Facebook’s Success in Singapore, and It’s Not Just the Social Network

Facebook should really give Singapore a medal for its loyalty. A look at numbers may give anyone ideas that Mr Zuckerberg has a mysterious influence on Singapore. In fact, four of Facebook’s social platforms are in the top 10 most actively used social platforms in Singapore. What are these platforms that are being used daily in Singapore, and what makes them so attractive? Today’s article will let us explore the factors behind the dominance of three of Facebook’s already well-loved social platforms in the ASEAN region.

Dominance? Really?

Why use the word “dominance”? This is because of the penetration of Facebook’s platforms in Singapore is much higher as compared to their colossal rivals. Below is a graphical look at the percentage of active Singaporean users on the various social networking platforms.

In case you still do not know, Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook in 19 February 2014. (Source: We Are Social)

Whatsapp hold the top spot in Singapore with 46% active users. Facebook is also getting more market share with its messaging app, Facebook Messenger (24%). Behind them are the chat apps WeChat and LINE, at 13% and 11% respectively.

Facebook is not only going strong on the messaging front. Its social networking platform also holds a steady 39%, while its rivals Twitter and Google+ are at 15% and 14% respectively.

>What we are looking at is the fact that Facebook has twice as much market share as compared to their next leading competitor in both instant messaging and social network. This is a very comfortable position for Facebook, as Singaporeans are stubborn towards adopting new platforms (while very ready to adopt new hardware, especially smartphones). Competitors may have to scale mountains in an effort to win more market share within the Singaporean market.

Facebook, Why You So Popular

The popularity of Facebook in Singapore comes from three factors. The first is the need. Singaporeans are no different from anyone in the world, and that is the human need to be social. To share what they are doing, to share where they have been, to connect with others. Events and Pages also allow peope of similar interest to communicate easily. Friendster (not so much of MySpace) was there first to fulfil that need. Facebook just did it better.

The second is Facebook’s formula. Every element of Facebook was to designed to be addictive. News Feed to ensure you get the latest news from friends. Filtered content to ensure its relevance to the user, maintaining their interest along, while increasing the length of time the platform is used.  And remember the introduction of “Relationship Status”? Boy, that was a game changer. It is not difficult to catch a Singaporean glimpsing through their Facebook feed for a few minutes everyday to catch up the day’s happenings.

The last is the audience tipping point. It is something that Twitter and Google+ couldn’t achieve when they launched in Singapore, that Singaporeans needed to have enough friends using the platform. Without enough early adopters, many platforms are unable to hit the critical audience tipping point to secure a foothold in the Singaporean market. This is probably one of the main reasons why some platforms roll out features and updates in Singapore, like Instagram’s advertising platform. Oh, that’s Facebook’s too!


Singapore has a very strong SMS (Short Messaging Service) culture. While some neighbouring countries have adopted the habit of using videos and sending of voice messages, messaging remains a staple form of communication for Singaporeans. High frequency of message exchanges also makes it the cheapest alternative (Singapore mobile networks are high in speed, but expensive to use).

Futhermore, Whatsapp allows the creation of chat groups, and use it to remain in contact with friends and families. It’s no hassle user interface and tightly designed message display makes it the choice messaging platform in Singapore, and Whatsapp has been reported to be more stable than LINE or WeChat.

Interesting to note, that cosmetic features that are available on WeChat and LINE (such as the sticker feature) do not impress much of the Singapore crowd. Also, if Whatsapp ever start charging for usage, they will lose the user base… to Facebook Messenger.


Facebook Messenger<
The Facebook messaging service used to be a part of Facebook's social network. Singapore did not see the complete migration of Facebook users (39%) into Facebook Messenger (24%), as Whatsapp had already a strong foothold in Singapore, meeting that messaging need.

Still, the Messenger app is an intrinsic part of the Facebook social net. Messenger can also be used on the desktop (Whatsapp has introduced a browser version, but is fousing on mobile only), which is a welcome change from squinting at only a small screen.

Messenger is set to venture into the business world, and there has been talk of it replacing emails! All these only hint of Messenger continued growth.

One more thing…
A final word of the success of these three apps: cross-platform was also a key. This may sound elementary, but the fact that Singapore is up to trend with the latest smartphone hardware makes this an easy take-for-granted candidate. Popular mobile devices in Singapore include the iPhone, the iPad, the various brands of Android phones, the rather new Windows phone entries. The top apps can be found on all of these devices, showing no obstacle in allowing one user to connect with another.

To Sum Up: The Opportunites

In what ways can businesses leverage on these platforms? Whatsapp would prove unwise to try, Facebook Messenger’s future has yet to come, so Facebook is businesses’ best Singaporean friend now.

There are 39% active Facebook users in Singapore. That is nearly 2 million users. Make good use of their advertising platform to advertise your page or website, or to promote your key posts, directly to this substantial audience. Facebook has done well to deliver traffic from highly targeted audience through their ad platform, and there is no slowing down.

One should note that a typical Singaporean Facebook user tends to complete his/her profile, viewable only by their circle of friends (and Facebook of course). While privacy in that manner remains debatable, Singaporeans continue to post their statuses and to share likes to Facebook, making their advertising platform a must for relevant marketers in Singapore.<

Facebook also plays a huge part in a Singaporean's consumption patterns. With almost constant access to the internet, Singaporeans look for two key online information sites other than on Google: Hardwarezone Forums and the company Facebook page. A lack of Facebook page indicates a lack of presence in the market, and poor reviews indicates a sub-standard service/product. Businesses would do well to own a Facebook strategy in Singapore.

Watsapp ads: a nuisance, and immediately blocked.

It is more difficult to promote in Whatsapp, and not recommended, because of its private nature. Every user signs up using phone number, and advertisers would need to get one to attempt a promotion on Whatsapp. Whatsapp is also unfriendly towards advertisers, in the way that users can block the phone numbers, as these advertisements are only nuisances. Until a proper platform is introduce, brands are likely to suffer in reputation through current methods.

There is no option to advertise on the Facebook Messenger yet. Tantalising though, eh? No doubt Facebook has big plans for Messenger, and with that will come new opportunities.

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