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Facebook, WhatsApp top ranked in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Coming in just after online dating, social networking is the second-fastest growing online activity across the world over the last five years, according to research firm GlobalWebIndex (GWI), citing a 187 per cent rise globally and 242 per cent rise in Asia Pacific.

Facebook, WhatsApp top ranked in Singapore

GlobalWebIndex's Head of Trends, Mr Jason Mander, detailing social and mobile networking insights. Photo: GWI

SINGAPORE — Coming in just after online dating, social networking is the second-fastest growing online activity across the world over the last five years, according to research firm GlobalWebIndex (GWI), citing a 187 per cent rise globally and 242 per cent rise in Asia Pacific.

And over the last two years, mobile networking has also seen a boom, with four in 10 global internet users using mobile messaging applications. This rises to 46 per cent in Asia Pacific.

Here are some social and mobile networking insights, according to GWI’s latest research, which covers 32 countries representing 89 per cent of the global Internet population.

1. Facebook is the dominant social networking site in Singapore and globally

More than nine in 10 Internet users here have a Facebook account, ahead of the global average of near seven in 10. YouTube and Google+ are also among the top three social networking sites in Singapore (69 per cent and 64 per cent respectively) and globally (51 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively).

Yet, have user’s behaviours changed and are more just passively consuming content on their social networks?

GWI’s data showed a steady decline in users who have “messaged a friend in the last month” on Facebook, from 512 million in the first quarter of last year, to 313 million in Q3 this year. In Singapore, about a quarter of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ members said they have “logged in to see what’s happening without posting/commenting on anything myself”.

GWI’s Head of Trends, Mr Jason Mander, attributed this to “certain direct behaviours shift(ing) to other platforms”. For instance, conversations are shifting mobile chat apps.

2. Mobile messaging services continue to grow in popularity

As of the third quarter of this year, four in 10 respondents have made use of mobile messaging. This worked out to 616 million users globally, and is a 6 percentage point increase from the fourth quarter of 2012.. The figure is higher in Asia Pacific, with 46 per cent saying they use mobile messaging.

The main motivations, according to respondents globally: The applications are free, it’s quicker than using social networks or text message, and lots of their friends are using them.

3. Let’s WeChat

Mobile messaging application WeChat has come up tops globally and in Asia Pacific among the chat apps, with healthy growth between last year and this year. This is chiefly because it has “a huge active audience in China”, impacting strongly in the rankings.

In Singapore, specifically though, WeChat trailed at third place — with just 18 per cent of respondents saying they used the app — together with Skype, and ahead of Line and Viber.

Nonetheless, WeChat has seen an impressive near 500 per cent growth in user numbers between 2013 and 2014 in the Republic. Skype, in comparison, saw just 38 per cent growth.

4. But WhatsApp reigns in Singapore for mobile messaging

55 per cent of respondents here said they use WhatsApp, while Facebook Messenger came in second place with 30 per cent of respondents reporting usage.

Globally, however, WhatApp came in third. It is fourth in Asia Pacific. This is because interest in the app in inconsistent, and it has failed to grab users’ attention in markets like China, the United States and Japan, said Mr Mander.

Interestingly, despite being often in the limelight, SnapChat has failed to get much of a foothold here, with just 2.5 per cent of respondents saying they used the service.

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