by Youkyung Lee, The Associated Press Posted Nov 7, 2013 2:18 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Slowing growth for Twitter in Asia shows challenge to keep users engaged, grow advertising SEOUL, South Korea – Too open. Too crowded. Too difficult.That’s why some Twitter users in South Korea and Japan say they are spending less time on the site or have quit for other services.After selling shares in a highly anticipated initial public offering, Twitter is set to face minute ongoing scrutiny from a legion of new shareholders and Wall Street investment analysts. The price of $26 per share values Twitter, which has never made a profit, at more than $18 billion. It started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday even higher, at $45.10.Waning appeal in parts of Asia, once the fastest growing market for the social network that revolves around users posting 140-character messages online, shows the challenge Twitter faces in keeping overseas users engaged. And in generating enough advertising to be profitable.International users accounted for about three quarters of Twitter’s members but only a quarter of revenue in the first nine months of this year. About 25 per cent of Twitter’s 232 million active users are in Asia.Led by Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and India, Asia was the fastest growing region for Twitter in summer 2010, according to Semiocast, a Paris-based social media research company.Millions of new users joined in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and during election campaigns. Celebrities, pop stars, politicians and opinion leaders flocked to Twitter, turning an experimental playground for early adopters into a dynamic online forum.But growth has slowed in South Korea and Japan, a red flag for Twitter since both countries are wealthy and have high rates of mobile device usage — now the predominant way Twitter is accessed. New mobile applications from companies such as South Korea’s Kakao Corp. and Japan’s Line Corp., have experienced explosive growth, making them potent competitors for eyeballs and advertising.A desire for a less open, more exclusive social networking experience is part of the explanation.“In South Korea and Japan, open type social networking services like Twitter and Facebook are losing steam,” said Justin Lee, an analyst of mobile messengers and games at BNP Paribas. “Closed social networking services where messages are shared among a small group of people will become more popular.”Twitter remains blocked from China’s vast market but another giant, India, is open to Twitter and it has amassed 27 million users there, according to Semiocast. Yet Twitter acknowledged in IPO filings that low use of smartphones in the poor country could hamper the ability of advertisers to deliver compelling advertisements and hurt its earnings potential.“Indian people are still warming up to Twitter,” said Karthik Srinivasan, Bangalore-based head of social media at Ogilvy & Mather.The concept of interacting with strangers instead of friends and colleagues takes getting used to in a society that remains family-oriented, he said. “People probably don’t know what to do on Twitter, since you don’t see your friends and family on it right away.”In South Korea the number of new users signing up has plunged since December while more Twitter citizens are going dormant, according to CYRAM, a Seoul-based analytics company that specializes in social networks. Some 40,000 new users signed up in August, about a quarter of new users in December.It estimates there are 7 million Twitter users in South Korea and only 1 million of them send more than one tweet a month. In August, 64 per cent of Twitter accounts based in South Korea had not sent a tweet for more than six months, up from 56 per cent in December of last year.South Korean entrepreneur Richard Choi is one of those dormant users. After sending more than 18,000 messages to his 8,200 followers in the last few years, he has been silent on Twitter since June 25. Choi said he has been busy running his startup company but still found time to share pictures of his birthday cake and a homemade shepherd’s pie with friends on KakaoStory, an Instagram-like mobile application that has been a hit in South Korea.“Twitter is for news and information but there are other channels to get news,” Choi said. “I don’t feel like I need to come back.”In Japan, Twitter’s status was elevated after it functioned as a virtual lifeline for many people following the 2011 tsunami. Japanese were able to communicate with others through Twitter immediately after the disaster as the Internet kept working but phones didn’t. It remains a go-to destination for discussing popular television shows.Twitter is a special arena for “when a certain incident calls for everyone’s participation at one time,” said Will Tachiiri, a social media producer and CEO of Logkr Media.But a trend for defections and growing dormancy of accounts in Japan partly reflects that Twitter has also become a nasty battleground, with users hiding behind anonymity to launch vitriolic attacks on those they disagree with. “Sometimes one can be forced to leave the space or close the account since they were seriously offended, annoyed or traumatized,” Tachiri said.There are bright spots as Twitter courts advertisers overseas including the social networking service’s ability to draw people who set trends and influence opinion.In South Korea, “Twitter is SNS of 1 million people,” said Song Seulki, a consultant at CYRAM. “But its impact is valid given that it is the SNS used by people from the 20s to the 40s who are public opinion leaders.”___Yuriko Nagano in Tokyo and Kay Johnson in Mumbai, India contributed.___Follow Youkyung Lee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/YKLeeAP
