In the Philippines, it’s Facebook vs. Friendster and Twitter vs. Plurk. Guess who wins?

fezbukConventional wisdom, at least as far as the local Internet is concerned, would have it that the Philippines is something of an oddball oasis where localized tastes have catapulted obscure web players to top status, while global top dogs trail far behind. We inhabit an alternate universe. In DC Comic book terms, we are Earth-23 in the multiverse of realities. Or the bottled city of Kandor in the Fortress of Solitude.

Thus, Friendster and Multiply were considered the top names in social networking, while the Canada-based lorded it over the microblogging category. This was typical for the ASEAN region, particularly in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines – the so-called “SIMP” countries.

In other words, Friendster was widely known to be #1, trumping Facebook. And anecdotally, Plurk was considered more popular than Twitter. This constituted conventional wisdom, and that notion has been challenged by new data.

The latest Alexa rankings for the top websites in the Philippines now show the following results for these specific players:

1. Facebook
3. Friendster
9. Multiply
11. Twitter
39. Plurk

Note that Facebook is not just the #1 social network, it is now listed as the #1 website in the Philippines, period.

Elsewhere on Alexa, you’ll find that Facebook is now ranked #1 for the rest of SIMP – Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Facebook’s dominance in the region is now a fait acompli.

According to the Alexa website, the rankings are “calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews over the past month. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1.”

While Friendster comes in at a respectable #3 position (just after Yahoo), what might be giving it cause to worry is that Facebook’s incredible growth may be siphoning off its traditional base among the mass based CD segment.

Data released by Facebook in September 2009, show the Philippines ranked at #13 in terms of Facebook users, with 4,832,040 registered users. In Asia, we are second only to Indonesia, which registered 8,786,920 users.

But the growth period from January to September 2009 shows Pinoy Facebook population growing at a whopping 1136.76%. That is the second highest rate in the world, second only to Taiwan.

Current estimates of Philippine Facebook registered users put the number at around 5.7 Million.

This still pales in comparison to Friendster’s claims of 40M registered Philippine users. But let’s look at a comparison of Philippine data for September 2009:

Unique visitors (users) – 6.6M
Page views – 4.9B
Total visits – 200M
Avg visits per visitor – 30
Avg time on site – 33:20

Unique visitors (users) – 5.5M
Page views – 3.6B
Total visits – 100M
Avg visits per visitor – 18
Avg time on site – 25:00

In other words, not only does Facebook now have more Philippine monthly unique visitors, Facebookers are more engaged, spending more time online than their Friendsterian counterparts.

The source for all this tantalizing info is the research section of Google Ad Planner, which uses data supplied directly by the web publishers.

In the Philippine Twitter versus Plurk face-off, the tale of the tape reads as follows:

Unique visitors (users) – 1.1M
Page views – 66M
Total visits – 7.9M
Avg visits per visitor – 7.2
Avg time on site – 13:50
Unique visitors (users) – 320K
Page views – 34M
Total visits – 3.9M
Avg visits per visitor – 12
Avg time on site – 23:20

All this and there’s even a possibility that the amount of Twitter traffic may actually be understated, since these figures only account for traffic on the site. Not included are the multitudes using desktop and mobile clients that access Twitter via its API, such as Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Twitterberry, Tweetie, and so forth.

In the final analysis, what this all means for sites like Friendster and Plurk is that they need to notch up their game if they want to regain their leadership positions in this country.

This was especially visible during the recent typhoon crisis in the Philippines, where social networking was documented to have played a major role in disseminating information about relief efforts.

In an informal scan of the local and international media coverage of the typhoon relief efforts, the brand names of Facebook and Twitter were always mentioned. I saw Plurk mentioned just once, in a piece in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. And though Friendster did put up a Friendster Cares special page to centralize their online efforts regarding this crisis, this got hardly a peep in the media.

All this, despite the fact that Facebook and Twitter have no on-ground presence in the Philippines to do their marketing or events (unlike web brands like Friendster, Yahoo, and Multiply).

For Friendster – and maybe for Plurk – perhaps a review of their feature offerings are in order, as well as a user study to explain the shifting of the tides. On second thought, this appears to have already begun.

Related Posts:

Why and How Facebook should come to Southeast Asia

32 thoughts on “In the Philippines, it’s Facebook vs. Friendster and Twitter vs. Plurk. Guess who wins?

    1. I agree that the Typhoon Ondoy/Ketsana/Pepeng/Parma crisis was something of a tipping point for local social media, but actually the stats cited from Alexa and Google Ad Planner were reports for the whole month of Sept 2009. The phenomenon of Facebook and Twitter has been building up for some time… but a lot of people were surprised that it actually hit Friendster like a tsunami when it did.

