Twitter is the fastest growing social networking site in the world, according to the latest figures from Emarketer. While Facebook is seeing a slowdown in monthly growth (especially in the USA and western Europe), Twitter continues to rapidly gain active users.
The number of users soared by 42 per cent between the second quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, with more than one in five web users worldwide using the site at least once a month.
But some people might be surprised to see where Twitter is growing fastest. Recent research by Global Web Index shows that Indonesia gained the highest proportion of Twitter users in the first three months of 2013. This is closely followed by Saudi Arabia and Singapore, with the United States and Russia in fourth and fifth place.
One notable absence from the list of the top 15 fastest growing countries is the UK. The London Olympics might have broken records last year for the highest volume of tweets sent per minute. But now it appears that the network is reaching saturation point in the country.
Perhaps it's not surprising that Indonesia tops the list. The world's fourth largest nation, it has seen a dramatic rise in internet use and ecommerce in recent years. Emarketer highlighted the sharp rise in internet connections in a 2012 report, predicting that a third of its massive population would be connected by 2014.
The country also ranks highly in terms of "social engagement". WebIndex found that the population was more likely to create microblogs, add content to social networks, and connect with brands than in any other country apart from China. And Jakarta has already been highlighted as the most active Twitter city in the world.
This thriving social networking scene goes hand in hand with a burgeoning ecommerce market. Research by Veritrans and Daily Social (in a project with Harvard Business School) predicted that the total value of Indonesian ebusiness would soar from $0.9 bn in 2012 to $10 bn by the end of 2015. More luxury brands are targeting the country, using the web and social media to engage its growing middle class.
Similarly, Singapore has firmly embraced social networking. Twitter opened its pan-Asian office in the country last year. The Philipines, Malaysia and Thailand are also seeing significant growth in account numbers.
Saudi Arabia leads the Middle East, with 3 million Twitter users. Although internet penetration rate is still relatively low, more than half of those who do have an internet connection use Twitter. (according to Global Web Index).
Twitter's growth in Russia is a sign that it could be catching up with the two giant home-grown networks, VK and Odnoklassniki. While these two are still wildly popular in the country (and increasingly further afield), Twitter is fast gaining users. They're also spending more time on the site. According to Yandex (owner of the country's most popular search engine) Russian Twitter users are among the world's most active, with more than 60 per cent of users posting once a day.
For marketers, there's no doubt that Twitter is an increasingly useful tool to reach global populations. Many business leaders have named Indonesia as a country to watch in 2013, as well as other fast-growing emerging markets in Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. As more of their populations get connected, social media can be an important way to build a brand's profile and engage users.