South Korea’s social media landscape is changing, with global websites finally starting to make inroads over local competitors. In February 2012, Facebook surpassed the reach of local social network Cyworld, according to a May 2012 report by Nielsen KoreanClick.
Social media is already a popular with the majority of internet users in South Korea, with three top activities, as reported by eMarketer:
- 84% of social media users read or kept a blog
- 74.6% participated in online communities (often organized by topics such as food, fashion and gaming)
- 68.3% maintained a “minihompy,” which is a unique, personalized online site (like a homepage or landing page) associated with Cyworld specifically
Other social media activities that have become hugely popular in other markets have – so far – found less success in South Korea, including profile-based social networks (18.4%) and microblogs (12.8%).
Data from the Korea Internet & Security Agency breaks down the demographics for South Koreans using social media, and also looks at the incidence of mobile use for social media access.
- Social media users rose .8% from 2010 to 2011, reaching 66.5% of all internet users
- Social media use via smartphone rose dramatically from 1.6% in 2010 to 31.5% in 2011
- Nearly 90% of those ages 20-29 used social media in 2011
- Males were slightly more likely to use social media than females, 68% vs. 64.7%
Social media use via smartphone will continue to grow rapidly; eMarketer projects that smartphone penetration will rise 76% in South Korea in 2012.
And Facebook is not the only global site trying to gain a foothold in South Korea – Google and Yahoo! are still trying to compete local portal and search engine Naver, and local blog network Tistory is still reigns over competitors like Tumblr or micro-blogging site Twitter.