Before the College Football Playoff field is set, there is one last chance to make a case to the selection committee.No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 6 Ohio State both need to win Saturday — and they should both be rooting for Alabama.The Sooners enter Championship Saturday with a chance to make the playoff for a second straight season. Oklahoma faces archrival Texas for the Big 12 title in the first of four Power Five championship games that will decide the four-team playoff field that will be revealed Sunday.Ohio State plays Northwestern in the Big Ten championship. No. 1 Alabama faces No. 4 Georgia for the SEC title and a win by the Crimson Tide could open the door for the Sooners or Buckeyes. No. 2 Clemson is heavily favoured against Pittsburgh in the ACC championship game.In all, there are nine championship games on Saturday: Besides the SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 games, titles will be settled in the Sun Belt (Louisiana-Lafayette at Appalachian State), Conference USA (UAB at Middle Tennessee), American Athletic (Memphis at UCF), the SWAC (Southern at Alcorn State) and the Mountain West (Fresno State at Boise State).___More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
Mr Duncan-Smith cited research showing that divorce and family breakdown is linked to poorer health, mental illness and lower educational outcomes. “The Government’s own evaluation shows that every £1 spent on relationship support saves the state over £11, not to mention the improvement in life chances for those involved,” he said. Chris Sherwood, CEO of Relate, one of the charities which receives funding to provide both free and subsidised sessions, said: ““It’s all too easy to overlook the value of relationships to individuals and society, but they play a critical role in our health and wellbeing and in ensuring that children get a good start in life. “Research from Relate found that 18 per cent of UK adults are in distressed relationships, meaning 1.4 million families are at breaking point. “This would be the first time in over 70 years that the Government has turned away from providing support from marriage and relationships before they break down altogether.”We don’t know where this has come from but the Secretary of State should urgently intervene.”The UK has one of the highest levels of family breakdown anywhere in the world, it doesn’t make sense to simply wait until divorce or separation before providing any sort of support, especially when we know how important stronger families are for children.” “We know that relationship breakdown can lead to loneliness, depression, homelessness, debt and many other life shattering events which have a huge cost to society and place pressure on public services.”In response to Mr Duncan Smith’s comments, a Government spokesman said: “Mounting evidence shows the damaging effect parental conflict has on children, which is why we remain committed to supporting parents, whether separated or not, to work together.” The Government is planning to remove funding for relationship counselling, a former Cabinet minister has claimed, a step which he said could lead to more broken families. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions secretary, said that the Government was in the process of reviewing policy announced in 2016, which allows for £70m to be spent on counselling over five years.In a blog post for Conservative Home, he said: “Without this funding, innumerable families and couples will no longer be able to access marriage and relationship support, particularly those on low incomes and vulnerable groups who often need it the most.”In 2015, I was enormously pleased when we increased the spending on such counselling but always hoped that, given the evidence of its effectiveness, more money would be found in due course. I am therefore worried that we may be about to head in the wrong direction.”He said the plans were due to be part of the upcoming Budget, which is due to be announced this autumn. The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green is also the founder of think-tank the Centre for Social Justice. Frank Young, of its family policy unit, said: ““The rumours that the Government might cut relationship support funding altogether are alarming and need to be re-considered. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.