanese.
The weak popularity of Facebook in Japan can be explained partly because Mixi and Gree have functions that are very similar to those offered by the American giant. The Japanese adaptation of Facebook however, is not enough to convince the young to use this network. Mixi and Gree, being Japanese products for the Japanese, understand more the tastes, customs and interests of its users. It is thus normal that these networks are more popular in Japan.
Several communities are created within these social networks based around a specific interest. Each network has its own audience that is often specifically targeted: white-collar workers, women, young people, fans of online gaming, etc. As a result, it is important for companies wishing to communicate with their customers to establish a presence on all major social networks. This allows them to further understand potential customers and to create loyalty among their current customers.Read More
In China, the Internet is developing rapidly and social networks there see their member numbers increase rapidly. Earlier we mentioned that the most frequently used Chinese networking sites are often inaccessible or little known outside of China. QQ, which is China’s most popular networking site, has a 50% market share with 380 million users. This site that started out as an instant messaging service has developed itself into a portal and now has its own form of virtual currency. Its popularity is so widespread that it is possible to perform transactions in online shops and gaming sites that function outside of the QQ network.
The popularity of Google in North America is undeniable. Nevertheless, the largest search engine in China is Baidu. Many local varieties of Facebook (51, Kaixin, Renren) and Twitter (Digu, Taotao, Zuosa, Weibo) have tens or even hundreds of millions of users. Even sites such as Youtube and Ebay have very similar Chinese equivalents (Tudou and Taobao respectively). And all this is only within China. The strength and diversity of the Chinese.
Internet is partly driven by its population. It was a lack of understanding of the cultural differences by Western computer giants however, that led to the development of these local alternatives.Read More
With a total population that exceeds 1.4 billion people, it is not surprising that the number of Internet users in China alone surpasses the total sum of users from many Western countries. Statistics on Internet use in China could give readers a sense of vertigo. It is estimated that over 300 million Chinese are Internet users, which is more than the total population of the US. Statistical forecasts suggest there will be close to 500 million users in 2015 which represents dazzling growth. Up to 92% of Chinese Internet users use social media, which is often made by and for Chinese users, despite the success of Facebook and Twitter. In comparison, only 76% of American Internet users in the US use these social networks. We can see that the Chinese, like the Japanese, are very fond of the Internet. Considering that the culture is totally different, it is normal that sites which have achieved great success in the West, don’t fair as well in Asia. Asian social networks often offer similar options but are integrally different.
Furthermore there are over 100 million Internet users in the rural regions of China alone. 60% of Chinese Internet users use mobile Internet (through intelligent phones such as iPhones from Apple), a tool which is expanding year on year throughout the world. For the majority of Asians, the Internet is a medium primarily used on cell phones. Numerous social networks in Japan require a cell phone number in order to register. It is important to know that cell phones in Asia have many functions that have not yet been developed in North America. Among others, it is possible to access public transport and make purchases from a cell phone. The Chinese are increasingly using their cell phones to get online to the point where computer sales are lower than those of telephones. This shows the major difference that exists between North-American and Asian users. These statistics also make it possible to see the vast scale and the possibilities that are offered to those who wish to succeed on the Web in China.Read More