Growth is not only in developing countries and growth in developing countries is good anyway.
There has been a lot of talk about Facebook’s growth happening only in developing countries and that it somehow dilutes the pool, lowering the value of its user base. Both assumptions are actually false. Growth is not only in developing countries and growth in developing countries is good anyway.
These are the top 10 countries in terms of Facebook % growth from the period of May 25, 2012 to August 25, 2012, covering the last three-month period. They are islands (Jersey, Mayotte and Guam) with relatively small populations, developing countries (Vietnam, Mozambique, Somalia and Iraq) with low penetration and a lot of potential, and relatively wealthy countries (Japan, the UK and Qatar).
Let’s look at the islands first. Jersey is one of the Channel Islands in the sea of offshore banking. There’s money in Jersey, lots of it. In the last three months, Jersey has almost doubled its Facebook user base and with a population penetration of 40.62%, it still has room to grow. Mayotte and Guam are even more remote, and as such, would benefit more from online sales, as product availability is generally limited on an island.
Vietnam, Mozambique, Somalia and Iraq are the ‘developing markets’ to varying degrees. Vietnam is booming and not only makes our list in terms of %, but also in sheer numbers of recent Facebook growth. The other three countries have very low penetration, but that in itself only represents even more potential. These high-growth, very low-penetration markets offer a current base of ‘first adopters’ that is very probably the wealthiest segment of the population. And the small, but growing, class of elites in the developing markets makes for easily targeted self-selecting social media campaigns aimed at those most likely to buy. Opportunities abound in emerging markets.
Japan, the UK and Qatar are among the richest countries in the world. The growth in Japan is phenomenal, and with only 10.63% of the population on Facebook, there’s plenty of room for more. Both Japan and the UK make both our growth charts in terms of raw numbers and percentage points. The UK actually tops our list according to sheer numbers; having added 8 212 900 new active Facebook users in the last three months, it is the fastest growing Facebook market. Which brings us to where the ‘real’ numbers growth is happening:
And yes, there are a few developing countries on that list, but these are also some of the largest and fastest growing economies in the world. Brazil and India are perfect examples. Again, we see relatively low population penetration for these two countries (India only 4.53%), which means the potential for further growth is greater. Both countries are abandoning Orkut in favor of Facebook, which provides a simple conversion to the more popular platform. Facebook.com is the #1 page in Brazil (with only 27.95% penetration), whereas Orkut is #25, even though the company is headquartered there. It is #3 in India, with Orkut coming in at #220. Much of the growth in these two countries is fueled by this ongoing shift to Facebook as well as by new users of social media.
The United States still tops the list in terms of largest Monthly Average User (MAU) base, but growth is relatively low, even with over 5.5 million new users in the last three months, it amounts to only a 3.54% increase. How is that growth somehow ‘more valuable’ than growth in Asia? Asia is Facebook’s largest growth center and its largest base with currently over 246 million active users – over 65 million just in the last year and with penetration still at only 6.36% – the sky is the limit.
Mobile appears to be the future of Facebook (more on that soon) and represents yet another big opportunity for business to expand into these emerging markets. As many markets are leap-frogging the fixed line for the smartphone, Facebook active user adds should take off as well.
Any new user is a potential customer. The idea that growth is only happening in developing countries or that it could be somehow negative, even if true, is false. The idea that the (internet-connected and social media savvy) wealthy of the developing world have less disposable income than an average 13-year-old American is false. The idea that a 65-year-old grandmother who signed up for Facebook just to keep in touch with her grandchildren is more likely to order electronics online than a Jersey banker is also false.
So, when there is talk about Facebook growth somehow being bad for the company, one must realize that growth is generally good in any business no matter where it comes from and Facebook is no exception. Make sure to visit our interactive Facebook country statistics page to keep up with the trends.
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