Welcome to the Pacific social network

Since the end of November last year I’ve been following some facebook numbers around the region. It wasn’t a very sophisticated approach but I found that when you are creating a facebook advert it gives you an estimated reach for the country you set for your target. So this is what I found:

29th November, 2010

  • PNG – 21,220
  • Fiji – 83,040
  • Tonga – 4,940
  • Vanuatu – 4,940
  • New Caledonia – 54,220
  • Australia – 8,429,500
  • New Zealand – 1,545,240

12th January, 2011

  • PNG – 21,260
  • Fiji – 91,420
  • Tonga – 4,600
  • Vanuatu – 4,120
  • New Caledonia – 50,960
  • Australia – 7,958,040
  • New Zealand – 1,476,500

1st March, 2011

  • PNG – 28,140
  • Fiji – 105,560
  • Tonga – 6,020
  • Vanuatu – 4,700
  • New Caledonia – 56,320
  • Australia – 8,432,680
  • New Zealand – 1,570,100

It seems abit funny looking at the numbers in that they seemed to have dropped in January after the Christmas period and then picked up again coming into March. Maybe facebook looks at active users or maybe more people close accounts in Christmas or maybe the Social Network movie has been a great advert itself for getting people on facebook.

Matt Morris from Virtual Economics has thankfully shown an easier way to gauge facebook statistics in the region and although his numbers differ to some degree the general trend seems to be up. This is what he had to say.


By Matt Morris

‘Facebook helps you connect and share with people in your life’–a understated mission for a global phenomenon, and what does it mean for the developing world?

If you haven’t seen ‘The Social Network’ already, I  highly recommend it. The directing is inspired, with the story told through flashbacks from two deposition hearings.

The characters are compelling–Mark Zuckerberg and Edaurdo Severin create Facebook in the Fall of 2003; Sean Parker, the creator of Napster, brings Facebook to the venture capitalists of Silicon valley. Facebook never looks back.

The script is razor sharp and Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay is well deserved. There are killer lines in the movie:

Sean Parker: Drop the “The”. Just “Facebook”. It’s cleaner.

And this one:

Marilyn Delpy: What are you doing?

Mark Zuckerberg: Checking to see how it’s going in Bosnia.

Marilyn Delpy: Bosnia, They don’t have roads, but they have Facebook.

(Mark says nothing)

It got me thinking, how many people in developing countries are on Facebook. As I write this, I’ve just got back from Fiji, so how many people in the South Pacific are wired into Facebook? A few google searches later and here are the results–the best site seems to be socialbakers.com

There are almost 400,000 Facebook users in the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand. And the numbers are growing fast–a staggering 50% on average in the last three months!!!

It’s not just how many Facebook users there are in the region and it’s how fast it is growing, it’s who the new members are. And what are they doing with it?

Facebook users are young and a good balance of men and women. You can also check out the stats for each country. For example, the number of Facebook members in PNG has almost tripled in the last six months and account for a quarter of the online population in PNG.

The demographics are also interesting: two thirds of users in PNG are aged 18-34; 59% of the total are male and 41% are female. (While I haven’t checked the stats for all the Pacific countries, the demographics in Sols and Fiji look similar–young adults, and lots of men and women.)

This is part of a broader trend of explosive growth in developing countries. Here, for example, are the Facebook statistics by continent–check out the 27% growth in Africa in just the last three months!

In the ‘The Social Network’, Sean Parker says ‘We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!’

Is this the future for the developing world?

Probably not, but a growing number of young people in one of the World’s remotest regions are connecting up. This was unimaginable just a generation ago and is exciting.

What will the next generation make of this opportunity and where do you think it will take us?

Update: Just after posting this blog, I logged into Facebook and got a suspicious account access message from my trip to Fiji. I guess Facebook is still catching up with it’s new users.