Facebook is accelerating its moves in Korea, as shown by the announcement of its willingness to make an investment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
According to industry sources on June 7, Facebook Korea has recently been holding various kinds of events and carrying out projects to provide support for local SMEs. So far, most events have been restricted to major areas in Seoul. Starting with the Facebook's Roadshow for SMEs, the company is planning to tour Daegu, Ulsan, and Busan, and to provide expertise and technical skills for its marketing free of charge.
The social networking giant has a huge interest in local SMEs and venture firms, as witnessed by holding a separate event for SME customers by Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg in 2014 in her visit to Korea.
Facebook's interest in Korean SMEs can be interpreted as an intention to expand its influence in the nation. Most large local companies are already Facebook's customers.
The reason for a lot of large companies, SMEs, and start-ups flocking to the dominant social networking platform lies in the fact that it is the most attractive ad channel for mobile devices. In particular, an increasing number of people in the nation are using Instagram and Facebook Messenger, in addition to Facebook.
According to market research firm Nielsen Korea, the number of average monthly users of Facebook's mobile messenger app was 1.67 million in April 2014, but the figure tripled, reaching 4.55 million during the same period this year. The number for Instagram quadrupled from 950,000 to 3.56 million over the same period.
The industry estimates that the social media giant turned over 100 billion won (US$89.2 million) in the country last year, and is predicted to post more than 200 billion won (US$178 million) from the sale of mobile ads this year.
Facebook is expected to start numerous services in the country based on its huge popularity in the mobile environment, in addition to the mobile ad business. It already added a free call function to Facebook Messenger in May, which is locally available as well. Even though Facebook's mobile money transfer service has yet to be introduced to the nation, its launch is considered to be only a matter of time.