      1. Facebook can be used for extremely good cause…..if most Pilipinos (as) by illimination of corrupt ‘politicians’ , ‘dokutpoliticans’ ‘nakaw politicians’ madukot-nakaw-police ticians’, never vote for ‘artista-politicians’, ‘sundalo-politicians’, then one day you’ll see the difference between a properous nations and nation no change at all….challence you self to do something valuable of FB.

  1. Wow, we’re now a FB country(as opposed to conventional wisdom as you said). That’s kinda cool. I wonder if the numbers defy the local conventional wisdom in terms of the socio-economic demographic of the people into Facebook, Friendster and other social networks.

  2. Interesting developments. Indeed, one cannot sit on his/her laurels. This is the essence of competition, it makes one to think creatively and at same time, feel the paranoia that causes butterfly in one’s stomach.

  3. This is very informative.

    I guess it’s a behavior of Pinoys to jump into the bandwagon of Web 2.0 and the fast sharing of data online.

    While Friendster and Plurk got the eye of the “masa” or the conventional wisdom, Facebook raised the bar of instant sharing. Twitter on the other hand, was an underdog that gained its popularity because of foreign personalities.

    John Carl likes this.

    1. I would not count Friendster out of the running yet. It’s still the #3 site in the Philippines, which is a very respectable showing. Still it could do better — I’ll see about putting some of my unsolicited suggestions down in a future blog post!

  4. friendster:
    total visits=100m???

    no its not..
    its 7,069,308, 7,117,254, 7,188,153, 7,451,161
    ucan see that total views at hompage of friendster at the botttom..

    1. Hey @miggy, the numbers “7,069,308, 7,117,254, 7,188,153, 7,451,161 & 7,478,078″ at the bottom of Friendster’s home page don’t refer to site visits. Those are the numbers of the US patents that Friendster has on social networking. The patents, if enforced, could allow Friendster to collect royalties from Facebook, MySpace, and practically any other social networking site in existence.

      So far Friendster hasn’t exercised this right yet, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if it did.

  5. I’ve been noticing this very same thing just in my own daily communications.

    It appears to me that Friendster is the preferred haven of teens & preteens, with adults moving over to Facebook. And I’m finding many more-or-less abandoned Multiply sites, not updated for weeks if not months. Many of these seem to be setting up Fan Pages on Facebook as their current preferred alternative.

    A year ago, it seemed to me that few Filipinos were on Twitter, but that too has really changed.

  6. i rarely visit my Friendster account now. Facebook is all I want. Facebook was a lot better and had more to offer than Friendster at the time I began to switch to the former.

  7. My Friendster account has been gathering dust for more than a year now. Through Facebook, I’ve reconnected with friends and classmates I haven’t seen or heard from in 10 to 20 years. On a typical day, my Facebook is up and running during the entire workday, and every once in a while I take a peek on what’s going on with my friends. And I don’t even play its games. Yes, definitely, Facebook is the dominant social network as far as I am concerned, and I am glad this article validates this.

  8. facebook is incidiously addictive. and that despite their new home page and news feed pissing a lot of people off. i guess it’s the “friendships” that one develops through the “conversations” in “real-time”, or its approximate. also the discoveries of long lost acquaintances, office-mates, school chums, etc. Maybe some lost loves too. albeit lost loves hardly resurrect ashes of bridges burned. but facebook could get better. although it eats up a lot of one’s time. i still prefer Yahoo!’s letter writing format because sometimes, if not oftentimes with facebook, one’s privy to a lot of chatter that is irrelevant to one’s “community” of chosen friends. It’s like hearing gossip in the marketplace. but maybe that describes facebook, a marketplace. oh well. there are the x, remove from…, and block to make life saner in the market.

  9. I miss friendster, advice to fs team, reinvent it.. users will be updating their accounts once they switch back to fs.. IT people know it. just innovate.

  10. I created a Friendster account in 2006, but I did not visit it so often because I wasn’t inclined to the hobby.

    I joined Facebook in Dec. 2009 just to try. After one month, I could say in full confidence that I only use Facebook because of the applications such as addictive games, but NOTHING ELSE.

    The games in Facebook such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars were such a smart move by the developers. I believe many of its users visit the site only to play.

    In Facebook, you would even be tempted to add new (unknown) “friends” just to “use” them to gain advantage in games such as leveling up.

    I agree that Facebook has more quality content and settings than Friendster. I, for one, use almost 95% of my daily web-surfing time only playing the addictive games in Facebook. However, it is just quite depressing to see how Friendster is losing many of its users here in the Philippines. Perhaps they should really just keep thinking of more trends to attract back the old users and new users alike.

  11. i prefer facebook, because it’s coll,fast and it’s shorcut in doing anything.. :] but i like friendster in terms of putting music at the media box,graphics,and layouts 😀

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