Facebook Apps in Taiwan Dominated by Younger Users, with Some Surprises

[Editor’s Note: The following article presents analysis and data excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service tracking Facebook’s traffic growth and demographic landscape in global markets.]

Each month, we’ve been digging up and reporting on the application demographics for international markets, focusing on Facebook’s biggest countries. For the past two months that has meant the United Kingdom and Canada, which are relatively similar to the United States.

Today, though, we’re looking a bit further afield, to Taiwan — a small island nation off China’s coast that nevertheless sends seven million monthly active users to Facebook (and that’s out of a total of 15.1 million Internet users in the country, according to 2008 estimates from the CIA).

Taiwan provides an interesting case study on East Asia’s social networkers. Although its users no doubt like to “stay connected to family and friends,” as Facebook’s motto proclaims, the real motivation for many to join Facebook, and return day after day, is the platform’s popular social games.

Not just “Facebook users,” the Taiwanese are first and foremost social game players; we get the distinct impression that if Facebook weren’t the platform, users would still find a way to connect to their favorite social games elsewhere. Thus, Taiwan gives a more accurate view than most other countries in that region of what the average social game user looks like, and how they engage with social properties on the Web. Due to both that difference and cultural variations, Taiwanese user demographics for games are sometimes quite different from nearly identical games in the West.

We chose three games for our sample: 德州撲克 (Texas Hold’em Poker) by Boyaa, 開心農場 (Happy Farm) by Five Minutes, and 開心 Lounge Bar by Happy Elements. These three play much like their poker-playing, farming and restaurant sim counterparts in the US, like FarmVille, Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker, and Restaurant City.

Unlike the American versions of those games, though, which often bring in many older users, Taiwan’s average age for all three games is impressively close, coming in at around 27:

(A note on methodology: to arrive at the average age, we used the means of each age group we measured.)

Another significant difference from Western app demographics comes up when comparing the gender distribution. While popularity between males and females did vary slightly between each app, they all showed fairly even splits where Taiwanese users were concerned.

It’s often said that the average social game player in the US is female and in her 40s. By contrast, Taiwan’s demographics suggest that Asia’s app users will be much younger, and include members of either sex — useful knowledge for both developers and marketers looking to reach certain groups.

Of course, averages can also be misleading. Our data on age splits for each of the three games, across six age groups shows some stratification in age distribution of Texas Poker players, while other games like Happy Farm, are seeing more even distributed. Complete data for this story is available via Inside Facebook Gold.

In the US and most other Western countries, farming games draw nearly twice as many women as men. Here, men have actually edged women out, 50.2 percent to 49.1 percent. Where women rule is in the more nightlife-themed game Happy Lounge Bar.

Some stereotypes do persist across cultures, though. Take note of the greater number of men playing poker, some 61.7 percent; Zynga’s own Texas HoldEm isn’t much different, at about 67 percent male to female (data for many more apps is available to AppData subscribers).

For companies hoping to work in Asia, it will be important to keep the subtleties of the audience in mind. As demonstrated above, there are significant variations in some user behaviors and relatively little in others; we’ll return to the subject in future posts to further define those differences.

The above analysis presents a sampling of the data that’s available through Inside Facebook Gold, Inside Network’s research and data membership service. Inside Facebook Gold also includes monthly global traffic stats, demographic data for over 15 of Facebook’s top country markets, and data on the site’s top languages worldwide. To learn more or join the membership, please visit Inside Facebook Gold.