According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, social networking is growing more rapidly in developing countries than in developed markets, where social network growth has already plateaued. The survey measured increases in the double-digits for social networking in emerging markets such as Russia, Indonesia and Mexico, and found that “people in lower income nations who have online access use social networking at rates that are as high, or higher, than those found in affluent countries.”
The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project from March 21 to May 15, and showed that social networking is most common in higher income nations – where residents also have higher rates of internet access. In developed nations like Israel and the U.S., half or more of the population say they use social networking websites.
In Ukraine (30%), Turkey (29%), Jordan (29%), and Egypt (28%) the percentage of users tends to be low because many do not use the internet at all; however, among those who are online, more are using social networking sites than not. This is a sharp contrast to some developed countries, like Germany and France, where the number of internet users who don’t use social networking sites outnumber those who do.
Though Brazil was not included in the Pew study, eMarketer quotes an F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi study that found 93% of internet users in Brazil engaged in social networking in August 2011.
Out of the countries studied, Russia and Indonesia actually had the highest penetration (86%) of social networking users among internet users in each country. In India 72% of internet users engaged in social media; this puts all three of these countries ahead of the U.S., which saw less than 60% of internet users participating in social networking online, as reported by eMarketer.
The study also noted the effect of political upheaval – especially when fueled by social media – on social network usage. While most countries saw little change in social networking use between 2010 and 2011, Egypt and Russia – both homes of recent political movements in which social media played a part – each saw an increase of 10% in social networking use.
The rapid growth of social networking across developing countries will only grow faster as mobile use (and internet access with it) becomes more widespread in the next several years.