malaysian-social-networkMalaysians are reported to be the biggest users of social networks, accumulating more online friends than any other country. Whilst their close counterparts over in Japan are reported to have the least number of friends on social networks like Facebook. Despite being renowned as one of the most technologically advanced nations, it seems the Japanese are way behind when it comes to making digital friends!

This revelation is part of a wider group of findings from a new study named the Digital Life research project. The study explores people’s online activities and behaviour and claims to the largest of its kind. The global study was undertaken by popular custom research company TNS, who announced their findings on the10th October 2010.

Malaysia topped the list with users having an average of 233 digital friends across social networks, closely followed by the Brazilians, who have on average 231 friends on social networks.

I wonder if perhaps the reason that Japanese respondents have a less than average amount of social networking friends might be something to do with their culture?

The Japanese culture is based on personal relationships and thrives on face to face contact. So perhaps despite the digital revolution and technological advances, the Japanese still prefer to keep their friendship networks offline?

Another factor  is that  Japan has its own, very popular network which dominates the country called Mixi – so it could be that the study only accounted for users on the main stream global channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace. However I contacted TNS Digital Life on Twitter to find out exactly what social networks were included in the study, and they informed me that the number of friends is the total sum of friends from all the networks they are on, regardless of platform – so that knocks that argument!

What else did the research show?

The research claims to have covered nearly 90% of the world’s online population through 50,000 interviews with consumers in 46 countries; the study reveals major changes in the world’s online behaviour.
Here are some of the key findings:

  • Globally, people who have on-line access have digital sources as their number one media channel. 61% of online users use the Internet daily against 54% for TV, 36% for Radio and 32% for Newspapers.
  • Online consumers in rapid growth markets have overtaken mature markets in terms of engaging with digital activities. When looking at behaviour online, rapid growth markets such as Egypt (56%) and China (54%) have much higher levels of digital engagement than mature markets such as Japan (20%), Denmark (25%) or Finland (26%). This is despite mature markets usually having a more advanced Internet infrastructure.
  • Activities such as blogging and social networking are gaining momentum at huge speed in rapid growth markets.
  • Growth in social networking has been fuelled by the transition from PC to mobile. Mobile users spend on average 3.1 hours per week on social networking sites compared to just 2.2 hours on email. The drive to mobile has increased the need for instant gratification, with the multiple message formats available from social networks, including the instant message or update functions, consumers no longer have to wait. When looking at how the digital landscape will change in the future, research shows that consumers expect their use of social networking on mobiles to increase more than use through a PC.
  • Goodbye email, hello social networking. One further finding showed that online consumers are, on average, spending more time on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn rather than on email, despite the former only becoming mainstream in many markets over the last few years. 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. Does the demise of email open the door to more market share and improved capabilities on social networks? I wonder what the future will bring!

For more information on the study and the findings visit the website: www.discoverdigitallife.com

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