Instagram Surpasses Naver as 3rd Most Popular App in South Korea

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Instagram Surpasses Naver as 3rd Most Popular App in South Korea

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This April Instagram surpassed Naver as the third most used app in South Korea (The Korea Herald), and it does not seem like this trend is going to change anytime soon. In May, Koreans spent 389 million hours on Instagram – 46.41 million more than Naver that same month(The Korean Herald). In fact, the hours users have spent on Naver have been decreasing, with a 15% decrease from August 2023 to June 2024 (The Korean Herald).

Ranking of popularity of applications in South Korea based on usage hours in May 2024

Ranking of popularity of applications in South Korea based on usage hours in May 2024; Information derived from The Korea Herald

 

Why is this happening?

The Korea Herald argues that the decrease in the use of Naver comes from the company’s recent decision to discontinue content integration with other social media platforms on official government and public agency websites. Meanwhile,  Instagram has been seeing a great deal of success with their short-form content service Reels. Naver has also launched a short-form content service Clips, but it has yet to gain enough traction to impact the usage rates of Naver.

It could also just be shifts in the general trends of internet usage. South Koreans are increasingly spending more time on social media (Yonhap News), especially young people (The Korea Times). Instagram is the favorite social media platform in South Korea (The Korea Times), following messaging app giant KakaoTalk. This trend of increased social media usage likely has contributed to Instagram’s growth and Naver’s decline.

 

So what now?

Should your company abandon marketing on Naver, and switch that focus to Instagram? Probably not. 

While Naver’s usage has been decreasing, it remains the most popular search engine in South Korea, controlling a lion’s share of 57.91% of the search engine market in the country (Statista). Naver is also incredibly influential in determining what information Koreans see online. While social media platforms like YouTube are becoming increasingly popular for discovering and consuming news stories, Naver’s news portal remains the leading way Koreans access news online, with 61% of respondents to a Reuters survey saying they use it weekly (Reuters Institute). 

Weekly use Naver and Daum, Korea 2024

 

This is a wide gap between Naver and the next most popular option – Daum’s news portal, which only 25% of respondents said they use weekly (Reuters Institute). 

The same report also found that among the social media platforms that are increasingly becoming popular for news consumption, YouTube would likely be the strongest competitor, with 53% of respondents saying they use YouTube for news, as opposed to only 12% for Instagram (Reuters Institute).

Conclusion

The main takeaway from this news is not that Instagram has replaced Naver as the way to reach the Korean market, but rather that the market is constantly expanding and evolving, and that digital marketers need to stay on top of and understand these trends so that they can better select the right tool for the job.

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