Far East

Far East

Digital marketing in Indonesia: interview with agency Stratego

14 Jun 2013



We often happen to talk about indonesia. With a population of over 240 million people and an extremely fast-growing Internet penetration – today about 60M people in the country have access to the World Wide Web – it is one of the most relevant players in the Asian digital scenario. Which, by the way, already accounts for 45% of global Internet users.

Aside from the numbers, we’ve been also exploring the way SNS are used over there, and we discovered that Indonesia – Java Island in particular – is the most Twitter-active area of the world, with social media are enabling both citizens and brands to organize new ways of communicating, with some very peculiar stories.

That’s why we decided to have a talk with Pitra Satvika (aka @Pitra): he lives in Jakarta, where he runs a digital agency, and is a keen observer of the Indonesian social media landscape.

Here we go!


– Hi Pitra, first of all let us know what you guys do at Stratego.

Hi Guido, Stratego is a small digital agency based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Basically, we handle two kinds of interactive projects: online and offline. We come up with strategy, idea, content, and develop application for brand campaigns on social media. Now we also develop iOS based application for mobile-based brand engagement. We also develop motion sensor-based applications for brand activations during offline events. More information about Stratego can be found on our website, and on our Tumbls (here and here).

Brand campaigns happen everyday in Indonesia. There are many great campaigns, though there are some that also have flaws. I felt there was a need to archive these campaigns for further studies, so since 2012 Stratego started collecting and archiving many digital campaigns from Indonesia, whether it’s based on social media, mobile, or event/offline engagement.

The first white-paper covering Indonesia’s social media landscape in 2012 was released on January 2013. Currently, we’re archiving more and more campaigns, and hopefully the full report can later be released on early 2014. Monthly summaries of Indonesia’s campaigns can be read on this Slideshare channel.


– Before digging deeper on the campaigns you manage, let’s talk about Indonesia. With about 60M internet users, it’s one of the most interesting areas in the world in terms of social media development. Facebook, Twitter, Mig33, WeChat: what do you think are the most important platforms today, and which ones do you think will last in the long run?

Recent update data of digital population in Indonesia says there are 65 million Facebook users, and 31 million Twitter users, with 18.5 millions active users (login at least once a month).

The big two platforms in Indonesia are Facebook and Twitter, with most users accessing the website via mobile connections. Major telco operators in Indonesia provide free data for accessing Facebook and Twitter mobile sites.

Facebook is mainly used to connect with old friends and families. The popularity of Facebook is now decreasing, since more users are moving to Twitter. Also, several users that feel unease of Facebook, began to move their network connection to Path mobile application. With only 150 limited friends, Path is becoming the medium for social connection among close friends and relatives. They feel annoyed because of Facebook ads and the behavior of online sellers, who usually spam tagging them within products’ pictures.

And there’s more: Facebook Places is not working out here in Indonesia. Users prefer to check in now with Path. They feel safer to share their information to only their limited friends, than share it publicly on Facebook.

Brand campaigns on Facebook are still happening. There are still many active users, usually outside of Indonesia’s biggest cities that use Facebook to connect with one another. Brands can still connect with users on Facebook, if they can deliver good contents. In my opinion, brand campaigns that generate more leads are the simplest ones: share written posts or photo competitions.

Other platforms are currently rising, such as YouTube, with a lot of people creating video series – and several successful ones, like humor site MalesBanget. I can’t say more about Mig33 since I’ve not received the latest data yet (we talked about Mig33 on this posteditor’s note). Then we have Kaskus, which is still the biggest local forum, for conversation and trade.




Currently there’s a strong competition for user acquisitions by mobile messaging platform. WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE have intensively promote their products online. Their ads can also be seen on television too. However, aside of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the WhatsApp chat app has been used by many users way before WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE arrive in Indonesia’s scene. As in many other countries, WhatsApp has been considered an alternative to connect BlackBerry users to other mobile platforms.


– So Twitter is now definitely “the place to be”. How do people (and brands) use it?

Twitter has become the most happening social media in Indonesia. All are being talked on Twitter. During a live TV events, Twitter has become the second window for television. Conversations on Twitter always happened during news breaking event.

An interesting habit of Indonesia’s politicians/social activists/motivators on Twitter is to do “kultwit” (Kuliah Twitter, which means Twitter Lecture), by tweeting sequential messages associated to numbers. They use Twitter to aggregate news instead of blogging, since they can receive instant reaction from other users.

Several popular users – either personal or pseudonym account – with big followers and engagement have opportunity to earn money from Twitter. They became known as buzzers: they facilitate brands in communicating brand messages. Twitter official ads came just a few months ago; previously brands engaged those so-called buzzers to promote their marketing message on Twitter.

Twitter will remain as the top used microblogging in the upcoming years. People will still stay using the platform.


– Indonesia also got worldwide attention for politics-related discussion on social media: how big you think is Internet’s impact on society and public debate?

Last year during the election of Major of Jakarta, some of the candidates tried to gain influence via Twitter, by promoting their programs and discussing the city problems on the microblog. Users may learn more about the candidate’s background, and ask the candidate directly. Of course, not all of candidates’ social media activities are done by themselves, as they have their own digital agency team to help them out.

