Far East

Far East

From customer care to religion, the Twitter explosion in Indonesia

12 Feb 2013



Social media in Indonesia literally exploded over the last few years.

There’s a BBC post from February 2012 that framed the situation quite clearly – starting from the title “Indonesia’s love affair with social media“:

“This is one of the most Twitter and Facebook-friendly nations on Earth. A higher proportion of Indonesian internet users sign on to Twitter than in any other country. Indonesia is also home to the world’s third-largest number of Facebook users (47 million users).”


In the last decade, a democratic environment and a strong economic growth – together with the fact that over 50% of the population is under 30 years old – contributed in the large diffusion of Internet and social technologies: the web domain .id will soon become the most used in South East Asia, since predictions say 300K new domains will be registered in the country over the course of 2013.

Several observers defined Indonesia as the world “social media capital”, considering the booming figures of Facebook and Twitter penetration.

Other than that, Indonesia has been showing a high penetration of more local social media platforms: lets’s think about Singapore-based social entertainment platform and microblog Mig33, which has its stronger userbase right in Indonesia.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the international expansion of WeChat – booming mobile app from China – has seen its first marketing efforts in Indonesia, and a year ago year Finnish social-games development house Rovio chose Jakarta as the city where to announce to the Angry Birds integration with Facebook.


Twitter in Indonesia

But if there’s one social network that can clearly show us how important are digital media in Indonesia – both from the cultural and marketing standpoint – that social network is definitely Twitter.

As we can see in this graph by Semiocast – found while reading a cool article called Using social media Strategically in Indonesia – among the top 10 of the most “tweeting cities” in the world we find 2 Indonesian ones:

 Twitter in Indonesia

Of course we’re not talking about small towns: Jakarta has more than 10 million people (over 28 in the metro area), Bandung over 2M (7,5M in the metro area). And Indonesia – with 238 million people – is the world’s fourth most populous country. One more reason to pay close attention to what is happening in here.

Little side note: here’s a blog post by the Songkick co-founder and CEO Ian Hogarth, where he talks about the strong diffusion of Twitter, Path, Whatsapp and Fursquare diffusion amongst youngsters in Jakarta. The title of the post is quite curious: Does social media use in Indonesia predict Facebook’s decline?

“People seemed to be churning through social apps incredibly quickly, trying out everything, getting hooked on some, getting bored of others far more quickly than in the UK or US. It felt like watching the story of social media play out in fast forward.”


Twitter marketing in Indonesia

The high diffusion of Twitter in the country is clearly reflected in what happens in the Indonesian marketing world.

Looking at what brands do on Twitter, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to run into some great examples, especially for what concern a crucial aspect of the relationship between service providers and consumers: customer care.

Dozens of companies are using the microblog as the perfect place where to interact with their clients. And tech-related local companies are the ones doing it better.

Cellular service provider Indosat  and HomeCable company First Media are extremely active, while telco companies Axiata amd Telkomsel count respectively over 170K and 100K followers.


Indonesia Twitter


But local companies aren’t the only one to show huge figures: Blackberry Indonesia has over 100K followes on Twitter, and counts over 3 million fans on the global Facebook page – not very far from the amount of US fans (source: Social Bakers).


Cultural, educational and religious movements

Of course social media had a strong impact on the information system too; the social, religious and political debate are getting a whole new meaning, and the power of influencers is redefined by a medium like Twitter.

A quick example? Jakarta-based TV journalist Desi Anwar has now over 215 thousands followers on the microblog, and in 2011 she decided to publish a book with all her tweets, called Tweets for Life.

New generations are often the focus of technology development: as Tech In Asia reported in a nice post about educational startups in Indonesia, telco company Telkomsel is planning on enabling high schools to get access to internet, with the aim of installing 100,000 hotspots in the country by the end of the year.

Being Indonesia the largest Muslim country, of course even the religious debate is a key topic – and once again Twitter is a key player on this. As this interesting Jakarta Post’s article says, there’s a whole new movement of online-active clerics preaching moderate Islam to young generations – like in the case of 80K-followers-strong preacher Salahuddin Wahid.

“As we know, in recent times, Muslim hard-liners have disseminated their teachings through online media. The presence of moderate clerics on the Internet has given new optimism for disseminating moderate teachings to Indonesian Muslims. In addition, preaching through social media might serve as an effective tool for deradicalization.”


The Twitter account of Indonesian Islam leader Mustofa Bisri


The online-fueled Indonesian political debate has been recently able to make it to worldwide news, especially after the misogynist comment of politician Daming Sanusi about rape, in mid January 2013. Here’s what she said:

“Consideration needs to be taken thoroughly for the imposition of death penalty for a rapist because in a rape case both the rapist and the victim enjoy it.”

This (obviously) generated strong criticism all over Indonesia population, and social media – Twitter in particular – played a major role in turning it into a widespread anti-rape mass movement:


social media indonesia


And after this popular outburst of indignation, the lady apologized – obviously in a tearful television appearance.

After all, social media can change a lot of things, but you still can’t beat the magic, healing effect of a politician crying in front of a camera.

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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