A Comparative Analysis of the Adoption Rates of Social Networking and Microblogging between Industrialized and Developing Nations

Article excerpt


In recent years the world has seen a seismic expansion of social broadcast behavior on the worldwide web. The rapid adoption of online social interaction services and applications is not limited to modern technologically advanced countries. In January 2010 The Economist reported the following information on the growth and broad global reach of this phenomenon. The globe's largest online social network boasts over 350m users--which, were it a nation, that would make Facebook the world's third most populous after China and India. That is not the only striking statistic associated with the business. Its users now post over 55m updates a day on the site and share more than 3.5 billion pieces of content with one another every week. As it has grown like Topsy, the site has also expanded way beyond its American roots: today some 70% of its audience is outside the United States (The Economist, 2010).

Web based social interaction is taking root in a significant number of developing countries. The sheer size of the populations of developing nations combined with the continued proliferation of mobile internet access within them makes the growth potential for web based social broadcasting great in these countries. China and other emerging markets throughout the world will account for 75% of the world's total growth in the next two decades and beyond, according to U.S. Department of Commerce estimates (Cateora et. al, 2009). Therefore, web based social interaction may provide marketers an important way promote their products and services within these countries.

This paper provides and analysis of a emerging trend in online social interaction service adoption for Brazil Russia, India and China also known as the (BRIC) countries and also for so-called newly industrialized countries (NICS) such as Malaysia and Mexico using data collected from a global panel survey started in July 2009 and continues today. We posit that developing countries when compared to technologically and economically more mature developed countries are adopting Microblogging services such as Twitter at a significantly greater and relative rate than Social Networking Services such as Facebook.

This assertion is supported using a Z test comparing the proportions of users for each service type in each country type surveyed. If the observed pattern continues it will have important implications to firm's intent on communicating marketing messages using so called Web 2.0 applications and services in these highly sought after new growth markets.

This study is significant because it provides critical information on the preferences of developing nations to two distinct and pervasive categories of online social interaction service. Firms interested in penetrating markets in developing countries must understand their unique cultural biases towards different types of marketing communication channels outside the traditional marketing channels. Properly selected online social interaction services and applications may provide opportunities for marketers to better promote their products and services within these developing countries.


The world has seen an unprecedented rapid rise in the adoption of online social interaction applications and services. In the US alone Facebook usage grew from 42,089,200 in January 2009 to 103,085,520 in January 2010 which means that over 50% of the US population are now registered Facebook users. Moreover although the majority are of younger age demographics the 34-55 age group grew 329% between 2009 and 2010 to almost 3 of 0,000,000 users and 29% of the Facebook users (Corbett, 2009).

Online social interaction applications and services are a subset of the so-called Web 2.0 world. We have been careful to use the term Web 2.0 sparingly because there has been some debate on what constitutes Web 2.0 and whether it is just marketing jargon (Laningham, 2006). …