Malaysians have most Facebook friends

Developing countries are the most enthusiastic users of social networking, according to a new survey of over 50,000 people worldwide.

Market research firm TNS found that countries such as Egypt and China  have much higher levels of digital engagement – over 50 percent – than mature markets such as Japan (20 percent), Denmark (25 percent) or Finland (26 percent) – despite the fact that the latter have a more advanced internet infrastructure.

The heaviest users of social networking are in Malaysia, where they rack up nine hours per week, Russia, with 8.1 hours per week and Turkey with 7.7 hours per week.

And Malaysians have most social network friends, averaging 233, closely followed by Brazilians with 231. The least social are the Japanese with just 29 friends and Tanzanians with 38. Surprisingly, Chinese consumers only have an average of 68 friends in their networks despite being heavy users of social networking sites.

Blogging is also more popular in rapid-growth markets. Four out of five online users in China and over half of those in Brazil have written their own blog or forum entry, compared to only 32 percent in the US.

“We’ve seen that in mature markets where people have been online for years and where access is ubiquitous, the internet has already become a commoditised item that consumers take for granted,” says TNS chief development officer Matthew Froggatt.

“However, in rapid growth markets that have seen recent, sustained investment in infrastructure, users are embracing these new channels in much more active ways. The digital world is transforming how they live, develop and interact, and online consumers in these markets are leaving those in the developed world behind in terms of being active online and engaging in new forms of communications.”

Data from the study is available here.