The popularity of social media sites varies depending on the region using the internet. 

Though Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram seem to dominate in Europe and North America, they don’t all have the same power in the APAC region.

In fact some countries in the region can’t access them at all.

When targeting social media users in APAC, it’s important to know where everyone’s hanging out and what they respond positively to.

Remember, these are all diverse countries with their own social media habits. It’s dangerous to assume all their social media practices are the exact same.

In this article, we’ll go over five of the most popular social media platforms in the APAC region and how you can align your social media marketing strategy to fit your demographic’s habits, needs and behavioural patterns.

A breakdown of internet users in APAC

In March 2015, We Are Social and IAB Singapore teamed up to publish their latest research on digital, social and mobile trends in the APAC region. To give you an idea of the market you’ll be working with in the region, here are some of their statistics:

  • 4bn population total
  • 1.4bn active internet users
  • 1bn active social media users.
  • 3.7bn unique mobile users
  • 0.9bn active mobile social users

Keep these statistics in mind as you think about how you’ll approach your social strategy.

Facebook: still king of the castle

Despite its blocked access in China, Facebook remains as one of the most popular social media sites throughout APAC. Though it continues to be a dominate force in the region, relying too much on Facebook advertising does not always guarantee success.

Facebook is treated differently within each APAC country. In Japan, for example, Facebook is used as much more or a marketing and professional tool, similar to LinkedIn.

Waggener Edstrom noted that the overall engagement with paid advertising was at 68%, but Japan actually fell below that mark, landing at 60%.

Still, 94% of Indians have a Facebook account, says We Are Social, so the social media platform should still be a priority.

If you do choose to use Facebook to market, make sure you understand the cultural differences of the specific country and investigate how each population interacts with Facebook itself. This will give you a better understanding of how to build your platform within the region. 

Baidu Tieba: exclusive yet worth it

Baidu is a search engine in China, but its forum Baidu Tieba, offers a great opportunity for marketers to connect with readers.

It has the capabilities for lead generation as well as raising brand awareness. Its advertising prices vary greatly depending on certain factors such as the product, the overall goal of the campaign and the customers targeted.

At the moment, the only way for digital marketers to get on board with this site is to sign up through an agent.

Still, it may be worth the trouble, especially given that it’s the fourth ranked most popular social media site in the APAC, says We Are Social.

Instagram: worth more than 1,000 words

Ranked at number three by We Are Social, Instagram has amassed a large following of photo-happy consumers who love showing off their favourite meals and selfies just as much as any other Instagram users.

Now that ad options are available on Instagram in the APAC area, now is the time to rev up your Instagram marketing strategy in this region.

Instagram is all about visuals so this is your chance to explore what types of images are most popular within each region. As with many western countries, the most successful marketing endeavours on Instagram are led by companies that are already highly visual such as clothing designers and restaurants.

Tap into your creative side and start looking for ways to capture the spirit of your brand from all different angles.

Qzone: the best social media platform for China

China blocks access to Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so your strategies for marketing on those platforms won’t be worth much if you’re specifically trying to reach a Chinese audience.

According to We Are Social, Qzone was the second most popular social media site throughout the APAC region. This platform is perhaps the Chinese equivalent of Facebook as it allows users to keep diaries, post photos, write their own blogs and even listen to music.

When advertising on Qzone, the best strategy is to create quality blog articles, just like you would on any other blogging platform.

You can be a little less transparent in your blogs, and you can mention how great your own products are as well as promote your contact information. Of course, your blogs should still be of high quality, but you can be a little more liberal with your self-promotion.

To keep your users active and engaged, Advangent recommends frequent updates, but warns users to keep their reposted articles down to two for every 10 articles posted.

Users quickly tire of seeing other people’s content, so if you’re familiar with the 80/20 rule on Facebook, switch it for Qzone.

Google+: an old familiar friend

When Google+ first came out, experts said it was going to be the downfall of Facebook and the second coming of Google. However the social media platform quite surpassed Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn in terms of popularity, but in the APAC region, Google cracks the top five easily.

As you well know, Google loves Google, so if you have a Google+ page, your page will be favoured in search results.

If a person searches 'coffee shops Auckland' then your Google+ page is likely to be pushed above other coffee shops that don’t have Google+ pages.

Maintaining a refreshed Google+ page will keep you high in search results and more likely to attract searchers.

Although Google+ performs well in Japan, Australia, India and other Asia Pacific countries, it’s important to remember that Chinese users do not have access to Google or its social media platform.

If you’re planning to market your products to a Chinese audience, choose Qzone, Weibo or another platform (while all these platforms are popular in China, they actually have a global presence and popularity).

Keep in mind, the above five are just traditional social media sites. These findings don’t even include messenger apps such as WhatsApp, QQ and WeChat. But that's a topic for another day.

Learn more...

Econsultancy is hosting its Digital Cream roundtable event in Singapore on 19 November 2015. Book your place now and look forward to convening and networking with like-minded marketers from different industries, exchanging experiences and comparing benchmarking efforts.

Michael Bird

Published 21 August, 2015 by Michael Bird

Michael is director of strategy at Social Garden. You can follow him on Twitter or get in touch via LinkedIn.

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