Facebook’s Second-Tier Country Markets Show Promise for Developers and Marketers

Editor’s note: The following analysis is based on data from Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service covering Facebook’s platform and advertising ecosystem.

Facebook’s top 10 country markets with the most monthly active users get a lot of attention — countries like the US, UK, Turkey and France that have have some attention-grabbing combination of large user numbers, high incomes or huge growth potential (as in the case of #10, India).

Today we’re taking a quick look at the second tier of countries on Facebook, numbers 11-20 on the rankings. Although a bit smaller on Facebook, most of these countries are growing faster than the top 10, and deserve more notice.

Here’s a table showing where all 10 stand, along with their growth over the past year:

The Spanish-Speaking Bloc

We’ve often noted that Spanish is the second-largest language on Facebook following English, with over 70 million monthly active users. But only one Spanish-language market, Mexico, is within the top 10, at number eight. It’s here, in the second tier of countries, that we find five big Spanish-language markets: Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Chile and Venezuala.

These five averaged over 50 percent growth during the last 12 months, and with the exception of Spain and Chile, are keeping up the pace going forward.

The question for developers and marketers is what to do with these users, who for the most part share recognizably common dialects and cultures. Developers like Playdom-backed MetroGames, which emerged from Argentina (although it now lists its headquarters in California), are capturing millions of users in markets outside the US and Facebook’s other English-speaking strongholds.

Brazil is the odd country out in this mostly South American mix because its users access the site in Brazilian Portuguese, not Spanish. Note, however, that Brazil is also the fastest-growing country shown — and, in fact, within the entire top 20. Although it’s in a somewhat solitary language group, Brazil will likely attract much more attention as it approaches 10 million users, which will likely occur early next year.

Asian Standouts

Malaysia and Taiwan also appear on the list. Each of these countries is fairly unique.

Malaysia is a member of the Southeast Pacific Rim trio, which includes the Philippines and Indonesia. The latter country is now Facebook’s third-largest, with almost 27 million users. As a neighbor to Indonesia, and home to MOL — the Malaysian firm that bought Friendster in 2009, and is a Facebook Credits partner — Malaysia will be a country to watch for social network growth.

Taiwan is growing less quickly than Malaysia, but it’s already an extremely important country to app makers like Boyaa and Happy Elements. These developers find Facebook’s Chinese-language market far easier to tackle than China’s own social networks, and find less competition from Western companies, with the exception of efforts like Zynga’s translation of Texas Hold’em Poker.

European Growth

Following Brazil and Malaysia, Germany’s 12-month growth is the fastest on the list. In combination with its penetration — a lowly 13.5 percent — Germany is beginning to look like it could become Facebook’s largest continental European market, surpassing France sometime next year.

Past assessments held that Facebook could not establish a strong presence in Germany, because native social networks like StudiVZ established themselves first. The long view of Germany’s growth suggests otherwise.

We don’t expect second-tier rankings to remain stable — up-and-coming countries like Thailand and Egypt may soon replace countries that aren’t growing as quickly, like Chile. But by and large all of these countries are growing, and all offer access to millions of well-connected individuals through a single portal — Facebook. In the meantime, while localization remains costly and second-tier country markets are still counted as emerging rather than established, outreach will likely stay limited to developers on the platform and a handful of large brands.

Full growth data on the country markets mentioned in this article, and over 160 countries total, is available through the Facebook Global Monitor. The October 2010 edition of the Global Monitor was released this week at Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service tracking opportunities in the Facebook ecosystem. To learn more, or join the membership, please visit Inside Facebook Gold.