Asia is way ahead of US and Europe in social media usage says new GlobalWebIndex report

Asian markets top a new global social engagement league table that measures how often and how much consumers use social media platforms.

The Social Engagement Benchmark from GlobalWebIndex reveals that consumers in fast-growing economies are more likely to use a social network or a microblog, upload a photo or video or review a product or brand than consumers in more mature countries.

The most socially engaged group were high income earners in China (top 25 per cent) while the least active are 55-64 year olds in Japan. China leads with Indonesia and India next.

Lagging behind the Asian social powerhouses are countries including the US, Japan, Sweden, France and the UK that are traditionally viewed as mature and technologically advanced. In the country list the UK came 27th.

The league table was calculated using GlobalWebIndex data from 31 countries detailing how much consumers participate in social media, whether they create or upload content and whether they engage with brands via these platforms either to review products, like a brand or upload content to brand sites.

To count towards the Social Engagement Benchmark rankings, consumers must have carried out each task in the last month. Each key area – participation, creation and brand involvement – is scored out of 400 and the marks are added together and then converted to a percentage of the maximum 1200 score, which is then weighted to 100 point measure.

The Benchmark is platform neutral and measures total active use of social media rather than usage of specific global, regional or local platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Weibo.

The new Social Engagement Benchmark rankings highlight a number of key findings:

1/In emerging markets where millions of people are coming online every year, social media is a natural part of the internet experience. In markets where online activity grew dramatically before social became mainstream, such as the UK, US and Japan it is less integrated into everyday use.

2/While specific demographic groups may exhibit a higher or lower SEB than the market as a whole, market differences are consistent regardless of age. While younger, higher income people with a higher educational attainment all have a higher SEB in all markets, the gaps between markets remain the same.

3/Brands need to recalibrate where they invest in digital and where they invest in social media in particular. With emerging markets demonstrating a higher level of engagement, the target audiences that can be reached via social media in emerging markets are often larger than those in more mature markets. Despite significantly lower internet penetration India, Brazil and Russia for example all have larger numbers of socially engaged consumers than Germany, the UK or Japan.

“What this report reveals is that we need to rethink how we classify countries when it comes to social media. Emerging markets like China, India and Brazil have consumers who are far active than those in so-called mature markets like the US, UK and Sweden. Thanks to this high engagement, social media reaches more of the total population,” says Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex. “There is a huge opportunity for brands to connect via these channels but it’s not always in the markets they think.”

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