Going viral in Indonesia means looking beyond just Facebook and Twitter

The co-founder of Indonesia’s answer to Buzzfeed has warned brands against relying solely on “the obvious” Western social media platforms when attempting to go viral in the country.

Joe Wadakethalakal, the CEO of, told an audience that Indonesian internet users still remained “very loyal” to social networks such as Path and BlackBerry Messenger, despite these falling out of favour across the rest of the world.

Speaking at Mumbrella360 Asia last year, Wadakethalakal said Japanese messaging app LINE was “the number one source of traffic” of Brilio’s traffic, while the Alibaba-owned UC News was the third biggest aggregator after Facebook.

“Indonesians are very loyal to social platforms. You can’t just focus on the obvious players like Facebook and Twitter,” he said.

“BBM and Path are still big. Facebook is popular, but it does not dominate. LINE is the number one source of traffic for us. LINE doesn’t do a great job of doing PR around this. Then there is a third player, UC News, which is an Alibaba player. I believe it’s the most popular browsers on Android and comes pre-installed on Android phones in Indonesia. Twitter is a very small source of traffic.”

“The Western players are algo-driven, so you want to create something that has mass-market appeal. The more likely it is to pop up on other people’s newsfeeds.

“When you look at LINE and UC News, yes they have algorithms, but they also have editorial teams. Ninety per cent of our traffic from LINE comes from the news feeds that have been curated by their editors. If you are picked by the LINE editors, you score a home run. You have to think who are the humans behind these screens.”

Although Wadakethalakal said there was “no guaranteed recipe” for going viral, he said brands that focused on mobile and Millennials would stand a better chance.

‘Virality is a hack.’

He said: “Focus on mobile in Indonesia at least and realise that the digital audience is composed of Millenials. I’m shocked by the number of times clients we work with prioritise the desktop. Yet today 95 per cent off our traffic is coming from mobile. Desktop has declined by close to 40 per cent.”

“There will never be a time in history when you have a [Millenial] demographic this large because birth rates are declining. This is a massive generation and will be the most important in Indonesia. Of the 100 million people online in Indonesia, 50 per cent are Millennials.”

He added: “Virality is a hack. As marketers, we care about the quality of the content we produce and having that reach as many people as possible for the cheapest price. Virality cuts down that price and that’s why it matters.”


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