Preference for social networks varies across regions and countries. In the Asia Pacific region, it's a mixed bag, with some countries preferring local networks, but some going with the worldwide trends. In Australia, a recent study indicates that folks down under prefer using Facebook to other social networks, and businesses are recognizing this as a signal to increase their presence and level of engagement.

Facebook Most Popular, But Twitter Gets More Loyalty

A recently concluded study for Sensis and the Australian Interactive Media Association indicates that a majority of Australians use social networking sites, at 62%. Of this figure, an overwhelming majority uses Facebook, at 97%. Other social networks lag behind, with LinkedIn at 9%, Twitter at 8%, MySpace at 4% and other networks at 3%. Note that these percentages include overlapping figures, with some users using more than just one service.

That's not the entire picture, however. While Facebook gets the most users and most eyeballs, Australian social network users are more loyal to Twitter than any other network, using the service more than they use Facebook. On average, Twitter users access the site 23 times a week, while Facebook only gets 16.2 visits per week on average.

An Opportunity for Businesses

Even with the rising uptake of social networking, this does not necessarily mean businesses are able to reach out to consumers adequately. There's seemingly a vacuum that needs to be filled, as only a small percentage of Twitter users follow brands or businesses. 64% say they do not follow any particular brand on social networks.

Given this perceived need, Australian businesses are ramping up their efforts (and expenditure) on social media. The business portion of the study found out that big companies spend A$ 80,000 per year on social media marketing. Small enterprises spend A$ 6,500 a year on average, while a small business usually spends A$ 2,000 per year. This is considered a small proportion to companies' total marketing expenditure, although medium and large businesses indicate they are going to increase social media marketing expenditure in the next 12 months.

Is It a Surprise Facebook Tops the Aussie Social Networking Scene?

While Facebook is a runaway success in the international social networking scene, it's not the same picture across the APAC region. In places like Japan and China, social network users prefer local networks, for varied reasons. For instance, Facebook's policy of using real names doesn't sit well with Japanese users.

Still, social media is predicted to be big in the region starting this year, with more and more Asia-Pacific businesses adopting means to take advantage of the marketing potentials and interactivity with their clients. Australian businesses are optimistic about their social media uptake, with at least 97% of the surveyed businesses expecting an increase in sales because of social media exposure.