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Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Social Media Statistics for Malaysia [Updated 2023]


Sue Howe

Apr 27, 2023

Note: This blog is based on the Digital 2023 Global Overview Report – produced in partnership with Meltwater and We Are Social. See Simon Kemp's article about The Changing World of Digital in 2023. Download the Global Digital Report 2024 and the Global Digital Report 2023 for free.

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In today's digital age, social media platforms have become essential to people's lives, allowing them to stay in constant contact with their networks and the world. The use of social media has increased dramatically in recent years, with Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok being Malaysia's most popular social media platforms. 

More than ever, Malaysians turn to social media for everything, from checking out the newest fashion to reading the news. Social media statistics in Malaysia show how, just like we've seen in countries such as the Philippines and Australia, citizens have slowly taken their lives into digital spaces and are online from the moment they wake up. 

The social media environment in Malaysia is dynamic and diversified, and this article will dig into the newest data for the country and investigate the key trends influencing it. Learn about the insights and trends driving Malaysia's social media landscape, such as how businesses discussing ESG and sustainability benefit from generating as much as 30% of positive media sentiment. Whether you're a marketer wanting to engage audiences or simply interested in how citizens use social media, being aware of these Malaysia social media statistics will be key in optimal advertising and promotion of your brand digitally. 

Table of Contents

Population essentials in Malaysia

Population essentials based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Malaysians are now making their urban centres exciting places to live in the modern day. With a total population of 34.13 million, it's impressive to see that 96.8% of them are connected online on the internet. 26.8 million Malaysians are active social media users, connecting with friends and family, sharing their latest adventures, and discussing local cuisine on their favourite platforms. 

Malaysians use social media to foster a feeling of community and belonging in their own distinctive ways, whether by sharing images of their everyday lives in the city of Kuala Lumpur or discussing business strategies in Kota Kinabalu, or participating in online groups in George Town. Malaysia is a fascinating and vibrant place to live for anybody who enjoys being constantly connected to others worldwide because of the country's vast and active social media base.

Daily time spent with media based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

The data on how much time people spend on social media in Malaysia is always changing. Still, as of 2023, people seem to spend less time online, even when social media is evolving. The average Malaysian user aged 16 to 64  spends 8 hours and 6 minutes online each month, down 11% from a year ago.  

Although this is a decline from previous years, Malaysians still spend almost 2 hours and 47 minutes daily on social media, placing them 16 minutes above the world average. It's also worth mentioning that users have reduced their time spent on social media by 15 minutes, or 8.2%, during the last year. These tendencies point to a growing awareness and intentionality among Malaysians towards their time spent online.

Internet usage statistics in Malaysia

Overview of internet use based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

With just over 33 million people using the internet, Malaysians are some of the world's most tech-savvy and digitally connected people. An additional 1.1% more Malaysians now spend at least some of their time online than the previous year, whether shopping or watching videos.

The internet has become an integral part of everyday life in Malaysia, used for everything from keeping in touch with loved ones to simply spending time watching their favourite content creators. Several Malaysian companies have succeeded in engaging audiences with mindful digital advertisements and collaborating on creative projects due to increased technological technology and platforms.

Main reasons for using the internet based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

What are Malaysians using the internet for? The top three reasons are finding information (76.2%), keeping up-to-date with news and events (65.8%), and staying in touch with friends and family (64.2%). Undoubtedly, the internet has greatly aided education, research, and communication.

The internet has become vital for establishing and maintaining relationships with others. Overall, these numbers show the many ways Malaysians use the internet to better themselves and maintain relationships with their loved ones and the globe at large, reflecting the importance of staying informed and connected in a fast-paced and constantly changing digital landscape.

Social media usage statistics in Malaysia

Overview of social media use based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

With approximately 26.8 million users, or 78.5% of the population, Malaysians use social media to communicate, connect with others, and participate in and shape their global community. Gen Z and Millennials, as we will see when we sort out Malaysia's social media users by age, are almost entirely connected, with 99.8% of users above 18 on socials.

Time spent on social media by Malaysians is just under 3 hours per day; even if it doesn't seem like much, that's more than 20 hours of total use in a week! The variety of ways Malaysians use social media to remain in touch and informed is further shown by the fact that they access an average of 7.7 platforms each month.

Demographic profile of Meta's ad audience based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

When separating the social media users by age in Malaysia, those born through the internet boom, aged 25-34, are the most active. Taking 31.5% of the entire population of Malaysia puts that demographic at roughly 8.4 million users. Social media usage among youth in Malaysia takes up almost a fourth of the whole population of Malaysia, with 28.6% of users aged below 25 years old. This makes parental control of streaming sites such as YouTube and Netflix as crucial as ever, especially for minors, especially when anyone can access content online.  Overall, Malaysian youth has adapted the internet into everyday life without batting an eye, using it for everything from education to recreation and socialisation.

