Why Facebook matters to Filipinos, and Philippine business

Twenty-one million. That’s how many Filipinos are on Facebook, according to Jim Ayson’s must read piece on The Philippines as a Facebook Nation.

The Philippines ranks (at the time of this writing) fifth in the world, in terms of Facebook population.

Both are huge numbers.

To put it in proper perspective, Facebook’s Filipino population is almost twice that of Metro Manila’s. It can almost be a province of the Republic.

Huge.

Let’s reframe our understanding.

For a lot of people, Facebook is the Internet.” —Jim Ayson

Facebook is the number one place where people from the Philippines go to on the Internet. It is bigger than Yahoo. It is bigger than Google. It is bigger than YouTube. Facebook consumes everything.

Twenty-four percent of Pro Pinoy’s traffic comes from Facebook, for example, and most sites from the Philippines probably registered something similar, if not more. It is invaluable.

In all the talk about the rise of blogging’s influence in the country, and how the Telcos want to squeeze out Filipino’s use of the Internet, it is important to note how little this online world really is.  How little traffic originates from Philippine businesses really is. Just look at the top 100 sites on Alexa for Philippines. How many of those are from local companies, or media entities, and how many are global?  Ok, that sounded a little bit more nationalistic, and insular, which is really not what I meant.  Indulge me for a bit?

How little in the sense that most Filipinos use work places and Internet cafes to browse the Internet, and how much of it is spent on Facebook, and little else simply because they don’t have access to it everywhere in their lives.

One way of looking at that is to see it splashes cold water on how influential bloggers, and Filipino net entrepreneurs really are.   But personally, I prefer looking at it from the perspective of how huge this market is, and how great the potential is, and how much more we can take it.

The rise of Mobile Internet in the country will be a game changer as big as GSM and text messaging was to Filipinos. Already we are seeing more and more people tied to their Blackberries. How much more is this going to grow once a nation explodes on mobile space?

It is cheaper to deploy wireless technologies now, and in an island nation such as the Philippines, it is the only way to go. It is why I do not understand why telecommunication companies are simply considering this as a value added service when in fact they should be directing their attention into investing, on bringing the technology to the general public. Making it so affordable that even the lowly janitor can afford it, and can pay meals with it.

It is time to exchange the SMS market, with a market driven by mobile internet. In a country that values PrePaid, one would argue that turning a mobile phone into a wallet would be big business too. Smart and Globe are already doing this, with their respective offerings but it isn’t quite enough is it?

Of course this is a matter of speculation. As a matter of disclosure: I own no stock in any local telecommunications provider, and I am not privy to their internal numbers.

The Telecommunications providers seem to think that they are protecting shareholder value, and have a free market going. Protecting shareholder value is also about creating new businesses rather than milking old business models that are clearly up. As a consumer, from my perspective, I think telecommunication providers simply lack balls.

I have argued that Facebook is done.  There is something fundamentally flawed with Facebook, and revenue generation. Yes, It made over a billion dollars in new financing, nearly a billion revenue and yes, in SecondMarket, Facebook is valued over US$70 billion dollars. As a business, it looks and feels like the end of Web 2.0, and that the next version of the Web would easily eclipse it.

I see it as a market waiting to grow up.  There is huge potential.

This is why Facebook matters to Filipinos, and Philippine business.

What the Philippine ranking of Facebook; what alexa ranking tells us is not about the quality of Filipino users on the Internet, nor the level of the discourse we engage in.  The average CPC doesn’t tell us how little the market is worth.  They all tell us less about what Filipinos value more, but more about the opportunities that exist right now, not just for media, but also of communication, commerce and how much more we can gain by unleashing the Internet on Filipinos. Do you see it?


Photo credit: Facebook logo is in the public domain.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • I really love to read this post and I am glad to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Thanks and Regards

  • GabbyD

    i dont get it.

    if facebook is DONE, why does it matter?

    from your logic, its whatever that comes AFTER facebook that matters. supposing its revenue generating.

    • Why Facebook matters to Filipinos right now is because 21 million people are on it. And for them, this is the Internet.

      Facebook is done in that social is changing. Facebook is the culmination of Web 2.0. The future of social is not on Facebook. It is through devices such as the Kinect, and the /context/ it creates with say, ESPN.

      Imagine watching a manny pacquiao game, and you say, “TV, display Pacquiao stats.” then out pop up context on his current, past stats, /and/ while you’re watching and doing that, am able to chat with your buddy in the next town or a brother in the next country, about the game, during the game.

      As the Interface changes from a keyboard and mouse to touch and gestures, the way social interactions happen online is going to change in a big way.

    • Oh and you can also checkout @mannyneps’ post. He says there’s going to be a war on Facebook advertising now. He wrote it from the point of view of a digital marketing strategist. “The days of wine and roses

  • mario taporco

    It offers Filipinos, and its neighboring communities to be politically correct. It also gives us an opportunity, to discuss issues with our fellow citizens who resides in our nation. To be open minded, to be involve what matters most, our government officials.

    • And I think there’s a danger in that. There is a danger in seeing Facebook, “as the web.” It isn’t. There is a huge sprawling universe outside its walls. While Facebook makes it easier, discussions and activity should be outside its walls.