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② Social Media Penetration in Malaysia [Research]

29.September.2021

Known for its beaches, diving, rainforest, and mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultural influences, Malaysia is rapidly developing its digital and mobile connectivity. This insight article focuses on the key facts about social media penetration and usage in Malaysia that are essential for brands to understand when trying to market to the audience in Malaysia.

69% of Malaysians use the internet regularly to read news, watch videos, and keep in touch with friends via social media. Malaysia, too, is a mobile-first country, with 88% of Malaysians owning a smartphone. A brand will only succeed with a strong understanding of the market and its audiences’ online consumption behavior.

Social Media User Penetration in Malaysia

  • As of January 2021, 86% of the people in Malaysia use social media. It was a rise of 24% from 2016, when social media users accounted for only 62% of Malaysia’s entire population.
  • YouTube sees the highest number of users with a penetration rate of 94%, followed by Facebook at 89% and Instagram at 75% (Statista, 2021).
  • Similarly, Singapore and Indonesia both see the top 4 platforms to be YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, with YouTube being the most used across the two countries (ID: 94%, SG: 89%)
  • Malaysia is the leading video-consuming country in Southeast Asia, with an average of 7.2 hours a week spent watching online videos.
  • Malaysians spend about an average of 3 hours a day on social media (Statista, 2021).
  • 53% of social media users use social media for work purposes (Statista, 2021).

💡 Takeaway: Malaysians generally spend quite a bit of time on social media daily for various purposes such as work or leisure. Therefore, brands trying to reach the audience in this market must prioritize the top social media channels in their marketing plan, whether for B2C or B2B purposes.

YouTube

According to Cisco, online video accounted for about 79% of internet traffic in 2022 worldwide. YouTube was responsible for more than one-third of mobile internet traffic. In Malaysia, YouTube has the highest penetration compared to other social media platforms. Entertainment-related categories see the most significant number of searches with terms such as ‘Movie’ and ‘Lagu’ (which means ‘song’ in Malay) taking the top two most searched terms on this channel.

Here are some additional key facts about the use of YouTube by the audience in Malaysia:

  • According to Google reports, the potential YouTube ad audience reach in Malaysia is 23.4 million.
  • 80% of YouTube views in Malaysia are outside of the 8-10 pm prime time. YouTube is consumed at a personal time by each user throughout the day.
  • 7 out of 10 YouTube channels watched by Malaysians are local channels with localized content.
  • Music, food, gaming, and beauty categories are seeing the most consistent growth on YouTube in Malaysia.

💡Takeaways: With the high usage of YouTube in Malaysia and with local content deemed as highly important to this audience, a localized content approach should be highly considered and adopted by brands looking to appeal to the Malaysian audience.

Think with Google: Discover here to learn more about what people in Malaysia are watching online!

Facebook

Facebook has undoubtedly become one of the most popular social networking platforms in Malaysia. Malaysia’s number of Facebook users grows yearly based on the continued development of interest in Facebook among social media users (Statista 2021). In 2020, statistics showed that slightly more males than women used Facebook and the largest age group of users is those aged 25 to 34.

These figures were a breath of fresh air for brands and digital marketers as the buyers in this age bracket also comprise parents, homeowners, and customers at the pinnacle of their wealth. They represent the essential target demographic of potential customers for most businesses today.

Here are some additional key facts about the usage of Facebook in Malaysia:

  • Among Facebook users in Malaysia, 84% access the platform via mobile phones only, 0.6% access Facebook on a laptop or desktop computer only, and the rest (16%) access via both phones and computers (Datareportal, Digital 2021 Malaysia).
  • There is an average number of 19 clicks on Facebook ads by Malaysians monthly. Women (24 clicks) seem to click on ads more than men (16 clicks).
  • Facebook ads see a quarter-on-quarter increase of 4% in their reach in Malaysia, which is about 2-4 times higher than in Singapore and Malaysia. (SG: 3%, ID: 0%)
  • In terms of post engagement, status posts have the highest engagement, followed by photo posts and video posts.

💡Takeaways: Facebook is where Malaysians connect with their family and friends and their favorite brands. Ads on social media see the top form of brand discovery in Malaysia, making this ideal audience for most brands very receptive to advertisements on social media. However, keep in mind to take on a mobile-first approach when marketing on Facebook to the users in Malaysia.

Instagram

Malaysians are among the Asia Pacific region’s most active Instagram users. In August 2021, Malaysia had about 15 million Instagram users, accounting for 45% of the country’s total population. Interestingly, while social media users in Malaysia tend to be younger, the advent of the ‘Insta-Gran’ is gaining traction in Malaysia; over half of Malaysian Internet users aged 55-65 now use Instagram.