Both winners of the elections – Jokowi (city major) and Ahok (vice major) – have a positive sentiment on Twitter, and that happened because both of them have excellent reputation in the past. Having good communication on social media doesn’t mean anything if the candidates don’t have great portfolios of leadership and skills on their previous government position.


Twitter Politics Indonesia


Another interesting thing: both Jokowi and Ahok recorded all their daily activities on YouTube, as they hope that citizen of Jakarta can check what they are doing daily, and give critics directly to them.

Currently Indonesia’s president has official twitter account (@SBYudhoyono) with over 2.4 million followers. However the President still not use social media extensive. It’s just another channel for official communication. Rarely can be seen him responding directly to other tweets. Twitter is still a one way communication for the president – as you can see on slide 10-11 of this report:



There’s also a lot of social related activism happening on Twitter. It has become the platform for coordination, spreading information, and asking support for any kind of social activities.

Few samples are: @IDBerkebun, that coordinates activities of Indonesia Berkebun in many cities. Indonesia Berkebun is an activity that helps use vacant and abandoned land on cities for planting and gardening. Hopefully this activity can give more revenue to city farmers, while giving more green space to already populated cities.


Indonesia Twitter


There’s also @ID_AyahAsi, a community of Indonesian United Breastfeed-Supporting Fathers. They spread information on how father can help his wife by supporting breastfeeding, with over 80K followers on Twitter.


– Jakarta is the most Twitter-active city in the world, Bandung ranks among the top 10; is there a huge difference in Internet development between big cities and more rural areas?

Unfortunately yes. People in big cities can enjoy internet cable, quite fast with reasonable price. However it’s not available in other smaller cities. Currently the best option is to use 3G connection provided by big telcos. Not quite fast, but at least can you stream a Youtube movie on mobile connection.

However 3G connection is not distributed evenly on many parts of Indonesia. And the other alternative is going to a nearby “warnet” (internet cafes).


Warnet Indonesia



– Back to work: what kind of clients do you mainly work for? National or international brands?

We work for a various kinds of clients. Our main client currently is Philip Morris Indonesia: we handle Dji Sam Soe brand’s digital campaigns (Dji Sam Soe is a brand of “kretek”, cigarettes wrapped with tobacco leaves and other flavors, extremely popular in Indonesia, editor’s note).

We also partner with other digital agencies such as Wunderman Indonesia, to deliver Nokia’s many digital campaigns on Facebook (where they have over 600K fans).


NOKIA Indonesia


– Can you name the two campaigns you’re most proud of?

Dji Sam Soe’s Potret Mahakarta Indonesia that is currently live (, although it only can be accessed from Indonesia). The site is restricted for 18 years old, so the communication channel is really limited.

The idea is to become the site for Indonesian photographers to share the beauty of Indonesia. Users may earn points by submitting photos and playing games. Those points can be redeemed for many kind of merchandises. There are also offline activities where the brand sponsored photography hunting or workshop event. Users may submit the photo offline through available desktop app. Registration for the site can also be done via iPad that is distributed on several offline brand events.


Dji Sam Soe Indonesia


Nokia Eksismeter is another cool campaign that went live two years ago. This was probably the first brand campaign in Indonesia that used Facebook and Twitter API intensively. Users could check how popular they were on Twitter and Facebook. The number of followers, friends, comments, likes, etc were counted – and the campaign was later adapted to several countries.


Nokia Eksismeter


– As far as we can see, brands are investing more and more on digital media; are investments on social media platforms still increasing or you think Indonesia reached a saturation point?

I believe investment on social media platforms are still increasing. Seeing many social media campaigns happening at the same time is a sign. There are about 10-15 big campaigns happening every month by different brands. That’s not including small campaigns, are happening daily on Twitter and Facebook page.

Currently Samsung is one of many brands that really expansive in Indonesia. Each of their division: mobile, electronics, camera has its own unique campaigns in social media.


Samsung Indonesia


However, with many campaigns that are happening right now, I can say that there’s already nothing new in terms of creativity. The idea is recycle over and over again. Hopefully there will be other exciting campaigns happening in the near future!


– Last question: have you seen any interesting campaign in Indonesia integrating new media (social) and “old” media, such as TV or outdoor?

There are several campaigns – for example by many Unilever brands – that bring social media to offline events. Users attend to the event, they receive an RFID bracelet, register the bracelet by using Facebook Connect and Twitter OAuth, and are then enabled to do many activities on the event. Their every activities can then be automatically shared to Facebook and Twitter.

There have been quite a few social-TV campaigns too: the latest one using social media and TV has been KFC Adu Bintang. You can find it on slide 18 of this report:



It’s a live TV show where several celebrities do a song fight. Each celebrity is given certain hashtag. The winner of the show is the one who received the highest number of hashtag mentions on Twitter.

– Thanks Pitra!

Guido Ghedin

Guido Ghedin

After his University years between Italy and California, today he deals with Market Research and Digital Scenario Analysis at Young Digitals. You can follow him on Twitter: @guido_ghedin.


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