Twitter has formally opened an office in Indonesia to expand its user base and better engage businesses in the region, offering new opportunities for advertisers.
Indonesia has long been one of Twitter’s biggest markets and the new office will focus on building media and content partnerships, business development, user growth, sales and marketing, and the eventual incorporation of location-specific and localized technologies for the platform.
“Our presence [in Indonesia] will allow us to engage deeper and closer with the brands here,” says Rick Mulia, the new country business head for Indonesia, Twitter Asia Pacific. “You will see more insights and activity from us from a brand and client perspective and in terms of research and insights. Our presence here means we will be able to react and coordinate with them better.”
The move has been welcomed by the industry.
“With Twitter on the ground, there is more opportunity to understand customer needs in Indonesia and be able to support it,” says Sri Safitri, chief marketing officer of Telkom Telstra.
“It gives them a better chance than other over-the-top (OTT) players to understand the ecosystem and how they can form, and be part of, the ecosystem,” she says.
Twitter’s first focus will be to “listen and engage” with existing business partners, clients, and users, as well as other key stakeholders such as media and celebrities who use the platform on a day-to-day basis, says Mulia. “We want to understand how we can make Twitter the first communication platform in Indonesia.”
Indonesia presents a unique social commerce scene; merchandise is often displayed on Instagram, promoted on Twitter, and payment arrangements made through WhatsApp, Path, or Line. Top tweeted topics in 2014 were around food, travel, and politics.
For the millions of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) in Indonesia, Twitter will provide a range of advertising solutions, including, eventually, the ability to tap a single button to promote a tweet to targeted audiences by location or characteristics.
The platform will also look at localization opportunities around the large number of Indonesians still using feature phones or low-quality smartphones which are ill-equipped to carry numerous applications.
Twitter’s recent acquisition of ZipDial in India is likely to play a part in targeting these groups, as well as local telco partnerships in Indonesia to look at pre-installed and zero rate plans. “We are definitely looking at those opportunities where we can really localize the product and the features especially on the ad side,” says Mulia.
The combination of Indonesia’s population of more than 250 million people and its “digital sophistication,” coupled with the speed with which bandwidth and device improvements have been made, and dropping price points on devices, “all points to an obvious desire to invest heavily in this market,” says Dick Costolo, chief executive (CEO) of Twitter.
“The potential here is massive,” says Costolo. “You can never build your business based on where the businesses are today – you have to build it on the back of where business seems like it is about to explode, and we want to be there ahead of the way. I absolutely believe [Indonesia] is, and will continue to be, one of those markets.”
Mulia will lead the new two-person office, alongside a marketing lead.
Facebook, which boasts 65 million monthly active users (MAUs) in Indonesia, opened an office in Jakarta in March 2014. It, too, is hoping to capitalize on Indonesia’s mobile-savvy population, with a feature phone offering that sees the platform pre-installed for a text-like version.
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