It is important to consider age demographics when gauging the performance of your social media content, as different age ranges are engaged by different kinds of content. This data is useful for organisations and marketers since it allows them to better tailor their social media campaigns to their intended demographic. Creating accurate reports regarding studies such as these is vital for businesses to analyse the performance of social media posts to garner quantitative insights. 

Main reasons for using social media based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Social media has permeated Malaysian society, shaping how people connect, communicate, and access information. As urbanisation and migration widen physical distances between loved ones, Malaysians turn to social media to bridge the gap and maintain close relationships, with 54.6% using it for this purpose. In a fast-paced world where free time is scarce, social media provides a convenient outlet for entertainment and relaxation for 52.7% of Malaysians. Meanwhile, as traditional media loses ground, Malaysians rely on social media for daily news about local and global events to stay informed, as 42.6% are on social media to read the latest news stories. In 2023, social media will be essential to Malaysian culture by facilitating connections and delivering information.

Web traffic referral from social media based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

The digital marketing landscape is evolving rapidly, with social media advertising gaining greater prominence. Web traffic from Twitter and Instagram has significantly increased as users become more accustomed to these platforms and engage with relevant sponsored content. Their traffic from third-party sites has increased by 234.3% and 72.9%, respectively; in the coming year, more businesses in Malaysia will continue to recognise the potential of social media to reach key demographics and are investing more in targeted ads. Meanwhile, platform algorithms are continually refined to deliver personalised content tailored to users' interests. These combined forces lead to steady growth in web traffic from social media giants, signalling their rising importance in digital marketing.

Top Social Media Platforms in Malaysia

Most used social media platforms based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

In 2023, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram are Malaysia's most-used social media platforms. At 89.3%, WhatsApp is the country's most used social media platform, as its convenience and familiarity appeal to users of all ages. At the same time, Facebook's (84.8%) and Instagram's (74.3%) breadth of features attracts diverse audiences and keeps those using it connected to everything around them. Although TikTok's popularity is rising among youths seeking entertainment, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram's wide reach and integration into daily life cement their dominance in Malaysia's social media landscape. 

WhatsApp's popularity can be attributed to its simplicity, which makes communication between friends, family, and coworkers possible, as well as its user-friendly interface and end-to-end encryption. On the other hand, Facebook has maintained its position as Malaysians' preferred platform by developing from a basic social network to a flexible hub for news, entertainment, and even e-commerce. Last but not least, Instagram is the platform of choice for those looking for a more curated and aesthetically pleasing experience thanks to its visually appealing design and emphasis on images and brief videos. Together, these three social media platforms have carved out a sizeable chunk of the Malaysian social media market, demonstrating their flexibility and capacity to meet the various demands of users.

Tip: Check out the top 20 Instagram influencers in Malaysia.

Mobile usage statistics in Malaysia

Mobile connectivity based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Mobile connectivity is growing rapidly in Malaysia's digital landscape. Recent data shows just over 44 million cellular mobile connections in 2023 - up 1.2 million or 2.9% from the previous year. With an estimated 29.1% more mobile connections than citizens, you can expect that nearly all Malaysians can now access cellular networks. Owning a mobile phone has become more of a need nowadays than a luxury, as it is now a requirement for Malaysians to keep up with this evolving social landscape.

This rise in mobile connectivity, widespread smartphone ownership, and social media use to drive a boom in on-the-go internet usage. Mobile devices have become increasingly integral to communication, entertainment, business, and other aspects of life in Malaysia's tech-savvy society and digital economy. And in a time where 2 out of 3 Malaysians purchase items they need online and on their phones, making sense of social media data is vital in targeting your customers.

App ranking by consumer spend based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

TikTok, the social media platform that took the world by storm recently, has become incredibly popular in Malaysia, particularly among younger generations. With its short-form videos and focus on creativity and self-expression, TikTok has become a go-to for anyone looking for entertainment or inspiration. On top of this, consumers spend on these short-form campaigns influencers have, and this is the case in a cyclical society where influencers steal the show with company-driven marketing campaigns that engage millions at a time.

Tip: Take a look at the top TikTok influencers in Malaysia to find the right accounts to partner with.

On the other hand, YouTube has been a staple of online video content for over a decade and nowadays is a direct competitor to TikTok with its Shorts. Omi, the third app on the list, is a lesser-known but popular app in Malaysia. OMI is a social messaging app offering various features, including video chat, voice calls, and messaging. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its focus on privacy and security, a quality its user base pays for. These three apps offer engaging and entertaining content that keeps users returning for more.

Ecommerce statistics in Malaysia

Overview of consumer goods ecommerce based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

E-commerce is booming in Malaysia in 2023, and it's easy to see why. With 55.9% of e-commerce transactions completed on mobile devices, the continued rise in smartphone proliferation leads to more online purchasers and purchases. This trend is only set to continue, with an additional 1% increase in goods attributed to mobile phones. And it's not just the growing number of consumers - another 1.2 million Malaysian consumers purchase items over the internet over the previous year. 

