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December 22, 2011

How social is social in the East?

Asia is already the world’s largest and most populous continent, and it’s only set to grow in importance in the future. We decided to take a look further, and find out more about how the East end of the continent does its social networking… 

South Korea

For much of the past decade South Korea has been thought of as one of the world’s most connected societies. The nation was previously dominated by Cyworld, a home grown social network based on a Sims-like, avatar driven world.

Cyworld attempted an ill-fated second attempt at cracking the US and Europe markets, but while the Korean network had dreams of world domination, Facebook began taking a lead in its own home territory with the help of a rise in foreign produced smartphones.

According to figures by Rankey, a Korean social media ranking service, Facebook has grown 16 times compared to last year, with a total of 16.3 million visitors in August. Social Networking Watch reported back in November that Cyworld is planning another comeback with an updated design, but for now it seems Facebook is stealing a march ahead in the Korean market.

Japan – Twitter’s Success Story

The story in Japan in many ways mirrors the recent developments in South Korea. Mixi, a home-grown social network centred around the concept of diary entries, ruled the roost for around the past seven years.

The service has come under pressure from both Facebook and Twitter in the past year. Twitter came into its own during the Tōhoku earthquake in March earlier this year, when people across the country used the service to spread messages of goodwill and reassure loved ones.

Mixi recently announced a collaboration with Twitter, screengrab by Media Bistro

Here’s a video from Twitter, demonstrating the impact of the surge in use of the service during the crisis:

The latest data from Nielsen NetRatings Japan, claimed that Japanese-grown Mixi was in third place behind relative newcomers Facebook and Twitter, in terms of unique visitors throughout October.

Looking over the Great Firewall of China

China’s decision to block a number of well known social media sites will not be news for many readers of the Nokia Connects blog. At present those in China are unable to access popular sites including Facebook, Vimeo, Youtube, Twitter and many more. A total of 1 million articles per day were blocked in 2010 according to data by G+.

Despite Firewalls, China continues to grow into the world’s most connected society. Image by SF Brit on Flickr

So where do Chinese social media users go? A number of alternative sites have cropped up inside the republic, including RenRen & Kaixin 001, Facebook-like equivalents, and Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service that already outnumbers its American competitor in terms of membership. Some commentators even believe that Twitter has copied and adopted some features from its Chinese competitors.


Indonesia is a country of near record breaking statistics when it comes to social media. Not only is it the world’s 4th most populous country, but it’s also the 2nd largest Facebook nation and 3rd largest Twitter nation in the world. But these stats come from a country where only 20% of the population is connected to the web, so expect more big things from this giant of South East Asia. So how did this island archipelago become one of the biggest forces in social media? The Petada blog in Indonesia offers this explanation:

“..most importantly, many Indonesians share a love of celebrity and have a passion for new technology, and a “cool” trend tends to attract the population in droves. In Indonesia, Twitter offers it all – a way to strengthen social networks, track celebrity gossip and news, and is a simple way to take part in the latest popular technology”.

Back to you

We hope you enjoyed this round-up of all things social in the Far East. Got something to add? Let us know in the comments or contact us @Nokia_Connects.