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The Rise of Social Media in Indonesia

According to research by Hootsuite, almost half of Indonesians in 2019 did not have Internet access. Yet GlobalWebIndex found that e-commerce rates in Indonesia are among the highest in the world, with three-fourths of Indonesian Internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 buying online at least once per month.

With online brand visibility and increasing Internet penetration, more customers will undoubtedly gain access to e-commerce opportunities. And social media plays a definitive role in this process. Savvy Indonesian businesses already realize this and increasingly look at how to grow their online presence to engage with audiences, thus building their customer base and revenue.

Social Platforms to Watch

According to GlobalWebIndex’s 2019 Trend Report, Indonesians spend on average just over three hours and twenty minutes per day just on social media. With the majority of their online time spent on social platforms, it makes sense for digital marketers to utilize these platforms to sell. Here’s a look at the major social media platforms used throughout the archipelago.


It’s no surprise Facebook is number one in Indonesia. Besides being the biggest social media platform globally, it also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, not to mention its own direct messaging app, Messenger. An October 2019 Facebook summit in Jakarta – the first ever in the country – looked at how local industries, government, and Indonesian society interacted with Facebook’s platforms.

At the conference, the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance and PricewaterhouseCoopers Indonesia Advisory unveiled a study involving individuals, businesses, communities, organizations, and even government officials. It found 92 percent of businesses agreed that Facebook’s apps improve customer engagement, and that 98 percent of Indonesians use at least one of their apps regularly.

Many Indonesian businesses already use Facebook to promote themselves, and it doesn’t require much time or expense to do so. Some of its most effective features include the ability to:

  • Create dedicated Facebook fan pages
  • Post frequent updates promoting your brand
  • Target audiences with hashtags to increase organic reach
  • Use paid Facebook advertising to display your products and services directly
  • A/B test your ads for effectiveness

Facebook’s main platform also serves as a social marketplace and launchpad for buyers, many of whom use Facebook for product recommendations, with Indonesian Facebook users making buying decisions based on online recommendations. E-commerce brand in indoneisa often use Facebook to promote new products, and Facebook’s findings show 56 percent of the country’s shoppers for beauty products look at reviews, many making their purchases via mobile devices.


Instagram’s worldwide demographics skews towards younger adults, and in Indonesia that’s also true. With nearly 66 million Indonesian users in April 2020, 45 million were between the ages of 18 and 34, with 24 million between the ages of 18 and 24. Indonesia is fourth in Instagram users internationally overall, so it’s definitely a platform to which those marketing to Indonesians should pay attention, particularly if their products and services appeal to those under 35.

Being so popular, if you’re doing business online in Indonesia, it’s imperative to have an Instagram presence. In fact, many e-commerce stores use Instagram as their only online platform. Small Indonesian businesses upload photos and videos to Instagram stories and posts, selling them via direct messaging apps or linking to either of Indonesia’s largest e-commerce platforms, Tokopedia or Shopee. Influencer marketing also seems to be gaining traction, though to a lesser extent due to its larger expense.

Even government organizations in Indonesia are taking heed of Instagram’s strengths. The West Java Tourism and Culture Offices use an Instagram account to share captions, images, and stories that concern West Java tourism. Even international organizations like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia utilizes Instagram to share visual content from its work, promoting gender equality and women’s issues throughout the country.


It’s estimated the number of Indonesian smartphone users will reach 82 million by 2020, which makes it the fourth biggest smartphone market after the United States, India, and China. Already 40 percent use Messenger, Facebook’s original direct messaging tool, but WhatsApp users access it more often than Facebook, with 70 percent daily access, eight percentage points higher than Facebook users.

The real reason to watch WhatsApp is its open rate for messages. People open e-mails on average only 14.5 percent of the time, while for WhatsApp it’s a mind-blowing 98 percent.

Unlike with Messenger, Facebook doesn’t intend to use advertising, as they do with Instagram, but rather create a direct link to businesses, making any communication between them and consumers more intimate. Another feature involves sending newsletters via WhatsApp rather than via e-mail, where they’re more likely to get lost amid all the other advertising in people’s other advertising e-mails.


Not many people outside Asia use this messaging application. Yet it has 80 million users in Japan, and was one of the most-used messaging apps in Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan in 2019, with over 194 Million people worldwide using it. Though it’s known for its cute and cuddly stickers, it offers much more; It also widely used by teenagers.

In a nutshell it allows:

  • users to easily add friends.
  • Free voice and video call services – including groups – between LINE users.
  • The ability to play free games via video calls.
  • Easy access to popular and current news.

The messaging app’s growing popularity and engagement rates mean local businesses shouldn’t ignore it when looking into ways to retain customers, generate leads, and manage customer relations.

Google Maps

Google Maps has a stellar reputation, providing businesses with physical addresses traffic by drawing in nearby consumers who are ready to buy. It shows those searching online businesses who offer the specific products or services for which they are looking nearest to their physical locale.

The nature of local search engine optimization (SEO) means that someone in Bali will receive different search results than someone in Bandung or Jakarta. When someone in Jakarta searches for “pressed chicken” they’re likely looking to find a restaurant in their area, rather than one in Bali or, even less likely, in London. Local searches are more meaningful and bring far more traffic for a business.

YouTube, Television, and Other Media

Jakpat – a market research firm – found in a 2017 survey that 54 percent of Indonesians watch tutorials on YouTube. Google’s own research in the region confirms this. Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand use YouTube as a way to share their interests, such as watching tutorials about how to apply makeup.

Tokopedia – an Indonesian platform that helps smaller local brands reach larger markets – uses its YouTube channel to promote online classes, while also featuring stories of e-commerce sellers. These YouTube enthusiasts are the same people buying products online.

Yet according to GlobalWebIndex, traditional media still attracts many viewers, with Indonesians watching just over two hours of television daily. Indonesians also spend just under an hour watching streaming television, even with the country’s poor Internet speed. It’s likely that, until the country’s infrastructure improves, television will continue to be an important source for advertisers. While digital marketing grows, for the foreseeable future traditional media – television news and music stations like Indosiar, RCTI, and Trans TV – will continue to account for over half of advertising

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D. A. Rupprecht

D. A. Rupprecht

A science fiction aficionado, D. A. Rupprecht is an internationally-based freelance writer who writes about how technology affects the world in which we live. He occasionally writes books as well.

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