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② Social Media Penetration in Malaysia [Research]


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.

75% of Malaysians use the internet regularly to read news and keep up to date with current events and 72% use it to keep in touch with friends via social media. Malaysia, too, is a mobile-first country, with 96.4% of Malaysia’s internet users accessing the internet with 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 2022, 89% of the people in Malaysia use social media. It was a rise of 43% from 2016, when social media users accounted for only 62% of Malaysia’s entire population.
  • We saw an increase of 8% in social media users from 2021 to 2022.
  • WhatsApp sees the highest number of users with a penetration rate of 93.2%, followed by Facebook at 88.7% and Instagram at 79.3% (Kepios, 2022).
  • Similarly, Singapore and Indonesia both see the top 3 platforms to be WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • 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).
  • There is an average of 8.2 social media platforms used per person each month.


💡 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.


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 23.6 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 has undoubtedly become one of the most popular social networking platforms in Malaysia. As of February 2022, there was 24.31 million Facebook users in Malaysia. Statistics also showed that slightly more males than women used Facebook.

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 2022 Malaysia).
  • There is an average number of 21 clicks on Facebook ads by Malaysians monthly. Women (26 clicks) seem to click on ads more than men (17 clicks).
  • The potential audience that Meta reports can be reached with ads of Facebook was 21.70 million as of February 2022. Facebook’s potential advertising reach as a percentage of total population was 65.8%.
  • However, it is important to note that Meta have made changes at the end of 2021 to the way their advertising resources report audience reach data. This means that some figures are not directly comparable to figures published in previous years.
  • 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.


Malaysians are among the Asia Pacific region’s most active Instagram users. In early 2022, Malaysia had 15.55 million Instagram users, accounting for 47.2% 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 15.5 million in Malaysia (Kepios, 2022).
  • 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 56.4% of the ad audience reach. It is similar to Singapore’s, with 54.2% 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 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 2022, TikTok is ranked the 2nd top mobile app by the total number of downloads in Malaysia.
  • Malaysia ranked the 6th highest for Tik Tok’s penetration rate globally.
  • There is a predicted growth 52% of users by 2026.
  • Among the 4 million TikTok users in Malaysia, the majority are under 30, while 41% are between 16-24.
  • 56.8% of TikTok Malaysia’s users are female, and 43.2% 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 89%, 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 75%, 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 66.6% of people having purchased a product in 2022. (Data Portal 2022).

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:

  • 14.43 million people purchased consumer goods via the internet in 2022.
  • 34.7% ordered groceries via an online store.
  • 55.9% of purchased were done via mobile.
  • The top online purchase drivers in 2022 were free delivery, coupons and discounts and customer reviews.
  • Electronics and Fashion were the highest grossing consumer goods categories with $2.73 Billion and $2.54 billion spent respectively in each sector. Personal and household was third.
  • 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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