As Twitter and several similar microblogging services are on the rise, Facebook too is seeing a major increase in local Korean membership.

While Facebook’s penetration of online users of Korea is amongst the world’s lowest at 5.27% with approximately 620,000 users, the user base is growing at a rapid 23%, which is ranked 5th in the world.

While user base demographic data for western countries such as the USA and Great Britain are similar in nature (see below), it is obvious that Korean user demographic is substantially different; for both USA and GB, approximately half the user base was formed by those in age group 18 to 34 (59% and 63% respectively) – the same age group in Korea, however, was responsible for about three quarters of the user base (83%). Another example of Korean demographic skew is observed in older age groups; in USA and GB, users of age 45 and above were responsible for 32% and 26% of user base respectively while the same group in Korea only composed 16% of total user base.

This brings to one conclusion of Facebook user base in Korea. This raises another question: is this just the case for Korea, or is this generally the case for Asian countries?

Another comparison between user base of Korea, China and Japan answers this question clearly. Facebook users in age group of 18-34 were responsible for 87% and 76% of total user base in China and Japan respectively, which is similar to Korea’s 83%. As for users of older age group (45 and above), China and Japan showed 15% and 19% respectively, compared to Korea’s 16%.

While this comparison of Facebook user demographic is rudimentary to draw any deep conclusions, the pattern is clear; countries where English is used predominantly show more even distribution of user demographic than those where another language besides English is used predominantly. Other English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia show the similar demographic pattern as that shown by USA and GB. Non-English speaking Asian nations such as Taiwan, Philippines, and Thailand show the similar demographic pattern as that shown by Korea, China and Japan.

So what does all this mean to Facebook?

Facebook will reach, if it hasn’t already, a saturation point in English-speaking countries; if continuing user base growth were Facebook’s main objective, the company must focus on other countries (e.g. Asian countries) with localized marketing strategies to cater to user base with the different demographic pattern shown in English-speaking nations.

9 Comments

  1. April 14, 2010 at 7:27 am — Reply

    the question is whether facebook is actually going to make a concerted effort in the region or specific countries, or whether they will just be content with organic growth. Way too often is it the latter. It still surprises me often these companies miss significant opportunity to make a TRUE impact on the market by not treating Korea as the stepping stone to Asia that it is.

  2. April 15, 2010 at 8:46 am — Reply

    only time will tell. hopefully the 1-employee office will expand to accommodate a few hundred in the next coming years! can't do anything without local manpower even if you're facebook… heh

  3. Victor
    April 16, 2010 at 9:21 am — Reply

    Nothing too surprising about the statistics there. Facebook is a “mature” service in the U.S. with larger recognition so naturally, the demographics are going to be more evenly distributed. I like the insight in the last paragraph. If Facebook wants a chance at anywhere near the market penetration Cyworld has in the market, they are going to need a better effort in the country.

  4. […] everywhere else. Facebook still remains a relative unknown in Korea but it’s currently gaining traction amongst the 18-34 demographic. Before the iPhone, virtually none of my Korean friends were on Facebook. Since its release, almost […]

  5. Victor
    June 24, 2010 at 8:52 am — Reply

    Read an interview with Mark Zuckerberg alluding that there are around a million Facebook users in Korea.

  6. June 24, 2010 at 11:55 pm — Reply

    nice! that's about twice what I figured.

  7. Victor
    June 25, 2010 at 12:51 am — Reply

    Here's the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jun/23/mar…“Zuckerberg added that in Russia Facebook had just 1 million users, the kind of numbers that saw AOL sell off Bebo and ITV relinquish Friends Reunited. But in Facebook's case, growth is “doubling every six months”, according to Zuckerberg, and Japan and Korea have similar user bases.”

  8. June 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm — Reply

    hmm.. sound a little purposefully vague. 1. its unclear if the growth rate is the same for those countries (doubling every 6 months) or just the number of users. 2. If it is near same user base (1 million in Korea) … that is not only more than I'd think, I still wonder what the breakdown is. That is, it may just be that FB has pretty saturated the foreigners or international Koreans (or “kyopo” types) in Korea–which actually is about correct for estimates of number of “international”/foreigners in Korea. ie: I wonder how many of those are “native” Koreans… I'd be surprised if it was more than a single digital percentage. That said, I do see more and more “native” Koreans on FB…but ironically… often as a feed from Korean Twitter users. I have yet to see a 100% exclusively Korean to Korean Facebook usage.

  9. June 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm — Reply

    hmm.. sound a little purposefully vague. 1. its unclear if the growth rate is the same for those countries (doubling every 6 months) or just the number of users. 2. If it is near same user base (1 million in Korea) … that is not only more than I'd think, I still wonder what the breakdown is. That is, it may just be that FB has pretty saturated the foreigners or international Koreans (or “kyopo” types) in Korea–which actually is about correct for estimates of number of “international”/foreigners in Korea. ie: I wonder how many of those are “native” Koreans… I'd be surprised if it was more than a single digital percentage. That said, I do see more and more “native” Koreans on FB…but ironically… often as a feed from Korean Twitter users. I have yet to see a 100% exclusively Korean to Korean Facebook usage.

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