Social Networks Show Deeper Penetration, More Trust in Emerging Markets

A compilation of studies from eMarketer, PEW, and region-specific groups has examined social network use and trust for regions around the world. Emerging markets approaching more common internet access both used and trusted social networks more.


In the U.S., approximately 60 percent of Internet users also use social networks. However, there are several emerging markets where social networks have an even higher penetration; Indonesia and Russia both have 86 percent penetration according to Pew Research Center’s “Global Digital Communication” study, while an August 2011 study from ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi indicated that Brazil has 93 percent social penetration.

In other words, a higher portion of users in emerging markets are turning toward social; the current set of web users in increasingly digital nations behave like American youth rather than mirroring a broad cut of our web-using population. Some portion of this can be explained by the available technologies, commercial functions, and likely demographics of users during this phase of adoption, but some stats can’t be explained using just those figures.

Perhaps most notably, the demographics have little apparent relevance on the increased level of trust these users display toward information shared on social networks, especially when it’s relevant to products.


In India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Mexico, users are significantly more likely than U.S. users to believe social networks are a good tool for researching and even purchasing products. This may be due to a combination of mistrust of untried technology that isn’t vouched for by peers, but it could also be cultural differences shining through.

What does this mean? As stated in a recent eMarketer article, “Social media marketing is important in the US and other developed markets, but higher levels of trust in emerging markets suggest that social networks can play a bigger role in the purchase cycle there.”

How does data like this influence your social media strategy? Do you think social and e-commerce will become more or less tied together in emerging markets? How about in established territories? Give us your thoughts in the comments, below.

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