Indonesians Embracing the Social Media Culture
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Indonesians Embracing the Social Media Culture
With a population of approximately 248 million people, Indonesia is the 4th most populous countries in the world. Now, Indonesia is one of the fastest growing economies of the world and one main reason for the fast growth can be attributed to the development and progress of social medias inside the country. So let’s take a look on how social medias have grown in the hearts of these Indonesians.
On 10 November, 2010 at University of Indonesia, President Obama made a speech to the millions and one of the things he talked about is his childhood life in Indonesia. He mentioned that “Jakarta looked very different in those days. The city was filled with buildings that were no more than a few stories tall.” (For those of you who don’t know, Obama had lived in Indonesia during the 60’s for couple of years.)
President Obama then went on with stories about how Indonesia had changed a lot since last visit. However most importantly, he emphasized on”a new generation of Indonesians is among the most wired in the world - connected through cell phones and social networks.
Obama’s statement is true. In 2011, there are approximately 236 million cell phone users in Indonesia. There are also around 55 million internet users in Indonesia. These are large numbers but these numbers came as a surprise too considering that Indonesia only had short histories with these technologies.
Internet had just entered Indonesia around 20 years ago and most people don’t even have their own personal computer back at those times. However if you go to Indonesia now, particularly Jakarta, almost everywhere you will see that a lot of Indonesians are completely absorbed with their Smartphone and laptops due to the fact that they’re always connected to the internet wherever they go.
Are Indonesians in love with the internet and its social media?
“Obsessed” is the correct word to describe Indonesians’ fascination with the internet and social media. In mid-2000, the website Friendster is one of the earliest social platforms that were introduced to the Indonesians. At that time, Friendster was an unknown concept for Indonesians but it didn’t take long for Friendster to be the talk of the town. Not just Friendster, MSN’s Windows Live Messenger had a pretty successful run with the Indonesians because chatting on a real time basis through the computers is a new concept back then therefore a lot of Indonesians find it to be really “cool”.
The madness doesn’t stop there. Friendster, MSN and other smaller social networking sites had their share of success but once Facebook entered the Indonesians’ radar, it was like Friendster all over again but at a larger scale. According to an Indonesian article, Indonesians are ranked fourth just behind U.S, India and Brazil as the country with the most Facebook users in the world. Indonesians are commonly known to be very social and love to chat therefore Facebook is perceived as having the complete package and fits the Indonesian culture very well.
Another tool that had increased Indonesians’ love to social media is the free messaging programs such as Blackberry Messenger or Whatsapp! Before Blackberry or iPhone were introduced in Indonesia, people usually use SMS to contact others. Indonesians like the SMS concept mainly because it’s fast, reliable and very cost efficient. However once these Smartphones were introduced, everyone started to change to Smartphone because they can connect with their friend for free (Indonesians love bargains!). This has in turn increases the demand for Smartphone and also by owning these technologies; people have an easier access to their Facebook and Twitter as well!
These social medias indeed had helped 55 million Indonesians to become connected to the world. However when we think about it, isn’t 55 million Indonesians are just 22% of the country’s population?
How is it possible that only 22% of Indonesians use the internet on a daily basis but they still have a large number of social media users compared to the rest of the world?
Other than the Java Island of Indonesia and Bali, many parts of Indonesia are still very rural. People barely had electricity therefore internet seems to be fairly unknown in those areas. However Indonesia has been growing really rapidly in the last few years, the living standards have also increased and this could indicate that more people are going to be exposed to the net in a near future.
With so many opportunities and possibilities in Indonesia, think about the implications that it could have for business. Right now, there have been a lot of huge foreign companies that had opened their branch in Indonesia just because they see a lot of potential in Indonesian market. One of them is Apple who is finally opening official Apple stores in Indonesia. Apple realized that Indonesia has a lot of Apple products users and potential customers that they could penetrate.
Similar to doing business in any other countries, doing business in Indonesia could be a challenge if it’s following the traditional method. One simply needs to think outside of the box and using social media creatively could be one of the possible solutions. Many Indonesian companies had tried to implement social media in their corporate culture and the results are that some had succeeded while others had failed.
However don’t be discouraged; social media still has a great future in Indonesia. It is still a relatively new concept for many Indonesians. Therefore let them adapt first to the culture and I’m sure that it will eventually be a success especially knowing that Indonesians are going to be more tech-savvy in the future!