Malaysians Are Friendliest, With An Avg. 233 Friends in Social Networks

Consumer research company TNS has released “Digital Life,” the “world’s largest study into consumers’ digital behaviours and attitudes ever conducted.”  It’s based on a September 2010 study of online behaviour and perspectives in 46 countries.*

Developing/rapid-growth markets are the most avid users of social networks.

The study found that social networking has become a mainstream activity among online consumers around the world:  globally, 86% have used social networks, and 46% visit them daily. These penetration numbers are even higher in many markets, especially in rapid-growth markets such as South Eastern Europe (56% daily users), China (54%) and Latin America (54%).

These markets are also more likely to be engaged in creating social content:

  • 88% of users in China and 51% of  those in Brazil have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32% in the US
  • the number of online consumers who have ever uploaded photos to social networks or photo sharing sites is 92% in Thailand, 88% in Malaysia and 87% in Vietnam, compared to lower numbers in more developed markets such as Japan (28%) and Germany (48%)

The role of mobile.

Growth in social networking has been fueled by the transition to mobile:  mobile users spend an average of 3.1 hours per week on social networking sites, compared to just 2.2 hours on email.

Research also shows that consumers expect their use of social networking on mobiles to increase more than their use through PCs. In the US, 26% of online consumers expect their use of social networking on a PC to increase in the next 12 months, compared to 36% who will increase their mobile usage. In Australia the figures are 26% and 44% respectively, and in Sweden they are 28% and 53%.

More Social than Email.

Online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn than on email. In rapid growth markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and China, the average time spent, per week, on social networking is 5.2 hours, compared to only 4 hours on email.  In mature markets, online consumers remain more reliant on email, spending 5.1 hours checking their inboxes compared to just 3.8 hours on social networking. The heaviest users of social networking are in Malaysia (9 hours per week), Russia (8.1 hours per week) and Turkey (7.7 hours per week).

Who’s the Friend-liest?

When it comes to who has more friends, online consumers in Malaysia top the list with an average of 233 friends in their social network, closely followed by Brazilians with 231. The least social are the Japanese with just 29 friends, behind Tanzania (38) and South Korea (50).  Chinese consumers only have an average of 68 friends in their networks despite being heavy users of social networking sites, indicating a culture that embraces fewer but closer friendships.

WPP’s Digit unit has created a (super fancy) interactive tool to explore some of the research results:

*A total of 48,804 people aged 16 to 60 years old were interviewed in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, UK, USA and Vietnam.