Indonesia Eclipses the UK as Facebook’s Second Largest Market

[Editor's Note: The data cited in this article is excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook's business and growth around the world. Please see Inside Facebook Gold to learn more about our complete data and analysis offering.]

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian country that has nearly tripled its number of Facebook users over the past year, has finally eclipsed the United Kingdom as the second-largest Facebook market behind the United States. Its growth underpins Facebook’s emerging strength in Southeast Asia, a region has become strategic, rife with opportunities to push virtual goods and Credits.

As the world’s fourth more populous country, Indonesia promises to be one of Facebook’s key markets for years to come with 29.4 million users. Spread out across thousands of islands, Indonesia is a patchwork nation; the country’s official language Bahasa grew out of centuries of trading between hundreds of ethnic groups. Only a small minority of people in the country actually speak Bahasa as their primary language.

Initially when Facebook’s growth began accelerating, Muslim clerics debated the morality of the service, and were concerned that the social network would facilitate gossip and flirtation. The country’s leading Islamic council signaled that they were interested in regulating the social network the way they did with its predecessors Myspace and Friendster.

Nevertheless, Facebook continued growing, adding more than 17 million users in a single year and politicians and leading religious figures have come to embrace the site. The country’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has more than 480,000 thousand fans for his Facebook Page. Some of the country’s top Muslim clerics have started Pages too, like Chairul Tanjung, who sits on the board of Indonesia’s highest religious authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council.

Overall, Indonesia has a fairly young population and on Facebook, the 13 to 25 age groups are over-represented compared to the makeup of the company’s top 16 markets (see below).

Facebook also boasts 67 percent Internet penetration among the country’s 45 million Internet users, according to the country’s ISP association and data on the company’s users there. In addition, the country has a growing number of people accessing the web via mobile devices — about 9 million, according to Onno Purbo, a longtime information technologies activist in the country.

So Facebook’s mobile apps and 0, it’s low-bandwidth mobile site, will play an increasingly important role there. While the iPhone leads Facebook’s mobile presence globally, in Indonesia, Nokia is the device manufacturer with dominant share in the country. Blackberry and Android are also gradually closing in.

Anecdotally, developers tell us that social gaming is an important factor powering Facebook adoption in the region. And Facebook has moved to capitalize on that through a recent deal with Malaysian payments company MOL, which also has a presence in Indonesia.

To read more, and view data on Facebook’s growth and demographics in over 160 countries around the world, please see Inside Facebook Gold.

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12 Responses to “Indonesia Eclipses the UK as Facebook’s Second Largest Market”

  1. enda says:

    “…Only a small minority of people in the country actually speak Bahasa as their mother tongue..”

    The above is incorrect, almost all Indonesian speak Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian Language)

    Here’s a question, check the demographic, could anyone explained why from 29m FB user in Indonesia, 24m is in Jakarta which is the country capital? The total population in Jakarta is not even close to that number

    2nd, still there’s no convincing explanation to why Indonesia is the 2nd largest country on FB, what make it so popular here? There are some best guesses but not yet fully explained.

  2. Kim-Mai Cutler says:

    Are you sure that’s still incorrect with the last part? I said only a small minority of people speak it *as their mother tongue.*

    Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and at the moment, Facebook can’t get into China and India is only just beginning. If you looked at it as a pure numbers game, it’s not all that surprising that Indonesia would be second.

  3. azra says:

    Kim, you are correct. Only small minority of people here speak Bahasa Indonesia as our mother tongue. But, almost all of Indonesian *can* speak it.

    I think it is just expression that enda don’t get it.

    Yes, I am Indonesian…

  4. Ahmad Sofyan says:

    Kim-Mai is correct. as a mother tongue, Bahasa Indonesia is small minority, but its officially used in business, government and legal matter.

    Another guess, if Internet infrastructure penetration getting wider, the figure will enormously increase.

  5. Indonesia is now Facebook’s second largest market | e27 says:

    [...] updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet BoxIndonesia shot past the United Kingdom to become the second largest Facebook market after the United States, reports market research firm InsideFacebook. The number of Facebook users [...]

  6. Kim-Mai Cutler says:

    Thanks. @enda I think lots of people might choose Jakarta because there aren’t many other cities they can choose from?

    I talked to someone who works on these mobile, internationalization issues for Facebook and I don’t think the company’s leadership even fully understands why it’s popular in Indonesia. They haven’t really formally sent technical or business talent to the market yet to study it.

    I do think it’s partly a numbers game and partly the infrastructure. If you all have some thoughts, let me know!

  7. La revue du lundi par We Are Social #35 | we are social says:

    [...] dépasse le Royaume-Uni et devient le 2ème pays Facebook L’Indonésie a dépassé le Royaume-Uni la semaine dernière pour devenir le deuxième plus grand …, derrière les Etats-Unis. « La croissance de Facebook en Asie du Sud est le signe de sa [...]

  8. Mercoledì Social #31 | we are social says:

    [...] l’Indonesia sorpassa il Regno Unito La scorsa settimana si è registrato il sorpasso: l’Indonesia è il secondo paese con più utenti su Facebook dopo gli Stati Uniti. Solo nell’ultimo anno, la nazione asiatica, ha triplicato il numero di utenti sul social [...]

  9. Brand-Building | Indonesia, Asia’s new Social Media Hub | IDEAS INSPIRING INNOVATION says:

    [...] post, Indonesia has firmly secured its 2nd spot among global Facebook users, the biggest in Asia, having overtaken the UK in November. The reasons are many, for the chat-happy Jakartans, it’s an excellent way to remedy the [...]

  10. The Digital Revolution meets Diplomacy | Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum says:

    [...] to the most prolific Twitter users on the planet (over 20 percent of all computer users) and the second largest Facebook population. US e-diplomacyefforts in Indonesia have thrived, and while others have [...]

  11. Asiajin » Indonesia: Exploring Potentials Of Mobile & Tech In The 2nd Largest FB Population says:

    [...] in many news, it was obvious to hear that Facebook is widely used having 35 million users being the no. 2 in the world.  For Indonesian, being trendy is important so many uses Facebook and Twitter sharing their life [...]

  12. Indonesia: Exploring Potentials Of Mobile & Tech In The 2nd Largest FB Population | Anime Stuff says:

    [...] in many news, it was obvious to hear that Facebook is widely used having 35 million users being the no. 2 in the world.  For Indonesian, being trendy is important so many uses Facebook and Twitter sharing their life [...]

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