Social, Digital and Mobile in Indonesia

Simon Kemp

As promised in our overview of Social, Digital and Mobile in Asia yesterday, we’re excited to share the first of our individual country reports: Indonesia.

We’ve chosen to start with Indonesia for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s one of the most social countries in the world. Indonesia has long had the second largest global population on Facebook, and their use of Twitter regularly makes social media headlines too. A recent Global Web Index survey reinforced this fact, illustrating that, together with Filipinos, Indonesian internet users are some of the most social people on earth.

More than this, it’s the way people use social media in Indonesia the excites us though. On a recent trip to Jakarta, I was lucky enough to spend some time speaking to a number of teenagers about their use of different social media, and they talked about these platforms in almost the same way as they’d talk about money.

Indonesian youth see social media as an everyday necessity, and they’ll readily sacrifice other ‘luxuries’ to ensure their phones have sufficient credit to access mobile data (or find ‘inventive’ ways of getting free access!).

When we gave them the choice between an internet-friendly laptop or a top-of-the-range moped (which, until recently, was the item that topped most Indonesian teenagers’ wishlists), the answer was unequivocal: laptop!

However, many of the people we spoke to pointed out that a 3G iPad would be even more attractive, because so much of their internet use is on the go.

Indonesian youth use social media to stay in touch with each other while out and about. It’s not just a way to catch up with each other every few days – it’s often the primary form of immediate contact.

In particular, they talked about Twitter in much the same way we might think of SMS. One interviewee said that Twitter was “the new BBM” – something which has particular weight in Indonesia. Blackberry is still a handset of choice amongst many tech-savvy Indonesian teens, but the ability to use social media to connect with anyone on any device makes platforms like Twitter an essential part of their communications arsenal.

Listening to what our interviewees were saying, it’s clear that Indonesian youth is championing ‘mobile social’ in a way that we expect will spread to many other Asian and Western markets in the coming months.

As a result, we believe that understanding what’s happening in the social, digital and mobile landscape in Indonesia is crucial to understanding where things are headed in many different parts of the world.

We’d love to hear your observations and thoughts too, so do share those in the comments.

And look out for another country overview tomorrow!