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By all measures Singapore is one of the most digital countries on Earth.  

Over 80% of its population is online and nearly every household has wired broadband, most of whom enjoy over 100 Mbps download speed.

And there are 1.5 mobile subscriptions for every person in Singapore (many people have more than one phone), and almost all of those have data plans.

But with so many digital services available now, is social media still relevant in Singapore?

What do the social platforms say?

Well one way to look is by looking at active users on social media. Facebook reports that there are 3.6m people in Singapore on its platform which is an astounding 63% of the online population.

And everywhere else you look, social media usage is on the rise.

But as I reported in another post, I have serious doubts about the accuracy of Facebook's data, so I thought it would be good to look for the answer another way.

What are brands doing?

Instead of looking at social media from the aspect of the users, I thought it might be illuminating to look at it from the perspective of the brands.  

That is, if a brand is updating its social media channels regularly, it means that it is finding business value in doing so.

And if brands are finding business value, then we can safely assume that people are active on the platform.

Methodology

To check brand activity on the platforms, I first made a list of brands across all consumer-facing industries and included companies in the apparel, banking, beauty, food and beverage, media, telecom, and travel industries.

Then I looked at how each of the brands used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Did the brand:

  • Update daily with local content,
  • Update frequently, but not daily, with local content,
  • Update occasionally with local content, or,
  • Not update or not provide local content.

It was surprising how easy it was to put a brand's activity into one of those categories. There were very few brands who flip-flopped between being active and inactive.  

In general, if a brand was active, its feed had regular posts and the social platform was certainly being monitored by someone at the company or an agency.

Once I had that data, I was able to discern how relatively important each platform was across Singapore. 

Platforms that were important were updated by brands across industries and enjoyed notable engagement from people on social media.

Platforms which were not being updated had little engagement with its posts and seemed relatively unimportant to both consumers and brands.

Below are a few observations from the data.

Most brands update social media daily 

Almost every brand (50 out of the 52 I looked at, or 96%) has local content on social media and updated it at least weekly.

Out of 52 brands, 36 (69%) update some social media channel every day.  Thirty-five (67%) update Facebook daily, 19 (37%) update Instagram daily, and 18 (35%) update Twitter every day.

And out of the 36 that update daily, 12 (33%) are dedicated to updating all three networks every day. 

Facebook is the most popular by far

Almost every brand viewed (96%) has localized content on Facebook and 10 brands (19%) update only Facebook, and no other networks.

The two brands (H&M and Heineken) who do not have local Facebook content have a global Facebook page and link to that from their website.

So Facebook's demise, for brands and consumers anyway, has been greatly exaggerated.

Tie for 2nd place: Twitter and Instagram

As for which network is the second most popular, it was very close. Twitter and Instagram have just about the same level of support from brands.

Thirty-five brands (67%) update Twitter regularly and 29 brands (56%) update Instragram at least weekly.

And there were almost the same number of brands who update Instagram daily (19) as who update Twitter every day (18). 

For those who update one but not the other, seven (13%) are updating Instagram daily, but not Twitter, and these are mostly apparel companies.

And five (10%) update Twitter every day, but not Instagram. These are are mostly media companies.

I expected to see Instagram performing well, but Twitter's popularity was quite a surprise.

And this is good news for Twitter. Despite all of the problems it is having with its corporate structure, it seems that Twitter's users and supporting brands still find the platform useful.

Other social networks are way behind

For the other social networks, the survey has some bad news. None of the other networks had any support at all from more than one in four brands.

Thirteen brands (25%) have Pinterest pages, but only two (Resort World Sentosa and Best Denki) had regular updates to their boards.  

The rest have stopped updating Pinterest and seem to have abandoned their pages.

Only 10 brands (19%) had an active LinkedIn page, and out of those only two updated it daily, both media sites.

And finally, eight brands (15%) still had links to a Google+ page, but I could only find one, Resort World Sentosa (RWS), who had regularly updating local content. 

RWS does, however, still update Google+ daily, so perhaps it knows something that the other brands don't?

Social icons are being removed from websites

Whereas once every brand website would beam its social icons with pride, now many brands are relegating social media icons to the bottom of the page or removing them entirely.

Six brands did not show the icons on their web page, including brands who have a big social media presence like IKEA and Uniqlo.

And seven brands did have social media icons on the page, but the icons were only to like or share the page, not actually go to the network. McDonalds and cinema chain Golden Village use social icons in this way.

Most of the rest had moved the icons to the bottom of the page, perhaps in hope that the visitor would not click away from the site.

So...

So social media is still alive and well with brands in Singapore. Most brands are still updating Facebook regularly and many of those are also updating another social channel, such as Twitter or Instagram.

And with this vote of confidence, and resource allocation, we can deduce that social media is still popular with consumers here with Facebook being the most important followed by Twitter and Instagram.

What is concerning, though, is that outside of the top three, brand support for social networks is very weak.

Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ are not getting a lot of attention from brands and this may be an indication that these platforms simply do not have enough activity to make it worthwhile for brands to invest scarce time and resources.

Of course, these platforms still do have their advocates and are used for personal, non-commercial purposes. But a lack of interest from brands does not seem like a sign of an active social network.

But, for now, if you are marketing in Singapore and updating at least one of the top three social networks, you are certainly in good company with many other major brands.

Jeff Rajeck

Published 11 February, 2016 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

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