This activity generates more data than ever, leading to retailers' in-tandem adoption of AI to learn and shape buyer behaviour. Plus, businesses discussing ESG and sustainability benefit from generating as much as 30% of positive media sentiment. This is all good news for companies looking to tap into the growing e-commerce market in Malaysia, with annual spending on goods increasing by 5.9% or 504 million USD. So, whether you're looking to reach more customers or promote your ESG efforts, now is the time to take advantage of the booming e-commerce industry in Malaysia while the iron is hot.

Digital media spend based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Digital media spending in Malaysia is on the rise in 2023, with businesses investing a total of 747.5 million USD, an 18.6% increase from last year. This trend is being seen across the board, with video game spending increasing by 17.3%, video-on-demand streaming rising by 24.7%, Epublishing increasing by 13.3%, and digital music increasing by 18.2%. But why is this happening in Malaysia? 

One reason could be the country's growing number of consumers continuing to trust online ways of procuring their needs and wants, fueling demand for instantaneous digital content. Additionally, the increasing popularity of mobile devices means that people consume more digital media on the go. Finally, businesses recognise digital media's effectiveness in reaching their target audience and invest accordingly. Whatever the reason, it's clear that digital media spend is on the rise in Malaysia, and businesses that invest in this channel stand to see significant returns on their investment.

This is no different from social media usage in Malaysia, where the digitalisation of its media landscape has reached a point where consumers can get what they need with a few button taps. Many Malaysian internet users rely on search engines, online shopping, and social media to learn about new products and services. This emphasises the need to use social media to reach your intended target in the country. Advertising your brand to inform consumers about products builds relationships with that demographic and promotes brand recognition. This is a fantastic tool for monitoring potential customers and rival businesses.

Digital marketing statistics in Malaysia

Comparison of ad spend between total and digital based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Companies in Malaysia quickly realise the importance of digital marketing in engaging their audiences in 2023. In fact, the data speaks for itself: there has been an 18.9% increase in total ad spend across all marketing channels, amounting to a staggering 257 million USD increase from the previous year. Digital ad spend, in particular, has seen a significant increase of 21.9%, equating to 198 million USD. It's clear that more and more companies in Malaysia are catching on to the digital boom and recognising the value of digital marketing channels, especially when digital ads now make up 68.2% of all ads in Malaysia. 

The high internet penetration, the government's willingness to prioritise internet infrastructure, and robust economic development in Malaysia have repeatedly shown the country a bright future in digital marketing. Marketing via social media, search engine optimisation, and various online strategies are worth exploring if you want to succeed in Malaysia's online marketplace.

This trend is likely due to the country's growing number of internet and mobile users and the increasing importance of data-driven marketing strategies. However, companies need to recognise this trend and take advantage of it. By investing in digital marketing, businesses in Malaysia can reach their target audience more effectively, generate more leads, and ultimately grow their business. Stay caught up - embrace the digital boom and see the results for yourself.

Digital advertising spend based on Global Digital Report 2023 for Malaysia

Digital advertising is becoming the norm in Malaysia as companies allocate more marketing budgets to digital channels. This shift is happening, with digital ad spend increasing in all digital formats. Digital video ads, in particular, have seen a remarkable 23.7% increase, with social media video ads being the most common way consumers discover Malaysian brands before purchasing. This trend is likely due to the country's massive and increasingly savvy online consumer population, generating more data than ever. As a result, retailers are adopting AI to learn and shape buyer behaviour, leading to more effective digital advertising strategies. 

Online search ads have also seen a significant increase of 20.8%, driving retailers and brands to consider comprehensive tracking methods for better insights into their audiences and optimise their search strategy for new, popularised formats.

Companies must recognise and take advantage of this trend by investing in digital advertising to reach their target audience more effectively, generate more leads, and ultimately grow their business.

What’s Ahead for Social Media in Malaysia in 2023?

Being the only nation to place social media at the top of its chart for product research and analysis, it's clear that social media marketing is vital to Malaysian companies' digital marketing strategies. 

The digitalisation of everyday life, pushed by the pandemic, indicates an even brighter future. Many digital connections make up the majority of today's customer journey. Thus, by learning more about your target demographic, you can tailor your engagement approach to better accommodate their needs. With this, your company can influence consumers' purchasing decisions and help you stand out in today's competitive multichannel environment.

To reach today's tech-savvy web users, you'll need a solid social media strategy that pinpoints and engages that target with the right message at the right moment. If you want to know how your products or services are being received by the market and how to best position them, you must invest in sophisticated social analytics and listening.

Our different Meltwater solutions can help you and your brand do exactly that! Just fill out the following form to get a free 15-minute tour of our platform.

Read our customer story with the Malaysian brand Setel to see what the Meltwater social listening suite can do for you.

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