Taiwanese attachment to social media interests Facebook, Twitter

Nation's dynamic free society and apparent addiction to all things social offer a high potential growth market for social media companies including Facebook and Twitter.
Written by Chiu Yu-Tzu, Contributor

With a population of 23 million and growing use of social media tools, Taiwan has garned the interest of online social media companies.

Facebook and Twitter have unveiled plans to tap the growth market in Taiwan.

Facebook recently announced that Taiwanese were now the biggest users of Facebook in Asia, while Twitter said it was looking for people to help boost its presence in Taiwan and Hong Kong

Citing Facebook statistics, Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency last week said the number of active Facebook users in the country has reached 14 million per month, or about a 60 percent penetration rate. Among these 14 million Taiwanese, more than 10 million conduct their social activities through their Facebook pages every day.

This "addiction" continues on their smartphones. The number of Facebook active users accessing their pages through their mobile devices has reached 10 million per month, of whom 7.1 million are daily active users.  

In Taiwan, social activities carried out via Facebook vary from browsing photos of friends to promoting their business. More and more Taiwanese people go to Facebook to check updates, read news, rescue stray animals, disseminate religious teachings, organize street demonstrations, teach music instruments, sell fruits grown in remote mountains, make confessions, share profound thoughts, or simply to exchange daily life experience. 

Perhaps sensing the momentum, Facebook says it hopes to better tap the potential of the Taiwanese market. During a video conference held last week, COO Sheryl Sandberg encouraged Taiwanese female students to "lean in" and pursue their ambitions, making reference to her book titled Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. 

Taiwan's free society, which is influenced by commercialism, also interests other online social media. Twitter, for one, is looking for a head of media partnerships to boost the company's presence in Taiwan and Hong Kong, according to a recent report by the Financial Times. It has been preparing for its initial public offering with an ambition to broaden its share in global markets, including Asia. It said the ideal candidate should be able to ensure "actors, athletes and other high-profile users are embracing tweeting best practices" as well as "work with TV stations and other media outlets to highlight and incorporate user accounts and hashtags into programming". 

The job position will also be responsible for promoting Twitter in Greater China. However, analysts said it might encounter some difficulties in China, where some foreign social media services remain blocked by the country's firewall, according to the FT report. 

There are indications, though, that this may be changing after reports emerged earlier this week that the Chinese government was planning to lift the ban on foreign services such as Facebook and Twitter within its Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. 

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