New figures from market research firm Matrix confirm that the last 12 months have seen explosive growth in Korea for Twitter and Facebook, especially on mobile devices.
In May of this year, according to the Donga story, Facebook received 18.6 million visits in Korea via the “wired internet” (ie, PCs), compared with 2.64 million in the same month last year. The corresponding figures for Twitter were 13.5 million and 3.94 million. This represented growth of 605 percent and 244 percent, respectively.
On mobile, the growth is even more stratospheric. In May of this year, Facebook and Twitter respectively had 24.57 million and 27 million visits via mobile devices, representing respective growth rates of 1,766 percent and 765 percent.
While strangely omitting to mention the soaring popularity of smartphones in Korea, the Donga piece proffers a couple of explanations for the explosion of social media use on mobile devices:
- Smartphones have opened up a whole new raft of uses for social media, including real-time updates of events such as the earthquake in Japan.
- In contrast with how PCs are used, Koreans apparently yearn for the more “closed space” that mobiles can provide when using social media. Says Won Yong-jin, a communications professor at Sogang University:
Even married couples, using smartphones, which they don’t tend to share, can create what they perceive as “my own private network.”Using social media through mobile devices fulfills the wish of modern people to maintain their own personal space.
Indeed, despite the rapid growth of Twitter and Facebook in Korea, the Donga piece (without, sadly, citing any statistics) also said that according to the survey, this yearning for a degree of privacy is pushing some people away from the more open platforms and into the welcoming arms of Kakao Talk and even Cyworld.
On his decision to close his Twitter account, Wang Tae-yong, a 27-year-old company man, said:
I find it a burden that stuff from Twitter can show up, unfiltered, on portal searches. I post pictures to Cyworld, where they only ever remain visible to my immediate, first tier of friends.