The use of social media platforms Instagram and Snapchat has risen sharply in Malaysia as the popularity of highly-visual channels continues to grow, according to Connected Life, the latest study of over 70,000 consumers from global research consultancy Kantar TNS. 

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Developments in mobile technology are a clear driver, with the number of smartphones users across the Asia Pacific region now numbering over a billion – 11 million of them in Malaysia - and increasingly powerful smartphone cameras giving connected users the opportunity to take and share photos instantly.

Across Asia Pacific, connected consumers are expanding their use of social media beyond Facebook and testing newer, more visual channels. Malaysians are the most active on Instagram, as the results show that use has gone from 59% to 73% of connected consumers in the past year. Hong Kong and Singapore are not far behind, with 70% and 63% respectively.

Hong Kong is the most active Snapchat market, with almost half (46%) of internet users on the platform, but Malaysia is catching up quickly, with 37% now using the channel, more than double the number from 2015 (14%).

While young people are the biggest social media users across all platforms, the rise of the ‘Insta-Gran’ is also gaining momentum; almost half (48%) of internet users in Malaysia aged 55 – 65 now use Instagram. However Snapchat remains more the domain of the younger user, with only 19% of users in Malaysia in the 55 – 65 age category.

The rise of these platforms provides brands with new opportunities to target and engage consumers. However, brands need to be mindful of evolving consumer attitudes as they look to take advantage of the diversifying social media landscape. The Connected Life results reveal that 17% of connected consumers in Malaysia ‘actively ignore’ social posts or content from brands. Businesses need to avoid being invasive as a third (30%) already feel ‘constantly followed’ by online advertising.

In addition, the Kantar TNS study found that influencers and celebrities hold the key to connecting with consumers. One in three (36%) online 16 – 24 year olds in Malaysia say they trust what people say online about brands more than ‘official’ sources, such as newspapers, brands’ own websites or TV adverts. Again, younger people are the more influencer-oriented group, trusting bloggers and peers rather than information from brands. The older generation’s ‘influencer network’ is still primarily friends and family. However, considering this group’s adoption of other trends, they may soon begin referring to social media influencers for inspiration and information.

Dan Foxman, Head of Client Service, Malaysia at Kantar TNS, said: “The Connected Life results show that Malaysia continues to be one of the most connected markets globally. This presents huge opportunities for brands here to reach consumers via digital channels. But as our study shows, people are increasingly turning away from overtly branded messages. Social media provides brands with a way of interacting, not broadcasting, in the space that consumers are already spending their time. Given the widespread use of social networks in Malaysia, it’s now more important than ever before for brands to understand how to navigate the nuances of each platform, and develop strategies that engage consumers effectively.”

Zoë Lawrence, APAC Digital Director at Kantar TNS, said: “The rise of Instagram and Snapchat highlight how consumers are eagerly adopting visual ways of expressing themselves, as they embrace the ability to capture and share moments. Importantly, the adoption of these new platforms is incremental – people are using them in addition to Facebook, WhatsApp and other social channels. This provides brands with multiple new channels to engage with consumers in a deeper and more effective way.

“What’s crucial is that brands no longer look at social channels as blank media space for advertising. The results show that consumers are demanding content that is integrated seamlessly into the platform, enhancing rather than interrupting the use of it. To do this successfully, it’s essential to maintain the brand values of the platform being used. Instagram is a place for highly-curated, enhanced images, whereas Snapchat is raw, in-the-moment and humorous. Brands need to approach each platform individually to ensure the content created mixes seamlessly into the user-generated feed and maintains their own integrity.”

About Connected Life

Connected Life is a leading global study of the digital attitudes and behaviours of 70,000 internet users across 57 countries. It uses comprehensive analysis of how connectivity changes people’s behaviour to address the big challenges for marketers. It does so by looking in detail at consumers, connections, content and commerce, providing the strategic guidance needed to keep, engage and influence the people that matter.

The fieldwork was undertaken in all markets between June and September 2016. Instagram and Snapchat usage measured by those who identified as using platform at all (daily, weekly, monthly or less often).

For further information, visit the Connected Life page.

About Kantar TNS

Kantar TNS is one of the world’s largest research agencies with experts in over 80 countries. We provide actionable insights to help companies make impactful decisions and drive growth.

With expertise in innovation, brand and communication, shopper activation and customer relationships we help our clients identify, optimise and activate the moments that matter to drive growth for their business.

We are part of Kantar, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies.

Find out more at Kantar TNS

About Kantar

Kantar is one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies. Working together across the whole spectrum of research and consulting disciplines, its specialist brands, employing 30,000 people, provide inspirational insights and business strategies for clients in 100 countries. Kantar is part of WPP and its services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.


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