Here are some additional key facts about Instagram in Malaysia:

  • Instagram has a potential ad audience reach of 14 million in Malaysia (Statista 2021).
  • Malaysians actively use Instagram for brand research and get to know new products through advertisements on Instagram and Influencer collaborations.
  • The majority of Instagram users in Malaysia are female, comprising 57% of the ad audience reach. It is similar to Singapore’s, with 56% of its ad audience on Instagram being female.

Moreover, Malaysians also use Instagram to connect and stay updated with their favorite celebrities and influencers. For instance, Digital Business Lab has worked with some influencers in Malaysia on exciting brand campaigns. Such as one with Jill Stuart Eyewear.

🔎 Discover how we supported the brand to raise brand awareness through localized social media marketing, including Malaysia and other Asian countries!

💡Takeaways: When looking to market to a younger female audience (aged 18-34) in Malaysia, brands should develop an effective Instagram marketing strategy. Having a good mix of localized and engaging content, leveraging influencers, and this audience’s receptiveness to paid media.

TikTok

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media channel that offers a unique take on internet content sharing. Users can use it to make short videos with music, filters, and other effects. The ability for creators to amplify their creative skills on this platform is limitless. Besides, TikTok’s rapid development and appeal among young Malaysians, coupled with the rise of video engagement in Malaysia, make TikTok a platform to highly consider and incorporate as part of their social media strategy, especially for businesses that would like to reach out to the younger audience in Malaysia. Digital Business Lab had previously shared an insightful and detailed article on the available  TikTok Ad formats.

Here are also some key statistics that are good to know about TikTok in Malaysia:

  • As of 2021, TikTok is the top mobile app ranked by the total number of downloads in Malaysia.
  • Among the 4 million TikTok users in Malaysia, the majority are under 30, while 41% are between 16-24.
  • 54% of TikTok Malaysia’s users are female, and 45.8% are male.
  • In 2020, the local trending hashtags being used and viewed are:
    • #RamadanMubarak (1.4B Views)
    • #HeadDanceChallenge (1B Views)
    • #Raya2020 (344.5M Views)
    • #JingJitChallenge (184.7M Views)
    • #KesanaKesini (160.2M Views).

Top interest categories of TikTok users in Malaysia:

💡Takeaways: Although TikTok is not the most popular social media platform as of right now, the app is seeing a lot of traction and interest by Gen Zs and young millennials. Just think of Facebook 8-9 years ago. There are many opportunities for brands to go viral on this platform, leveraging influencers and hashtag challenges!

Social Commerce

Malaysia is one of the world’s top markets for social commerce adoption, given its social media penetration rate of 69%, with a high likelihood of social media users converting into paying customers.

Due to the country’s large population of nearly 32 million people, approximately half of whom are digitally savvy consumers aged 18 to 54, with an internet penetration rate of 83%, about 26 million are active social media users, and the country finds it such a favorable situation. Above all, e-commerce adoption is high, with more than 80% of people shopping online by 2020. (Data Portal 2021).

Besides, unlike many other markets, sales and promotional posts are more effective and welcome by the audience in Malaysia. Malaysians love a good deal throughout the year, especially during festive and holiday seasons, and brands should leverage this fundamental fact. Here are some additional e-commerce facts that are good to know:

  • 92% of Malaysians searched online for a product or service to buy.
  • 83% purchased a product online.
  • Fashion & Beauty and Food & Personal Care categories see the highest growth in online purchases in 2020 from 2019. (44% and 38% respectively)
  • The neighboring countries also saw Food & Personal Care within the top two highest growth in 2020. (ID: 61%, SG: 37%)
  • More than 8 in 10 Malaysians use social media for products and service recommendations and reviews.
  • Around 7 out of 10 people believe that they buy things online after seeing them on social media.

Source: Click Insights 2020

💡Takeaways: In conclusion, with this group of avid online shoppers, an effective social media strategy is essential for brands that want to significantly increase brand credibility and drive conversions in the Malaysian market. Brands should consider incorporating UGC and sales-focused content into their content strategy to pique the interest of the Malaysian consumer.

Explore part 1 of this series:

Explore our other Market Researches in Asia 

🇹🇭 Thailand Social Media Insights:

🇸🇬 Singapore Social Media Insights:

🇻🇳 Vietnam Social Media Insights:

🇮🇩 Indonesia Social Media Insights:

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